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O'Sullivan pulls out of 5,000m

Written by: Staff
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MELBOURNE, Mar 21 (Reuters) Irish middle-distance runner Sonia O'Sullivan, controversially cleared to run for Australia at the Commonwealth Games, has pulled out of Friday's 5,000 metres because of injury, officials said today.

Games organisers said in a statement that O'Sullivan had failed to recover from a hamstring injury suffered in training.

O'Sullivan, 26, was born in the Republic of Ireland, which is not a Commonwealth member, but was selected to run for Australia, where she lives and trains about half the year. Games officials said a week ago that O'Sullivan, who ran for Ireland at four Olympics, could run in Melbourne despite deciding to close a loophole in eligibility rules allowing her to compete.

O'Sullivan was granted Australian citizenship about two months ago and ran in the Australian trials in February.

Under international regulations, athletes normally have to sit out international competition for three years before they can compete for another country.

That clause has not previously applied to the Games but the Commonwealth Games Federation general assembly voted last Sunday to close the loophole. Athletes with dual citizenship must now follow international regulations.

The federation said it would be unfair to apply it in O'Sullivan's case because team selections had already been made, even though Commonwealth officials said it made a ''mockery'' of the competition.

Concerns over the loophole were raised after O'Sullivan said she also wanted to compete for Ireland at this year's European championships.

REUTERS PM PM1505

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