The governing body of world athletics (IAAF) has put a freeze on changes of nationality by athletes, saying the system has become open to abuse and that rules are being manipulated.
IAAF president Sebastian Coe said a working group would be set up to agree new rules by the end of the year.
“It has become abundantly clear that with regular multiple transfers of allegiance, especially from Africa, the present rules are no longer fit for purpose,” Coe told reporters on Monday.
The decision will not affect the 15 applications for transfer which are already in process, the IAAF said.
“Athletics has to be based on national teams and is particularly vulnerable,” Coe added.
“The rules do not provide protection necessary for individual athletes, they are open to abuse. Many federations regularly receive reports of athletes who are available for trade.”
In some of the rules touching on the citizenship change, an athlete who has competed for a certain country will have to stay away for three years before representing his or her adopted country.
However, the local federations involved can agree to fast track the transfer within one year.
An athlete who has not represented their country can immediately compete for another country with the approval from either IAAF or the local federation. (Reuters)