Athletics: IAAF to tighten up rules on nationality

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The Independent Online
RULES ON nationality are to be tightened up in an attempt to stop the growing number of athletes switching countries.

A two-day congress of the International Amateur Athletic Federation, which begins today, will vote on a proposal from its ruling council to make it much harder to change nationality in the future. The world governing body is worried that it is possible at the moment for an athlete to switch countries within days after getting married.

"The IAAF is concerned to see a growing trend by which athletes discovered, raised and supported by a federation are siphoned off by a wealthier member offering them better conditions," the IAAF general secretary, Istvan Gyulai, said. "Many federations, understandably, resent this. Losing their star athletes has far-reaching, negative effects on the national level."

The council has put a proposal to the congress, taking place in the days before Saturday's start to the World Championships in Seville, to make citizenship the main criteria for switching nationality.

At the moment residency is one of the main qualifications and athletes can compete for a country as long as they are in the process of applying for citizenship even though they may not get it eventually.

If the proposal gets the backing of the meeting, athletes will have to have a passport of their new nation before they can wear the country's athletics vest.

"Newlyweds will not bypass the rules but will have to wait for three years after competing for one country before becoming eligible for the new country," Gyulai said.

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