Romania let Astafei jump for Germany

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Romania agreed to allow Alina Astafei, the Romanian-born world indoor high jump champion, to compete for her adopted country, Germany, at the Olympic Games after a 4-3 vote of the Romania's National Olympic Committee yesterday.

The two countries had been negotiating for months on the issue with Romania demanding compensation for the money it spent developing the 26-year-old's talent but that appeared to have been dropped. "During the talks there was no reference to financial or other compensation," Lia Manoliu, president of the committee, said.

Astafei moved to Germany in 1993 but was banned from competing for three years by Romanian officials who were worried that more athletes might go west.

The Romanians cut short the ban and Astafei won the world indoor title in March 1995 in her first appearance in German colours after receiving her new passport.

Last month, Astafei regained the European indoor title in Stockholm that she had won in 1989 jumping for Romania. But regulations prevented Astafei from competing at Olympic level within three years of taking new citizenship without the agreement of the Romanian Olympic Committee.

Last week the Romanian Sports minister, Alexandru Mironov, said his country had spent about pounds 450,000 "to create a top medallist", and that Germany should pay Romania to compensate for Astafei's loss.

The committee also voted to allow 1995 world amateur boxing champion, Zoltan Lunca, and the handball player Emilia Luca to compete for Germany in the Atlanta Olympics.