The rule-making Council of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has approved a three-year waiting period to tighten the procedures for athletes who switch nationalities to compete for other countries.

But after intense debate in Helsinki, Finland Wednesday, a proposal for a six-year waiting period was defeated by a vote of 90 to 80. The new IAAF rules are in line with the International Olympic Committee standards.

Previously, athletes were allowed to compete as soon as they completed three years without representing their old country in any major IAAF competition. Now athletes must wait three years after being granted citizenship to compete in a major international event - or one year if both countries agree.

Dozens of top athletes from Africa - primarily Kenya - have changed nationalities in recent years, most seeking lucrative deals in the Gulf countries of Qatar and Bahrain.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.