Belfast Telegraph

Sprinter Leon Reid hits new snag in bid to run for Ireland

Athletics

By Brian Hill

There now appears to be major doubts about Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games 200 metres medallist Leon Reid being cleared to compete in the European Athletics Championships which commence in Berlin on Monday.

At the weekend Athletics Ireland included Leon in a 42- strong Irish team, subject to the outcome of the findings of an IAAF Review Panel.

This Panel has been tasked with considering cases of athletes wishing to transfer countries under new restrictive rules designed to clamp down on what had become an abuse of the previous arrangements.

It now appears that under the new requirements, an athlete’s waiting period of three years will be considered only “from the date that the application for approval is made to the IAAF”.

There is also a stipulation that at the end of that period, the athlete must have “a genuine, close,  credible and established link to that country or territory (eg through residence there)”.

While residence is defined as where someone ordinarily lives for at least 75% of the time, former Great Britain athlete Leon could present a strong argument that he does in fact have strong ties to Ireland.

The 24-year-old has dual nationality. His birth mother was from Belfast while his adoptive mother lives in Wexford.

He also competes for an Irish athletics club and  holds several Irish and Northern Ireland titles.

However the key stumbling block appears to be the date of application to the IAAF .

It is understood that Reid’s request to transfer was made to the IAAF in January 2017 —  just prior to the IAAF implementing a freeze in February 2017 on all transfers pending a Review. Leon’s waiting period would not therefore be completed until January 2020 — some 18 months from now.

Northern Ireland record holder Reid has always argued that his case should be considered under the old rules before the new guidelines were drafted.

Under that scenario he would  now have just  completed a three-year waiting time since he last competed for GB in July 2015 when he won a silver medal in the European U23 Championships.

It appears that the main hope for Leon is that the IAAF will use its discretion to waive these new requirements “in circumstances that are deemed exceptional”, according to their criteria.

Leon will be bitterly disappointed if he is not permitted to compete in Berlin next week as he had placed all his hopes on a successful conclusion to this long saga. A decision has to  be made by early Sunday afternoon at the latest, three hours before the European Athletics Technical meeting .

Leon was on top form at last weekend’s Irish Life Health Senior Championships in Dublin where he achieved a sprint double in the 100m and 200m.

Belfast Telegraph

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