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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Bahrain rejects appeal on ban of marathon runner

Bahrain rejects appeal on ban of marathon runner
Jerusalem Post, Jan. 18, 2007
Kenya-born, Bahraini runner Mushir Salem Jawher returned to Bahrain this week in an attempt to negotiate with authorities who stated they would revoke his citizenship and ban him from competing for two years, after he participated in the Tiberias Marathon in Israel.
However, according to Jawher's agent and coach Dorothee Paulmann, the Bahrain Athletics Association refused to sway from their original position. Instead, they reiterated their refusal to allow Jawher to compete for Bahrain or any other country.
The runner expressed disappointment when he learned this week that the association - while not expelling him from the team - would prohibit him from competing as punishment both for participating in the Israeli race, and for not surrendering his Kenyan passport three years ago, when he received his Bahraini citizenship.
In a phone interview from Germany with The Jerusalem Post, Paulmann expressed her doubt that the association could legally revoke Jawher's citizenship.
"They probably realized that they couldn't revoke his citizenship without getting in trouble with the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF). Now, in order to punish him, he told me that they want to ban him from running for two years." said Paulmann.
"They probably cannot take his citizenship, but they can stop him from representing the country at official events," said Paulmann, who was sure the Bahrainis called Jawher back to set the record straight.
A senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official, meanwhile, said that Israel had not held a discussion about the possibility of granting Jawher Israeli citizenship.
"Citizenship issues are very complicated," the official said. "At this stage we have not discussed the issue."
The official said that in order for Israel to grant citizenship, a request had to be registered, and Jawher had not done so. "We do not impose citizenship on anyone," he said.
Paulmann added that that Jawher's dismissal from the team was particularly unfortunate because he was supposed to represent Bahrain in two world championships and in the Olympic games next year.
"They are trying to punish him, but this may also affect other runners. They hired two more runners who will now see how they [Bahrain] treat their runners."
Paulmann said that Jawher "had a serious injury in 2005 which made them not interested in him until he won a silver medal at the Asian Games. I think they just don't take their athletes seriously. As long as you perform and you do what they want, you are welcome. But when things go in a way they didn't expect, you are just like rubbish." The Bahrain Athletics Association confirmed on Wednesday night that Jawher was in Bahrain but refused to give any more details.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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