Aljaz Bedene has switched nationality again. After living in Britain since 2008 the Slovenian applied for British citizenship in 2015 and this was granted.
Bedene had wanted to further his tennis career under the British flag and hoped to play Davis Cup and Olympics for his adopted country.
Under ITF rules, to be able to play Olympics for a country, you have to be available for Davis Cup selection in the preceding two years.
The ITF made a change to their rules at the end of 2014 to be implemented from the following year, whereby any player who had already taken part in a Davis Cup rubber for once country, would not be allowed to play for another country.
This was to avoid players switching allegiances on a whim, just to get to play Davis Cup and Olympics.
As a result of this, Bedene was refused by the ITF to play for his new adopted country, because the Slovenian had played a dead rubber in three consecutive years in Davis Cup.
With the help of the Lawn Tennis Association, Bedene appealed against this ban on the grounds that his passport application had been submitted well before the rule change came into effect.
The ITF rejected this appeal, the full ruling has not been released but the ITF have stated that Bedene played for Slovenia he would not be allowed to play for Britain. Another appeal followed, but this was also rejected.
Because Bedene is desperate to play in the Olympics, the Slovenian felt he had no option but to switch back to Slovenian to enable this to happen.
Had the decision by the ITF gone the other way, Bedene would still be playing under the British flag and his dream of playing Olympics for the new country would be on.
Had this been a one off by the ITF it could be argued that the decision was the correct one, and that it will stop players from “smaller” countries changing to larger or more tennis favourable countries to get to play.
Dustin Brown who was born in Germany, but brought up in Jamaica from 2002 to 2010 and played one Davis Cup rubber as a teenager.
In 2010 he switched from Jamaican to German having been born there (Brown could have applied to be a Brit as his grandparents are British).
Brown was granted the right to play Davis Cup and therefore Olympics by the ITF at the same time that Bedene was refused.
The German Tennis federation had not applied in time for the new ruling, but the ITF decided to allow the appeal for the now German.
The only difference it appears between Bedene and Brown, is that the former played three dead rubbers before the switch, whereas Brown only played one rubber. How this makes such a difference to the ITF is difficult to see.
Whatever the reasons the ITF had, refusing the Brit the right to play for his new adopted country shattered the dreams of the 28 year old, and it appears he felt he had no choice but to switch back again.
Bedene still holds a British passport but now represents Slovenia again, in an attempt to play the Olympics in 2020. He is once again available to be selected for the Slovenian Davis Cup team, meaning that he can therefore be selected for the Olympics next time round.
The ITF decision seems to be purely based on when the documents were submitted by Bedene and the LTA, although the ITF acknowledged that the German Tennis association also missed the deadline, yet their appeal was upheld.
Both players were in the same situation, yet Brown’s appeal was upheld, whilst Bedene’s was refused. How can this be right? My opinion is that the ITF got this wrong and they should either have allowed both, or refused both.