By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

August 8 - A proposal to include cross country running in the 2018 Winter Olympics is set to be discussed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) later this month, it has been claimed.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) revealed during a meeting of its ruling Council in Kiev that they had prepared and submitted a questionnaire concerning the Review of the 2018 Winter Olympic Programme to include cross country.

It followed a campaign started by Ethiopia's double Olympic 10,000 metres champion and world marathon record holder Haile Gebrselassie and Kenya's Paul Tergat, the 13-time World Cross Country Championship gold medallist, for the sport to be added to the Winter Olympic programme to give African countries more chance of participating in the Games and being successful.

"The IOC Programme Commission will study the document in August 2010 and come back to IAAF, if necessary, for further clarifications before submitting it to the IOC Executive Board, for decision," an IAAF statement said following the meeting in the Ukrainian capital, which was attended by several IOC members, including IAAF President Lamine Diack and Sergey Bubka, the former world record holder for the pole vault.

Sebastian Coe, the double Olympic 1500 metres champion who is now the chairman of London 2012, is also part of the Council.

Gebrselassie and Tergat wrote to International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge nearly two years ago asking him to consider their proposal.

Cross country was dropped from the Olympics after the 1924 Games in Paris when 23 of the 38 starters failed to finish due to the extreme heat and poisonous fumes from a nearby energy plant.

But even if the IOC Programme Commission, which is chaired by Italy's Franco Carraro and includes Britain's Sir Craig Reedie, back the proposal to include the sport it would still require a major change in the Olympic Charter which declares that only sports which take place on ice and snow can be included in the Winter Games.

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