Sports / Updates
Tuesday, 07 Feb 2017 14:17 EAT
The ban to changes of nationality by the governing body of world athletics (IAAF) is a reprieve to Kenya which has so far lost 32 athletes to different countries. IAAF announced the immediate stop to changes of nationality by athletes saying the system had become open to abuse and that rules were being manipulated.
Qatar is the leading country destination of Kenyan athletes, with 10 sportsmen having changed nationality to the Arabian country. It is closely followed by Turkey (six), Bahrain (five) and France (three). Kenyan athletes have also changed nationality to Finland (2), Netherlands (2), Azerbaijan, (1), Bosnia and Herzegovina (1), Denmark (1), and Israel (1).
IAAF president Sebastian Coe said a working group would be set up to agree new rules by the end of the year. "It has become abundantly clear that with regular multiple transfers of allegiance, especially from Africa, the present rules are no longer fit for purpose," Coe told reporters on Monday.
"Athletics has to be based on national teams and is particularly vulnerable," he added. "The rules do not provide protection necessary for individual athletes, they are open to abuse. Many federations regularly receive reports of athletes who are available for trade."
The IAAF said the ban would not affect the 15 applications to switch allegiance which have already been made. Unlike other sports such as soccer, athletics allows its competitors to switch nationalities even after they have represented one country at international level.
Several dozen athletes changed allegiance on the eve of last year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Hamad Kalkaba Malboum, the African representative on the IAAF Council, will lead the working group. "The present situation is wrong," Malboum said. "What we have is a wholesale market for African talent open to the highest bidder. Our present rules are being manipulated to the detriment of athletics' credibility.
"Lots of the individual athletes concerned, many of whom are transferred at a young age, do not understand that they are forfeiting their nationality," he added. "Some are running for countries but are not citizens of those countries ... at the end of the comp they are not citizens of those countries, they don't have any future."