Twice Olympic medallist Bernard Lagat has asked his native Kenya for a waiver so he can defend his world indoor 3,000 metres title as a US competitor, the athlete said on Monday.
Lagat became a naturalised US citizen in May 2004, but under International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) rules he is ineligible to race for the US in international competition for three years after citizenship unless he receives a waiver from the Kenyan federation.
A waiver would reduce the wait to one year, making Lagat eligible to represent his adopted country at the world indoor championships in Moscow in March.
"We are still waiting on that," the 31-year-old Lagat said during a teleconference call from Tucson, Arizona.
"If we get the relief from the Kenyan federation, then that would work," Lagat added.
He was speaking from a Tucson hospital where his wife is expecting their first child this week.
Kenya declined to grant Lagat a waiver for last year's world outdoor championships but Lagat said he is more hopeful this time.
"I don't see anything that is going to stop them from that," he said. "If they were to say no to me, then they are not doing service for me," said Lagat, who has lived in the US for the last 10 years.
He won a bronze medal for Kenya in the 1,500 metres at the 2000 Sydney Olympics then took silver in the 2004 Athens Games. He also won silver medals in the 1,500 metres at the 2001 and 2003 world indoor championships before claiming the world indoor 3,000 metres title in 2004.
If granted the waiver Lagat said he would compete in next month's US championships in Boston, then race in Moscow in March.
Otherwise, he said he would wait until 2007 to represent the US at the world outdoor championships in Osaka, Japan.
"Of course, I would love to run for the United States soon than later," Lagat said. "But I know for sure, whether I get relief or not, I will be able to run 1,500 [metres] in Osaka, representing the United States."
Lagat is preparing to race 10,000 metres world record holder and Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia in a mile at the February 3 Millrose Games. It will be the first race between the two runners at any distance, Lagat said.