Double Olympic gold medallist Haile Gebrselassie led a group of athletes and coaches which descended on the Ethiopia Athletics Federation (EAF) headquarters in protest against their Rio 2016 selection policy.
The EAF has come under intense scrutiny after they controversially decided to omit Kenenisa Bekele, the current Olympic and world record holder in the 5,000 and 10,000 events, from their marathon team for this year’s Games.
Gebrselassie, considered one of the greatest distance runners of all time, was among around 100 people who gathered outside the National Stadium in the Ethiopian capital, while Bekele was also in attendance.
The two Ethiopian stars gave speeches who had come to venue in Addis Ababa, according to reports.
The group had travelled to the National Stadium as a result of what they have described as poor management within their country’s Athletics Federation.
Bekele, a three-time Olympic champion, had previously described his axing from the Rio 2016 team as “unjust” and blasted the EAF for their “biased” selection criteria.
Despite having not competed on the track since 2013 due to injury, the 33-year-old, who has also won five World Championships gold medals, remained hopeful he would be able to represent his nation at the Olympics in the Brazilian city.
He stepped up his recovery with a third place finish at April’s London Marathon and thought he had done enough to be selected.
“I ran the London Marathon before even finishing my training and registered a good point,” Bekele told the Africa News Agency.
“I did that because I wanted to be considered for the Rio Olympics.
“The Olympics and the World Championships are not new to me.
“I have won more than 20 medals for my country in different competitions.
“I have recovered from my injury now and it has been a while since we have had a good result in the marathon.
“I wanted to contribute something for my country.”
Gebrselassie, a four-time world champion, also couldn’t understand the decision not to take one of Ethiopia’s best distance runners to the Games.
“As you know Kenenisa is a well-experienced athlete,” he told ANA.
“He knows how to handle pressure and he knows how to win a race.”
Lelisa Desisa, the two-time Boston Marathon champion, has also missed out on a full place in the team and has only been listed as an alternate.
This comes as Ethiopia continues to face suspicions about its anti-doping programmes after it was one of five countries put on a special monitoring list by the International Association of Athletics Federations in March.