More than a dozen athletes who have changed nationalities were given permission yesterday to compete for their new homelands at the Athens Games.

One of the highest-profile cases concerned Swiss rower Xeno Mueller, an Olympic gold medalist in Atlanta and silver medalist in Sydney, who wants to compete for the United States during the Aug. 13-29 Games.

Also, former world-class javelin thrower Sofia Sakorafa of Greece can represent Palestine if she qualifies.

Olympic rules allow an athlete who has competed for one country to represent another provided he or she hasn't taken part in international events for three years. The IOC regularly deals with these requests, particularly in the months before the Summer and Winter Games.

Mueller, a 31-year-old single sculler, has lived in the United States since 1992. He has had a long-standing dispute with the Swiss Rowing Federation.

Mueller will be able to join the U.S. rowing team in Athens if he wins one of the top two spots in single sculls at the final Olympic qualifying regatta at Lucerne, Switzerland, in June.

The 47-year-old Sakorafa was part of the Greek Olympic team at the 1980 Moscow Games and won a bronze medal at the 1982 European championships. She hasn't competed for Greece since the early 1990s.

If she qualifies for Athens, Sakorafa will become the fifth athlete slated to compete for the Palestinians at the games, joining two runners, a swimmer and a boxer, Palestinian deputy sports minister Jamal Mohainsen said.

The IOC said 14 other athletes could compete for their new homelands.

The IOC also allowed a handful of athletes to compete for Hong Kong. The Chinese autonomous region -- a former British colony -- sends a separate team to the Olympics.

Test Positive

Wrestler Faruk Sahin tested positive for a banned stimulant and accepted a provisional suspension while the case goes to arbitration, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said.

Sahin tested positive for phentermine at the U.S. National Championships on April 10, where he won the 1451/2-pound division in Greco-Roman wrestling.

USA Wrestling said Sahin has agreed not to compete in the U.S. Olympic trials this weekend in Indianapolis. He would have been the No. 1 seed, meaning he would have needed only to win a best-of-three series Sunday against the winner of the trials' preliminary tournament to make the Olympic team.

Oscar Wood, the runner-up at the U.S. nationals, now becomes the No. 1 seed and does not have to compete in the Friday and Saturday preliminaries.

Soldiered Railways

Greek soldiers will be used to guard train stations during the Olympics as security plans continue to expand with the games less than three months away.

Transport Minister Michalis Liapis asked for military personnel to "guard sensitive junctions, tanks, tunnels and railway facilities."

"As you know the railway network is spread out and, therefore, there are some dangers," Liapis said following talks with Defense Minister Spilio Spiliotopoulos.

A meeting is planned later this week to work out details for the deployment -- part of 70,000 personnel from the police, armed forces and other agencies being used to help safeguard the Games.

Greece is spending more than $1.2 billion on the security plans, which includes assistance from NATO and a seven-nation advisory group led by the United States and Britain.