Bulgarian Wrestler's Future as 'Plastic Brit' Hangs in BalanceSports | January 4, 2012, Wednesday // 16:24| views
A handout picture released by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) on 21 December 2011 shows an aerial view of the Olympic Stadium in the Olympic Park looking south in London, Britain, 05 December 2011. Photo by BGNES
The British government is preparing a clampdown on foreign athletes seeking to represent Britain at the 2012 Olympic Games, one of whom is Bulgarian wrestler Krassimir Krastanov.
After months of hot debates, UK Sports Minister Hugh Robertson told The Independent on Sunday that he is opposed to such fast-tracking in the quest to bolster Britain's medal haul.
"I think that all naturalized athletes should follow the normal citizenship requirements and I do not support fast-tracking people to win a medal," Robertson told The Independent.
"Therefore while I am supportive of [Kevin] Pietersen, who came here through a family connection to become English and served all the necessary qualifying periods, the wrestlers do not seem to be in the same category."
The issue came into the spotlight after it emerged that several grapplers from eastern Europe, including Bulgarian Krastanov, are trying to qualify for the British team. Four of the seven-strong squad on the world-class performance program are from Ukraine, and one from Bulgaria.
Particularly contentious is the issue of qualification via marriage, writes The Independent.
It adds that in the wrestling community there are believed to have been five marriages to Britons which wrestling bosses insist are all "above board".
It takes five years to become a naturalized British citizen, though this can be expedited through marriage.
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