DURBAN, South Africa, November 23. AS discussed in an editorial a few weeks back by Phillip Whitten, the nation of Qatar has made it clear that it is willing to pay top-rate swimmers for their services. Basically, Qatar has offered substantial sums of money for big-time names to switch their nationalities and compete for the Arab nation in major competition.
One of the swimmers that Qatar has recently approached is Roland Schoeman, the South African sensation who helped his country to a gold medal and world record at the in the 400 freestyle relay at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Last summer, at the World Championships in Montreal, Schoeman won gold in the 50 free and 50 fly and took silver in the 100 free.
Here is a statement from Swimming South Africa on Schoeman’s offer from Qatar.
Roland Schoeman has recently informed Mr. Jace Naidoo, President of Swimming South Africa, that the Qatar Swimming Federation has approached him with a view to him signing a long-term contract to represent Qatar in return for a substantial financial package. Acceptance of this offer by Roland would require him to change his ‘Sport Nationality’ from South Africa to Qatar.
In order for the transfer of sport nationality to become effective it would require Roland to comply with the recently amended FINA regulations governing this aspect of the sport.
Roland is almost certain to be included in Swimming South Africa’s plans for the 2006 Commonwealth Games in March and the 2006 FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships in April .
To date Roland has not made a decision one way or another and the uncertainty caused by this pending response could impact on his participation in the upcoming Commonwealth Games and World Short Course Championships.
Swimming South Africa has approached its commercial sponsors as well as SASCOC and the National Ministry of Sport to assist with finding alternatives to this lucrative offer from Qatar but to date no offer has been forthcoming.