The president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Sebastian Coe has issued a statement banning all athletics from changing their nationalities.
“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.” Said Sebastian Coe
IAAF claims to be reviewing current rules to ensure they offer sufficient protection to athletes.
According to IAAF the decision will not affect 15 applications already being processed for transfer. Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes are likely to be most affected by a freeze on nationality switches since a majority of the international transfers come from these two East African countries. More than 20 Kenyan-born athletes represented other countries at the Rio Olympics last year.
“The present situation is wrong. 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. This must end and a new way forward found which respects the athletes’ rights and the sports’ dignity.” Said Hamad Kalkaba Malboum, Africa Area Group Representative on the IAAF Council