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Steeplechase Champ Won’t Run in Athens

March 20, 2004

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ World steeplechase champion Saif Saeed Shaheen of Qatar will not compete at the Athens Olympics because of a conflict over his nationality switch from Kenya last year.

The Kenyan-born Shaheen, formerly known as Stephen Cherono, has not received permission from the Kenyan Olympic Committee to compete at the Olympics for Qatar.

``Unfortunately I will not be able to start in the Olympic Games this summer,″ he said after finishing fifth in the world cross country short race Saturday.

The IAAF, track’s world governing body, is considering a rules change to prevent athletes from switching countries for commercial gain.

Under the current rules, three years must pass before an athlete can compete for another country, unless there is a bilateral agreement to skip the measure. Kenya said it will refuse to allow Shaheen run in Athens.

Shaheen has said Qatar agreed to pay him $1,000 a month for the rest of his life to make the switch. He was allowed to compete at the world track and field championships last year, and became the first non-Kenyan to win the steeplechase in 16 years.

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