IAAF approves nation transfers for 10 athletes

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The London Stadium hosted the 2012 Olympics and 2017 World Championships. (William Warby via Flickr).

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has allowed 10 competitors to change countries.

It comes after new rules for transfers were agreed earlier this year, with a Nationality Review Panel looking into individual cases.

The governing body previously suspended all changes of country to prevent “abuses” under the old system.

The first approvals earlier this year included Commonwealth medallist Leon Reid, who was British and is now an Irish athlete.

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Cuban-born triple jumper Pedro Pablo Pichardo Pichardo was allowed to compete for Portugal, but has to wait until August 2019 until a mandatory ‘gardening leave’ period of at least three years finishes.

In this second batch is Yunier Perez (above, left), who was part of Cuba’s 4x400m relay quartet at the 2008 Olympic Games. The 33-year-old now wants to run for Spain.

Nick Ekelund-Arenander (below), who has represented Denmark at World and European Championships, is set to compete for Sweden, the country of his birth.

As well as Ekelund-Arenander, former Youth Olympic medallist Samrawit Mengsteab is one of two Eritreans runners expected to follow the likes of European champion Meraf Bahta and race in a Swedish vest.

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Abdelhamid Zerrifi (Algeria to France), Ontoniel Costa Badjana (Guinea-Bissau to Portugal), Mohamed Ali (Somalia to Netherlands), Yanique Haye-Smith (Jamaica to Turks and Caicos Islands), Adhanom Abraha (Eritrea to Sweden) can compete with immediate effect.

USA’s Blake Haney (below) will be eligible to represent Canada on 10 July 2019, while Greece’s Paraskevas Batzavalis can represent Cyprus from June 2021.

As well as the minimum three-year waiting period before an athlete can race under a new flag, evidence is needed that the new country can offer full citizenship and associated rights. No athlete can transfer before the age of 20 or transfer more than once.

IAAF President Sebastian Coe says the current rules allow those with a “genuine connection” to represent a different country “after appropriate checks and balances”.

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