Lord Coe calls for stricter rules on athletes switching national allegiance

Sebastian Coe believes athletics' regulations around switching nationality are 'flimsy'

World athletics chief Sebastian Coe wants stricter rules in place to restrict athletes switching national allegiance, believing a commitment to one country should be permanent.

The president of the sport's global governing body the IAAF, who said his concern over this switching is widely shared within the athletics community, also announced that the IAAF is to appoint a new chief executive by the end of the month and reiterated his support for the notion of life bans for athletes found guilty of doping.

Long-distance runner Julia Bleasdale switched from Great Britain to Germany, having competed for Team GB at London 2012, earlier this year and raised the issue of whether she and other athletes should continue to have such freedom.

Coe insisted he had asked for this to be reviewed, however, and had requested proposals on the issue, which he believes to be "flimsy".

"There are very big issues around transfers of allegiance," said the 59-year-old at the Telegraph's Business of Sport conference.

"My instinct is that we need to settle upon a principle that if an athlete starts their international career competing for a particular country, they finish their career for a particular country.

"This is a concern that's been expressed to me through all our continental associations.

"For the sport to retain its intrinsic values, we can't have athletes just deciding somebody else is going to provide them with a better set of systems or a better set of structures over the short term and have people sitting in the stand wondering why somebody's suddenly competing for a country where there seems to be no obvious link.

"I've asked our corporate governance review to look at this, to come back with a set of proposals.

"In the past, these transfer of allegiance requests have been, sometimes, a little flimsy and we need to address that."

Coe insisted it is vital his sport completes its reform programme by the end of the year in the wake of the doping scandal centred on Russian athletes, but insisted his sport "is not broken".

"The ability to get that (programme) in place by the end of this year will be absolutely essential for that journey that we all talk about back to trust," he said.

"We are only as strong as our weakest and least secure member federation.

"All the corporate governances in the world are not going to save you unless you have within the organisation the right culture.

"While we've sorely tested the trust of many of our stakeholder groups out there, the sport is still intrinsically strong.

"Of course we need to return trust to all those stakeholder groups. But I guess the unflinching focus that I have is to return to the clean athletes.

"I really care very little for the rights of those athletes who have violated the sport. I do actually care for the clean athletes.

"We do need the member federations to recognise that it is entirely at their discretion if they choose to select an athlete that has been previously banned.

"Maybe the moral maze leads to an extension of the period beyond the ineligibility of an athlete to compete.

"I've even looked at, currently, how we might revisit (life bans)."

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