One of Somalia’s top sports bosses has been suspended for nepotism after appearing to select an “untrained” runner to compete at an international competition.
Video of the race, which shows Nasro Abukar Ali gently jogging down the 100m stretch, has gone viral with millions views on Twitter, now known as X.
She was representing Somalia in the third heat of the first round of the women’s 100-metre race at the International University Sports Federation’s (FISU) Summer World University Games in China.
Her race time of 21.81 seconds put her more than eight seconds slower than the second-last runner.
“It’s disheartening to witness such an incompetent government. How could they select an untrained girl to represent Somalia in running?” one person wrote on Twitter, in a post which received over 50,000 likes.
She added: “It’s truly shocking and reflects poorly on our country internationally.”
Social media users then began to claim the runner was the family member of a Somalian sports official.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Somalia said it had suspended Khadijo Aden Dahir, the chairwoman of the Somali Athletics Federation.
It alleged Dahir had engaged in “acts of abuse of power, nepotism, and defaming the name of the nation in international arena,” in a letter addressed to the Somali National Olympic Committee and tweeted by the ministry.
Somali Minster of Youth and Sports Mohamed Barre Mohamud said Ali was not a “sports person nor a runner.”
Mr Mohamud earlier “apologised” for the incident in a Facebook video.
“What happened today was not representative of the Somali people,” he said in Somali, Forbes reported.
While his letter referred to nepotism, he did not directly say what the link is between Dahir and Ali.
On Tuesday, the Association of Somalia Universities said in a statement it had not sent Nasro Abukar Ali or any runners to the event.
In fact, Somalia does not even have a university sports association, according to a letter sent by The Ministry of Youth and Sports on Wednesday.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports announces the suspension of Khadijo Aden Dahir, the chairwoman of the Somali Athletics Federation
It said an investigation found there was no “registered Somali University Sports Association”, without elaborating on the association and its role in the competition.
The letter added the ministry will “pursue legal action against both the Chairman of the Athletics Federation of Somalia and individuals responsible for falsification of the Somali University Sports Association.”
The Summer World University Games are ongoing in Chengdu, southwestern China.