Bath-based sprinter Leon Reid has successfully appealed to the IAAF to clear his transfer of allegiance from Britain to Ireland just in time for next week's European Athletics Championships in Berlin.
Despite some concern that Reid would fall just short of the new criteria, he is now set to compete in both the 100m and 200m, having won a National sprint double over 100m-200m in Santry at the weekend, before being provisionally named in the 42-strong Irish team for Berlin.
This was still subject to final ratification from the IAAF, the governing body of world athletics, who early last year put a freeze on all such international transfers in part to crackdown on athletes competing under so-called flags of convenience.
Having represented Great Britain at junior and under-23 level up to July 2015, winning championship medals in both grades, Reid, just turned 24, fell under some of the new transfer criteria agreed by the IAAF at the Council Meeting in Buenos Aires last Friday.
However according to an IAAF source, Reid and representatives from Athletics Ireland claimed he first submitted his transfer case in January 2017, having received his Irish passport in December 2016, before the IAAF freeze was put in place in February 2017, and was therefore exempt from that section of the new criteria.
Athletics Ireland also argued that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) would have supported his case, under the fairness principle, which is part of the new IAAF transfer criteria.
The Bath-born Reid, whose late birth mother was from Belfast, had initially had his application held up as a result of that freeze: under the full list of new criteria, his application for a transfer must have been made to the IAAF three years prior to Berlin.
Under the new transfer policy, however, the IAAF also state the athlete must have “or will have a genuine, close, credible and established link to that country or territory (e.g. through residence there)”, and this will apply to all future such transfers.
Reid has spent time visiting relatives in Ireland, and does run with the Wexford Club Menapians AC, but still lives and trains in Bath. Reid has already run faster than the Irish 200m record this year, clocking a new personal best of 20.27 in Birmingham at the beginning of the month (inside Paul Hession’s 20.30); he also won bronze in the 200m on the Gold Coast representing Northern Ireland, and always believed the decision was imminent to clear his path to compete in Berlin.
At the National Championships, he beat Marcus Lawlor from Carlow in the 200m, nailing victory on the line in 20.76 seconds. He then came back out on the Saturday and won the 100m in 10.42. He’s also the double Irish indoor sprint champion, and is a potential finalist in Berlin in the 200m.