IAAF puts a stop to athletes switching national allegiance

Ireland's Fionnuala McCormack has been a critic of the rules

BY Raf Diallo 21:04 Monday 6 February 2017, 21:04 6 Feb 2017

The IAAF (International Amateur Athletic Federation) headquaters in Monaco (Picture by: Lionel Cironneau / AP/Press Association Images)

The International Association of Athletics Federations has put an immediate freeze on athletes switching nationality.

Athletics' world governing body says the system has become open to abuse with rules being manipulated.

Irish distance and cross country runner Fionnuala McCormack has been a vocal critic of the rules which saw two Kenyan-born and trained athletes win gold and silver at the European Cross Country Championships in December.

At the time, McCormack commented: "I don't think people should be just allowed to just hop countries whenever they feel like it, because it's easy. There’s absolutely no reason - and I don't mean to be bad to people in Turkey - but there is not really any reason people would want to emigrate to Turkey at this point in time. It’s a dangerous country to be living in. Why would people feel like they want to represent them? I have no idea."

IAAF president Sebastian Coe explained the reasoning for putting an end to the switching of allegiances.

He said: "It has become abundantly clear with regular multiple transfers of athletes especially from Africa that the present rules are no longer fit for purpose. Athletics, which at its highest levels of competition is a championship sport based upon national teams, is particularly vulnerable in this respect. Furthermore, the present rules do not offer the protections necessary to the individual athletes involved and are open to abuse."

Proposals for new procedures regarding national eligibility will be addressed by the end of 2017 according to the IAAF.

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