The Norwegian says that improvements to the transfer of allegiance rules must be looked at for the good of the sport
European Athletics president Svein Arne Hansen has promised to raise the issue of athletes’ transfer of allegiance at the next IAAF Council meeting.
Controversy surrounding the IAAF’s rules on the switching of nationalities – athletes must currently forego international competition for 12 months in order to compete for their adopted nation, provided their former national federation does not object – has been sparked largely by Turkey’s fourth-placed finish in the medals table at the recent European Championships in Amsterdam.
Those bolstering Turkey’s strong medal haul included former Kenyans Ali Kaya, Arikan Polat Kemboi and Yasemin Can, ex-Jamaican sprinter Jak Ali Harvey and Ramil Guliyev from Azerbaijan, among others, and has seen accusations launched against the country’s national federation of “buying” its way to international success.
Hansen, who took presidency of the European confederation last year, has been a visible figure both in person and on social media during the championships, openly responding to fans’ and athletes’ questions frequently, and has addressed the frustrations surrounding apparent abuses of the system by saying the situation needs an improvement “for the good of our sport.”
“Firstly, we need to be clear that any athlete who is granted refugee status can be fast-tracked to compete for a new country if appropriate. This cannot be questioned,” Hansen said in a statement.
“However, we in European Athletics believe there is a need to look more closely at the appropriate conditions for a change of nationality and the length of time before eligibility is granted to compete.”
— Svein Arne Hansen (@SvenPres) July 11, 2016
Despite the furore surrounding the participation of various athletes, the championships have been received well with 50 out of 51 nations bringing a record number of athletes to the Netherlands.
Hansen said: “The Amsterdam 2016 European Athletics Championships – my first as European Athletics president – have been a great success. We have created many new European champions and stars for the future over the past few days, seen great performances, incredible emotions, wonderful stories.”