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Haile warns athletes’ managers over transfer of allegiance

Haile warns athletes’ managers over transfer of allegiance

The Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF) warned managers and coaches of local athletes regarding their involvement in transfer of allegiance of Ethiopian athletes who take part in different races across the world.

The newly-elected head of the EAF said the federation would not be responsible once athletes travelled to other countries without permission of the federation and a contractual agreement between athletes and managers is signed.

At a meeting conducted at the National Hotel, located off Menelik II Avenue, on February 16, 2017, EAF discussed transfer of allegiance with athlete’s managers and athletes. Double Olympic gold medalist and the sitting president of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation, Haile Gebreselassie, spoke of athletes who suffered after they had changed their citizenship to run for other countries.

“Managers should be aware of the federation’s rules and regulations. Now, many athletes are running for different countries dealing with brokers. So, every manager is responsible,” Haile said.

“We have learned that those athletes run two marathon races in one month,” Haile said.

It was also indicated that under-age athletes were running marathons. In that regard, Ethiopia’s athletics governing body said that every agreement amongst athletes, managers and club coaches should be communicated to the federation.

Athletes’ managers raised the challenge of languages barriers while signing agreements. Depending on the result registered by athletes, they sign two contracts with managers and brands.

“Almost all athletes do not fully understand the contracts they are signing. The deal done by managers and athletes don’t even know the payment for one race. So, managers reap profits on the back of athletes,” Wondemagegn Getachew, a manager, told The Reporter.

In a move aimed at ending the alarming rate of change of citizenship by athletes, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) council meeting on February 6 in Monaco froze all new transfers of allegiance in athletics.

The move, proposed by IAAF President Sebastian Coe, was unanimously supported by the council, which exercised its powers under its constitution to revoke competition rules.

A working group, chaired by Hiroshi Yokokawa, was set up to investigate the problem, will submit proposals for new rules as a matter of urgency and no later than the end of this year. However, the decision at the 208th IAAF Council Meeting at the Riviera Marriott Hotel, Cap d’Ail, France, will not affect the 15 applications for transfer that are already in process.

“It has become abundantly clear with regular multiple transfers of athletes especially from Africa that the present rules are no longer fit for purpose,” Coe said.

Elsewhere, the federation recapped the issue of doping. Ethiopia in December adopted a zero tolerance protocol with regards to drug offences in athletics. The country's hardline stance includes introducing lifetime bans on competitors found to be using performance-enhancing drugs and passing legislation to punish doping athletes with prison sentences.

The World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) has ordered federations to conduct tests on athletes and report in three months’ time.

Ever since the former long-distance runner took the helm of EAF, the federation has developed a strong anti-doping stance. Haile is willing to send dopers to jail.