Former Olympic and world champion Cathy Freeman has questioned whether athletes should be able to represent more than one country after Sonia O'Sullivan was cleared to run for Australia at the Commonwealth Games which start tomorrow.

The Irish-born athlete, who has dual nationality, will compete in the 5,000 metres at the Games which start in Melbourne this week before representing Ireland at the European Championships in Gothenburg later this year.

Under International Association of Athletics Federation rules, athletes who have dual nationality must wait three years when they decide to compete for a country other than that of their birth.

However, the IAAF rules cover 'listed' events which do not include the Commonwealth Games and they therefore do not apply.

Now Freeman has entered the debate although she admits it is a difficult issue to resolve.

Freeman said: "When I heard about that, I thought she is actually taking away a place for some other Australian so there is that side of the story.

"But she is an Australian, her children are Australian . . . it's a tricky situation.

"I think your allegiance should be to one country. I mean, she is exercising her freedom I guess, she is not breaking the rules."

The 36-year-old, who spends six months of the year training Down Under while her partner and coach Nic Bideau and their two children are Australian, was cleared to compete yesterday by the Commonwealth Games Federation.

Chief executive Mike Hooper immediately pledged to remove such an anomaly but said the new eligibility rule had not been applied immediately in order to be fair to athletes like O'Sullivan.

Instead, the new rule will come into force for the 2010 Games in Delhi.

"Being candid, we did not know that there was this anomaly on eligibility until it came up recently concerning several athletes who have dual nationality," said Hooper.

"The anomaly had to be tidied up and we have done that. We have refined the rules.

"So, in the case of Sonia O'Sullivan, we wish her well in Melbourne but that loophole is now closed."

Bideau, however, was bemused by the reference to a loophole.

He said: "It's not a loophole.

"Sonia is only following the actual IAAF rules. That's my reading of it."

Hooper, explaining why there had been a need to alter the CGF's eligibility rules, said: "We have, for example, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland competing separately in Melbourne, whereas the IAAF rules cover Great Britain.

"We should apply the same rules at Commonwealth Games as there are for other high-level events."