Open Letter To Sebastian Coe & The IAAF Council


As we approach the one year mark of the IAAF’s freeze on transfers of allegiance, I encourage the IAAF Council to be expedient in its deliberations on new rules for the process. I am sure that the Council is aware and that the Council understands that the freeze, in effect, freezes the professional careers, and the limited earning potential, of those athletes that the IAAF seeks to protect.


It is commendable, however, that the IAAF is reviewing the process of transfer of allegiances as, undoubtedly, there have been abuses that have harmed athletes.


Additionally, being the coach of several U.S. athletes who’s personal lives and professional careers have benefitted from naturalization and such a transfer, I would like to express my perspective on the naturalization process and the factors that, in our case,I believe truly contribute to their American nationality.


Residency and Education

All of the fifteen-plus athletes whom I coach are graduates of US universities with several of them being graduates of US high schools, as well. The shortest continuous US residency of the group is eight years, with the longest being over fifteen years.


Military Service

The majority of the athletes that I coach achieved U.S. citizenship through service in the U.S. Army.  Most of them were stationed as active duty soldiers at military bases around the U.S. and around the world before being accepted into the World Class Athlete Program, with several being deployed to active war zones. All have ranks of Specialists and above, with most achieving Sergeant and the highest rank being Captain.


Refugee Asylum

Several of the athletes in our group came to the U.S. seeking asylum as refugees at young ages.  That refugee status, as well as eventual citizenship, changed their lives for the better in so many ways outside of athletics.



Most of the athletes in our training group have had children who are themselves U.S. citizens by birth and most of their spouses are U.S. citizens, as well.


Property Ownership

As our athletes have progressed in their professional athletic and military careers, most have purchased homes in the U.S.


It is clear to see that in our case, here in the United States, the achievement of citizenship is an arduous process that is not reversible or revocable. It is also clear to see that naturalization and the transfer of allegiance benefits the individual’s life long term. Indeed, it is my belief that it is our athletes' American educations and their American culture that continue to contribute to their development as top level athletes.


I reiterate my call for the IAAF to quickly amend the transfer of allegiance rules, process the pending transfers and to consider the factors outlined above in your deliberations.


Scott Simmons

Head Coach

American Distance Project / U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program 

Naturalized Athletes of the ADP/US Army WCAP

Paul Chelimo (US Army Specialist)

Stanley Kebenei (Nike)

Shadrack Kipchirchir (US Army Specialist)

Hillary Bor (US Army Sergeant)

Leonard Korir (US Army Specialist)

Sam Chelanga (Nike)

Biya Simbassa

Elkanah Kibet (US Army Sergeant)

Augustus Maiyo (US Army Sergeant)

Haron Lagat (US Army Specialist)

Emmanuel Bor (US Army Specialist)

Lawi Lalang (US Army Specialist)

Robert Cheseret (US Army Captain)

Eliud Rutto (US Army Specialist)

Susan Tanui (US Army Specialist)

Kirubel Erassa

© 2015 by American Distance Project


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