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FACTBOX: Athletes who have swapped passports
(Reuters) - Scores of athletes at the Beijing Olympics have swapped passports during their lives, sometimes with the sole objective of competing at the Games.
Here are just a few of the sporting "defectors".
BECKY HAMMON - Born in the United States, she will represent Russia in the basketball tournament. She has no ancestral link to Russia, but received a passport after she signed a four-year deal last year worth $2 million to play with the CSKA Moscow professional club. She agreed to jump ships after failing to win guarantees that she would be picked for the U.S. team.
SAIF SAAEED SHAHEEN - Born in Kenya and formerly called Stephen Cherono, he emigrated to Qatar in 2003 for a package that included a $1,000 monthly stipend for life. A double world steeplechase champion, he has been highly unpopular back in Kenya ever since. He was detained by airport authorities for 15 hours in 2006 after trying to enter the country without a visa.
BERNARD LAGAT - Became a U.S. citizen in 2004 after winning a silver medal for Kenya in the 1,500 meters at the Athens Games. He explained his move, saying he had studied in the United States and lived there for almost a decade. The U.S. has traditionally had a dearth of world-class, middle-distance runners and were delighted to give him a passport. The other two U.S. athletes competing at this distance were born in Mexico and Sudan.
MATT REED - Will represent the U.S. in the triathlon and compete against his older brother, Shane, who races for New Zealand where both were born. Matt moved to the United States and received residency after he got married. "I won't know whether to help him or beat him up," Shane said. "We're really competitive -- we have been for many years."
OXANA CHUSOVITINA - The 33-year-old gymnast will be competing in her fifth Olympics for her third country -- Germany. She first marched under the banner of the former Soviet Union's Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) at Barcelona in 1992, where she won team gold, and competed for Uzbekistan in 1996, 2000 and 2004. She moved to Germany so that her son could be treated for cancer and subsequently took up citizenship.
JUN GAO - Won silver for China in table tennis doubles at the 1992 Olympics. She would have been a favorite to win the gold in 1996 but had since married an American and decided to seek U.S. citizenship. She represented America in 2000 and 2004, but left empty-handed. This is her last chance to pick up a gold.
JESSICA HARRISON - English-born Harrison will compete for France in the triathlon, an unusual passport swap in the world of sport. She moved to France after leaving university in 1999 to train in a warmer climate, but missed out on the British Olympic squad for the 2004 Games. She applied for French citizenship and says she trained harder to get into their team for 2008.
(Reporting by Crispian Balmer and Pritha Sarkar; Editing by Ed Osmond)
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