Sebastian Coe criticizes nationality changes for money

HAVANA (September 25, 2003) – On Tuesday (September 23) in Havana, Sebastian Coe –the British middle distance runner who shone in 1979-82 – criticized talent stealing using legal subterfuge and economic offers, reported Prensa Latina.

He is currently in Cuba as a member of the UK-Cuba Initiative and aims to strengthen sports links and trade between both countries.

After a visit to the Cuban Sports Institute (INDER) together with Colin Moynihan, co-president of UK-Cuban Initiative, the runner who set nine world open-air records in 800, 1,000 and 1,500-meter races criticized changes of nationality intended to obtain better sports results.

Coe told a group of journalists that in his opinion, changing nationality is one of the greatest challenges the IAAf faces. He considers it dangerous that “countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya and Cuba, to mention just a few,” dedicating hard to come by resources to track and field should lose athletes because other countries pay more.

“Many of these nations have built up a great history in sports with good training methods and national resources,” he emphasized, adding that their most important figures then receive a large sum of money, motivating them to change their nationality to that of a country lacking in sports history.

Coe affirmed that there are “no immediate answers to stop this phenomena” explaining that he has only been “on the IAAF Council for a few weeks” but the subject will certainly be up for discussion.

However, he did clarify that the case of Kenyan Wilson Kipketer was different – the athlete married a Danish woman, studied in Denmark and then later decided to represent the Scandinavian country.

He did not receive a check to move to another country, said Coe, an economics and political sciences graduate from Britain.

Regarding London’s wish to host the 2012 Olympic Games, Coe confirmed that all is going well and, like Havana, in January 2004 the city is obliged to present a report in Lausanne, Switzerland, in order to be included among the official hopefuls.

Coe added: Cuban sport, is very good, it has “limited resources and a small population” but good quality athletes because the island understands the idea of selecting talented people in a differentiated way and giving them a good training, without affecting others who choose to practice physical activities.

Granma International Digital

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