No False Start Rule proposal is withdrawn

No False Start Rule proposal is withdrawn

Wednesday 3 August 2005

Helsinki - Following considerable opposition and concern voiced by delegates, the IAAF Council withdrew its proposal of adopting a strict no-false start rule in the sprint events.

The proposal, set forth by Council at its meeting in Doha in April, would have called for immediate disqualification after a single false start. Pending further discussion and research, the rule currently in place, in which a first false start is charged to the field and the second results in disqualification, will remain in use.

Many delegates sided with the view of the IAAF Technical Committee, which disagreed with the Council’s original proposal.

“At the moment, the technology is such that all equipment is not the same,” said David Littlewood of Great Britain, adding that he’d be more in favour of the proposal if there existed a “certainty that every system would produce the same results.”

An IAAF survey of sprinters last year illustrated a clear divide in opinion, while an informal poll on its website showed considerable opposition to the rule change.

Bill Roe, the president of USA Track & Field, voiced his federation’s concern, despite the existence of the no-false start rule that is used at the NCAA level in the United States.

With different equipment being used around the world, while simply not existing in some areas, Roe said that “Success of the rule largely depends on the quality of the starters.”

Theophile Montcho of Benin agreed with Roe’s sentiments. “We don’t have these kinds of devices in our country. When our athletes participate in international events for the first time, it becomes very unfair.”

Jamaica Athletics Association President Howard Aris agreed. “There is too much uncertainty. We need more time.”

Olympian Frank Fredericks, a member of the Athletes’ Commission, said he was disappointed with the withdrawal of the proposal, but added that he understood why the decision was reached.

“There is a certain amount of gamesmanship in the sprints,” he said. “And not allowing any false start eliminates that. But I can understand where Congress is coming from. If you look in terms of the jumps and throws, where at least three attempts are allowed, having only one in the sprints doesn’t seem fair.”

IAAF president Lamine Diack said the matter will be investigated further, and may be revisited at the next IAAF Congress in 2007.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF