Diack: False Start Rule Stays

50m times for the different strokes range from 20 to 25 seconds, which makes them pretty comparable to a 200m race on the track.

How about LaShawn Merritt’s reaction time in the 400m finals? I think someone on here pointed out that he ran for 0.13 less seconds than James in the race, yet still lost. They way I look at it, every hundredth matters in a sprint.

Wrecked by silly rules

September 4 2011 at 03:13pm
By Mzimase Mgebisa

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A view of the start as Usain Bolt prematurely leaped from the blocks, resulting in him being disqualified.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, one cannot but bemoan the apathy that sport suffers from Tom, Dick and Harriet ruining sport.

Fast forward to August 23 at the London Olympic Stadium … 80 000 paying fans salivating at the prospect of witnessing the marquee event of the Olympic Games … the race to determine the fastest man in the world.

Usain Bolt, Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake, Kim Collins and any three others line up in front of hundreds of millions of television viewers – if not a billion – and the gun sound is beaten by one of the competitor’s by a 100th of a second; and is disqualified.

That could easily be one of the three names the entire sporting world is keen on seeing at the finish line – Bolt, Gay or Powell.

With all due respect to the rest, including the “default” world champion, Blake, the interest in this race is not in the underdogs, though those do make for a good story once in a while; the interest is on the top three athletes as mentioned above.

Then rewind to last Sunday when Bolt, who had cruised into the final of the men’s 100m in Daegu, South Korea, was disqualified because of a stupid rule.

With so much invested in sport through blood, sweat, gold and emotion; it’s normal for any event or game to have a “caution” – in many sporting codes referred to as a yellow card – to warn everybody.

The many theories advanced, at the top of which is that the rules were amended in 2010 by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) because television fans were bored of the many false starts that take place in sprint races is patently flawed.

In every scenario, there ought to be an endeavour for natural justice to take place.

An athlete’s career can be ruined by nerves or by adrenalin because of the current rules in athletics.

One is not naive as to say that there were no athletes that attempted to cheat the system by staging a false start to neutralise the opposition because the entire line-up would on a caution as per the 2003 rules amendment.

However, it is the responsibility of those formulating the rules to always assume that the greater majority are in it for the right reasons.

Before 2003, disqualification occurred only after the same athlete false-started twice – which is logical and seems fair.

Thus the laws should be designed to benefit the majority.

There is no way Bolt would have wanted to cheat the field because he is the fastest man in the world, holding world and Olympic records at 100m and 200m.

The fact that Bolt manned up to say it was his fault still does not disguise the fact that the laws as they are are flawed. As commendable as it is for Bolt to accept the consequences of his eagerness, it still does not exonerate the IAAF.

Many a dream can be left wretched by rules that are designed to take the fun out of athletics.

It is with trepidation that one thinks of the constant lack of direction that engulfs many a South African sporting federation which handicaps the country from taking world-changing positions when they meet their peers at international federations.

Where were the laws of natural justice when Oscar Pistorius was deprived of a place at the 4 x 400-metre relay final having helped South Africa qualify for the spot in the first place.

This perennial failure to apply fairness irks me.

If Pistorius was not good enough to feature in the final, the head honchos at Athletics South Africa (ASA) should not have put him in a situation where he raced in the qualifiers.

You would swear that Leonard Chuene’s shadow hovers above those running the sport, despite the fact that they were newly elected.

It’s as if Chuene’s shadow keeps saying: “I’m watching you, come on now, keep cocking it up so that people may realise I was not the worst of the bunch … come on now, embellish the perverse stupidity that defined my presidency”.

How else do you explain the lack of logic and empathy that permeates the corridors of power at the national athletics association?

Cry the beloved country.

How can that be cheating? Its a gamble…just like Blackjack, slots and casino play. Do you get kicked out of a casino if you win a bunch of money?

If you are going to have the one false start rule, then any time after the gun goes off should be a legal start…no reacting 0.10 seconds after the gun.

I do not disagree with that. Maybe there is scientific evidence but the same also said we had reached the limits of human speed. Under 9.6 is not humanly possible.

Lo Hill! Long time no see! What an interesting idea.

I like the allowance of trying to anticipate the gun. If you go before the gun goes off (time 0), you get tossed. If you go at any point after the gun goes off, you get to run. That said, it’s not at all practical. The starter’s job becomes much more difficult, and people without electronic blocks have little way off accurately testing. “It looked like he left before everyone else, but I think it was after I pulled the trigger…”. It also changes rules which makes it hard to keep WR’s continuous.

Not being allowed to move for part of a race, while the timer is running, doesn’t make much sense.

I like that too.

The problem I have with the rule is for the reason lower level competitions don’t have electronic blocks and have to rely on the starters to get it right. They are humans afterall. Apply the rule as you suggest or similar, at high level events or TV events (!), but not at lower level events.