Changing Nations

by Pirate Irwin

BRUSSELS, March 19 (AFP) - The InternationalAssociation of Athletics Federations said on Friday anydecision on changing the present nationality rules wouldhave to wait till their congress in Helsinki in August2005.
Lamine Diack, president of the IAAF, said thatathletics could not be compared to football whose rulingbody FIFA agreed this week to allow players to play foranother country provided they had resided there for twoyears or had a parent or grandparent of thatnationality.
FIFA’s measures were a response to the policy followedso enthusiastically by Qatar’s French coach PhilippeTroussier, who had tried to lure Werder Bremen strikerAilton - one of three targeted Brazilians - to help themqualify for the 2006 World Cup.
It took them four months to bring in the newregulations whereas the IAAF have been working on newrules since Kenya’s ace 3000m steeplechaser StephenCherono acquired Qatari nationality just prior to theworld championships last year and went on to lift theworld title for his new country under the name of SaifSaaeed Shaheen.
We have a working group on the matter but we can'tbe compared to football,'' said Diack, who was talkingon the eve of the world cross country championships. Football is a professional sport whereas we are agrowing and developing sport. We already have rulesdeclaring you can qualify to run for another countryprovided one hasn’t competed for your country in thepast three years,’’ added the Senegalese.
Diack said that the IAAF was helpless to intervene inquestions of citizenship and residency.
Some people have to wait 10 years to become acitizen of another country. But we have no power tointervene in these matters because there are too manycriteria,'' added the former useful long jumper. Istvan Gyulai, general secretary of the IAAF, said theidea was to propose a benchmark of two years residencyafter the athlete had been made a citizen of thatcountry. However there will be no changes until the worldchampionships in Helsinki next year because this is aconstitutional matter and has to be dealt with bycongress,’’ he said.
The delay in rubberstamping the new measures could,many inside the sport believe, see several athletestaking advantage of that and switching countries, butDiack said footballers could switch nationalities fareasier than athletes.
``It is easier for footballers to get residencybecause a footballer plays for a club and thereforeresides in that particular country,’’ said Diack.

Its a shame that the IAAF has taken even this long just to think about doing / saying something.