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European Athletics proposes stricter eligibility rules

As a result of Turkey’s much debated success in the European championships, The European Athletics Association now proposes a number of drastic changes in the eligibility rules.

17 of the athletes in the Turkish national team had previously competed for another country, some of them only months before competing for Turkey in the European championships.

Turkey, which only won one bronze medal in 2014, were in 2016 able to win twelve medals, much thanks to runners who previously hade competed for African nations.

The EAA now reacts by sending a proposal to the IAAF, listing some drastic changes in the eligibility rules. The board of the EAA there states:

”The current situation creates quite confusing image of the sport to the general audience. As an example, in the last European Championships in Amsterdam a number of medals were won by the athletes who recently became the citizens of their respective Members. Those winners are not associated yet with the countries they represent at international level. Thus, those achievements, though well appreciated, have no positive effect in ‘building the story’ about athletics, neither they help in promoting and developing local, ‘grass root’ athletics.”


Therefore the EAA now proposes that an athlete who acquires a new citizenship can represent the new country no earlier than five years following the date of acquisition of new citizenship.

The current rules states that the athlete must wait three years – and that this period can be reduced if the countries involved agree. It is also possible, with the current rules, to cancel the period entirely in ”exceptional cases”.

If the proposed new rules were to be applied, the possibilities to reduce or cancel the periods will no longer exist; the athlete must always wait five years,


If the athlete has not  represented another nation in an international competition, he or she may – according to the current rules – represent a new country one year after the acquisition of the new citizenship.

In the proposal from the EAA this period should be prolonged and be two years – and the possibilities to make exceptions from the rules will be significantly narrowed.


The proposal has been sent to the IAAF council, who are likely make a decision in April.

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