HELSINKI, Aug 3 - Athletics chiefs have turned down a plea from African countries to make it harder for athletes defecting to richer nations for financial gain.
African countries had called for a six year ban on athletes who switched countries.
But the IAAF Council decided Wednesday to impose a three year ban from the time an athlete changes his nationality rather than from the date he last run for his homeland.
And the delay is reduced to one year if the two national assosiations agree to the move.
Under the old rule someone who won a medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics would have been free to run for his new country in 2007. Now the three year ban will apply from when he gets a new passport, in line with Olympic eligibility rules.
Kenya has been particularly hard hit by athletes defecting to oil-rich Gulf countries Qatar and Bahrain.
Since 2003, some 40 runners, including Saif Saaeed Shaheen, the world 3000 metres steeplechase champion and record holder, have left Kenya for greener pastures.