All transfers of allegiance between countries have been frozen with immediate effect by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), it has been announced here today.
This is being introduced to halt the exodus of African athletes to other countries.
A working group headed by Cameroon's Hamad Kolkaba Malboum has been set up to study potential changes.
They hope to propose far sterner criteria for switching countries by August's IAAF Congress in London.
Malboum is particularly keen to end the current practice of countries who hand permits to athletes from Africa but without giving them full lifelong nationality.
He would not single out countries at fault, but it is thought Turkey, Qatar and Bahrain are particularly culpable.
"The present situation is wrong - what we have is a wholesale market for African talent open to the highest bidder," Malboum said.
"Our present rules are being manipulated to the detriment of athletics’ credibility.
"Lots of the individual athletes concerned, many of whom are transferred at a young age, do not understand that they are forfeiting their nationality.
"This must end and a new way forward found which respects the athletes’ rights and the sport's dignity."
One of the best known nationality switches involved Saif Saaeed Shaheen, who, as a Kenyan named Stephen Cherono, won gold at the Junior World Championships in 1999 and Commonwealth Games in 2002, before switching 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 himself denied this.
Fourteen of the 22 individual running events at the Incheon 2014 Asian Games were won by athletes of African origin who had switched nationality, either to Qatar, Bahrain or the United Arab Emirates.
In December Aras Kaya and Yasemin Can, two Kenyan-born athletes running for Turkey, claimed the respective male and female titles at the European Cross Country Championships in Chia.
Irish athletics legend and Sydney 2000 Olympic silver medallist Sonia O'Sullivan criticised the IAAF rule which allowed Can and Akda to switch nationalities so easily.
There have also been cases of athletes moving nations in different parts of the world primarily in order to further their international careers.
At a lower level, agents are also thought to be ransacking Kenyan schools in order to recruit potential athletes to change their names and relocate outside the country.
"It has become abundantly clear with regular multiple transfers of athletes especially from Africa that the present rules are no longer fit for purpose," added IAAF President Sebastian Coe today.
"Athletics, which at its highest levels of competition is a championship sport based upon national teams, is particularly vulnerable in this respect.
"Furthermore, the present rules do not offer the protections necessary to the individual athletes involved and are open to abuse."
Some, however, have switched for more genuine reasons, such as Denmark's Kenyan-born former 800 metres world record holder Wilson Kipketer.
He moved to the European country as an exchange student to study engineering before marrying his Danish girlfriend Pernille in 2000.
It took him seven years to become a full Danish citizen and the International Olympic Committee barred him from competing for his adopted country at Atlanta 1996 because he did not have a Danish passport.