On July 27, 2018, new rules governing an athlete’s eligibility to represent a member of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) as either a citizen or national representative came into effect. Among other things, the new rules state that athletes switching allegiance must serve a three-year mandatory waiting period, that an athlete can only transfer once, and that no transfers can be done before the age of 20.
These amendments come on the heels of a freeze on the rule since February 2017, during which time the IAAF’s Council sought to develop a solution to the problem of athlete trafficking. Of course, these rules will have implications for all nations participating in IAAF-regulated events, including Jamaica. See the full text of the amendment below:
4. An athlete who has competed on behalf of the Country or Territory of a Member in a National Representative Competition or in any Other Relevant Competition shall not be eligible to represent another Member in a National Representative Competition, except as follows:
(a) in the following circumstances:
(i) if the Country or Territory (as applicable) of the first Member is subsequently incorporated in another Country that is or subsequently becomes a new Member, he may represent the new Member with immediate effect; or
(ii) if the Country or Territory (as applicable) of the first Member ceases to exist and the athlete becomes a Citizen as of right of a newly formed Country ratified by treaty or otherwise recognised at international level that subsequently becomes a new Member, he may represent the new Member with immediate effect; or
(iii) if the Territory of a Member does not have a National Olympic Committee or other relevant body authorised to enter teams in Other Relevant Competitions, the athlete may compete for the Territory’s parent Country in Other Relevant Competitions without affecting his eligibility to compete for the Member representing that Territory in National Representative Competitions;
(b) alternatively, an athlete may represent another Member with the approval of the IAAF, which approval shall be conditional upon:
(i) the athlete observing a waiting period of three years from the date that the application for approval is made to the IAAF (during which period the athlete must not represent any other Member in National Representative Competition or compete in any Other Relevant
(ii) the athlete demonstrating that as at the end of the waiting period:
a. he is or will be aged twenty or over; and
b. he is or will be a Citizen of the Country or of the parent Country of the Territory which the Member represents; and
c. he has or will have a genuine, close, credible and established link to that Country or Territory (e.g., through Residence there).
5. As a general rule, an athlete will only be permitted to transfer allegiance in accordance with Rule 5.4(b) once. In exceptional circumstances, the IAAF may permit the athlete to transfer allegiance a second time, but only back to the original Member.
6. In accordance with Rule 21.2 (Eligibility Rules), the eligibility of an athlete competing under these Rules shall at all times be guaranteed by the Member to which the athlete is affiliated. The burden of proving that an athlete is eligible in accordance with this Rule 5 rests with the Member and the athlete concerned. The Member must provide the IAAF upon demand with valid / authentic documentation demonstrating the athlete’s eligibility and such other evidence as may be necessary to prove the athlete’s
eligibility on a definitive basis. If required by the IAAF, a Member shall provide a certified copy of all documentation on which it seeks to rely in demonstrating the athlete’s eligibility under this Rule.
7. This Rule 5 does not apply to Neutral Athletes.
8. The IAAF will have discretion (which it may delegate to a committee or panel) to waive or vary any of the requirements of this Rule 5 in circumstances that are deemed
9. The Regulations on Eligibility to Represent a Member in National Representative Competitions shall govern the practical implementation of this Rule 5.