News03 Mar 1998

Changing countries?


Not less than 18 requests have been received recently from athletes who wish to change their countries. Some cases are simple, some are more complicated. IAAF rules accept athletes’ affiliation abroad - subject to the approval of their original national federations. However, for athletes who already represented a country at World Championships, Olympic Games, continental, regional or area championships and cups, further requirements need to be met.

Most simply, if an athlete changes citizenship through marriage, the transfer to the new country is automatic with immediate effect, naturally with the approval of the new country’s federation. This is what happened to Christy Opara-Thompson. If however, the new citizenship is not granted with the marriage, in other words, if the athlete is only in process of acquiring citizenship, competing at such events, for the new country, is not possible for three years after the date the athlete last represented the old country at such a competition. Note that with the approval of the "old" and "new" federations plus the IAAF Council, the three years can be reduced to one.

An example: Bermuda’s excellent sprinter Troy Douglas is happily married to his Dutch wife, lives in the Netherlands and hopes to be granted Dutch citizenship soon. But because he competed for Bermuda in Athens, he could not compete for the Netherlands in Valencia at the European Indoor Championships, the one year after Athens not having expired yet. He will be allowed to, however, in Budapest because the European Championships are well outside the one-year mark. With the Bermudan and Dutch Federations already in agreement, the IAAF Council will consider the case in Marrakech.

The list of athletes seeking transfer of allegiance:


from to
Ludmilla Dzigalova UKR RUS
Katharina Saderholm FIN NOR
Bilijana Petrovich YUG NZL
Elena Golesheva RUS BEL
Denis Petoushinski RUS NZL
Griselda Gonzalez ARG ESP
Bobby Farren IRL GBR
Miguel Janssen ARU NED
A. Makarov RUS BLR
Metin Sazak TKM TUR
Troy Douglas BER NED
Stephen Agar DMN CAN
Niurka Montalvo CUB ESP
Mizan Mehari ETH AUS
Alex Rosen USA ISR
Hakim Mazou CGO SUI
Merlene Esteves CUB ESP
Christy Opara-Thompson NGR USA