The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) on Monday put a hold to all transfer of allegiance in athletics.
The world athletics governing body exercised powers under its Constitution to revoke Competition Rules 5.2(b), 5.4(d) and 5.4(e) with immediate effect following a proposal by IAAF President Sebastian Coe.
The new adjustment to competition rules was disclosed in a statement after the 208th IAAF Council Meeting held in Cap d’Ail, France.
The statement said a working group has been set up to study the subject area and will submit proposals for new rules as a matter of urgency no later than the end of this year.
Confederation of Africa Athletics President Hamad Kalkaba Malboum who is also an IAAF Vice-President will drive the working group’s study. Japanese national Hiroshi Yokokawa will chair the group.
”It has become abundantly clear with regular multiple transfers of athletes, especially from Africa that the present rules are no longer fit for purpose,” said President Coe.
”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,” he added.
President Coe, however, said the decision would not be affecting the 15 applications already in process for transfer of allegiance.
African federations have long complained about the now past situation on the continent whereby its brightest talents are poached and offered better rewards for their efforts.
Some have likened the practice to modern day slavery while others, mainly the athletes, have hailed their adopted nations for investing and taking care of the athletes, unlike the African ones.
President Hamad Kalkaba Malboum was quoted in the statement saying:
”The present situation is wrong. What we have is a wholesale market for African talents 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 athlete’s rights and the sport’s dignity,” it read.