By Paul Osborne at the Main Press Centre in Incheon

Femi Ogunode is one of many African-born athletes to win gold for their adopted nations here at the Asian Games ©AFP/Getty ImagesThe Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) needs to do more work in order for countries and regions to stop "buying" athletes, claims the organisation's honorary life vice-president Wei Jizhong.

The opening night of athletics competition on Saturday (September 27) saw three African-born athletes win gold medals on the track here at the Asian Games, causing concerns that nations were simply "buying" talent in order to win medals.

First Alia Saeed Mohammed, originally from Ethiopia before changing allegiance to the United Arab Emirates in 2010, won a fiercely contested 10,000 metres race when she fought off Ding Changqin of China and Ayumi Hagiwara of Japan to win in a personal best 31min 51.86sec.

This was followed by Moroccan-born Qatari Mohamed Al Garni claiming the men's 5,000m title, fending off challenges from two Bahraini rivals.

Bahrain had a foreign import of their own win gold in the final contest of the night, as Kenyan-born runner Ruth Jebet sealed gold in the women's 3,000m steeplechase.

Ethiopian-born Alia Saeed Mohammed won gold for the United Arab Emirates in the women's 10,000m on the opening night of athletics ©AFP/Getty ImagesEthiopian-born Alia Saeed Mohammed won gold for the United Arab Emirates in the women's 10,000m on the opening night of athletics ©AFP/Getty Images

The trend continued yesterday as Qatari Femi Ogunode broke the Asian Games and Asian Continental record when he clocked a time of 9.93sec in the men's 100m.

The Nigerian-born sprinter broke the record previously held by fellow Nigerian Qatari Samuel Francis, who finished eighth in the same final.

This is, of course, not the first time that concerns have been raised over foreign athletes representing wealthy Gulf States, with a mass of Kenya-born runners switching allegiances for alleged financial gains.

The most famous case came with Kenyan-born Qatari Saif Saaeed Shaheen.

Born Stephen Cherono, the Kenyan won gold at the Junior World Championships in 1999 and Commonwealth Games in 2002, before switching allegiances to Qatar in 2003.

Along with a name change, Shaheen was reported to have received a sum of $1 million (£620,000/€790,000) to become a Qatari citizen, although the athlete denied this.

After about 40 athletes had left the country, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki made a speech before the 2005 World Championships in which he said: "Let us resist the temptation to change our citizenship for financial gains."

The most famous case of athletes switching allegiance is arguably that of Saif Saaeed Shaheen who switched from Kenya to Qatar in 2003 ©Getty ImagesThe most famous case of athletes switching allegiance is arguably that of Saif Saaeed Shaheen, who switched from Kenya to Qatar in 2003 ©Getty Images

During a press conference here, Wei warned of the dangers of buying foreign athletes to gain instant success in sport.

"Your worry is correct, we have work in order to avoid any country or region 'buying' athletes instead of training their athletes," said Wei, who is also the Honorary Life President of the International Volleyball Federation. 

"This will lower the sports standards in that country."

However, OCA director general Husain Al-Musallam claimed he was not concerned about the possibility that an influx of African talent could discourage young Asian athletes from taking up the sport.

"No, we are not worried," the Kuwaiti said.

"These athletes will raise the standard.

"They have met all the eligibility requirements and they are eligible to compete.

"They [Asian] athletes will work harder to achieve a higher standard."

Al-Musallam also claimed that hundreds of applications from African-born athletes hoping to switch allegiance were being turned down by Gulf States.

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