A uniform 12 month waiting period for skaters wishing to switch nationality has been approved as part of wide-ranging reforms of eligibility rules at the International Skating Union (ISU) Congress here today.
It comes after criticism of a lack of consistency in the overly complicated rules, which has caused friction when skaters have attempted to switch between nations.
Under the previous system, there had been a 18 month waiting period in singles skating but only a 12 month one in pairs and ice dancing.
There had also been separate rules for different levels of competition.
This has now been changed to one blanket 12 month period in order to achieve “consistency of rules”.
Other measures were also approved with the aim of reaching a compromise between allowing athletes to compete and not making it too easy to switch between countries, thus wasting the investment of the country being left and making a mockery of the principle of nationality.
Changing nationality is a particularly common trend in pairs and ice dancing in order to compete with a well-matched partner from another nation, particularly because each country is only permitted to register one team in many competitions.
Permission must be given by the country from where the athlete is leaving, with this having led to several notable disputes in recent years.
One concerned a longstanding conflict between France and Germany after Bruno Massot attempted to change nationality from the former to the latter in order to team-up with five-time world champion Aliona Savchenko.
But Massot was denied permission by the French Federation of Ice Sports (FFSG), who reportedly demanded a €70,000 (£55,000/$79,000) release fee.
He eventually made the switch after a 16-month process.
A similar dispute occurred between France and Russia over a switch made by Tiffany Zahorski in order to partner with Jonathan Guerreiro, with these issues considered one reason why FFSG head Didier Gailhaguet lost support in the race for the ISU Presidency in which he came third today behind Dutch winner Jan Dijkema.
Germany made several other successful proposals, including the scrapping of any exchanging of money to facilitate a transfer.
Rules were also changed so that if one skater had dual nationality and want to switch from one to the other, then permission does not need to be granted.
All these decisions still need to be officially drawn up in the new rules, insidethegames was told, with this process due to take place tomorrow.
“A proposal to provide consistency to the Rule 109 regarding the participation in competitionsand permit requirement was passed,” the ISU said in a statement.
“The new rule helps clarify the issue of athlete clearances and harmonises the waiting period for release to 12 months.”