No False Start rule

This summer IAAF Congress on the recommendation of Council will decide whether or not to introduce a No False Start Rule.

Are you in favour of such a rule?


1) No 56.16%
2) Yes 43.84%

Go to polls section

I’m not sure on this one. Imagine someone like Carl Lewis with a tool like the current rule. He’d false start first every time to hold others back longer on the next one. At least with a no false start rule, no one could do that

Either the old rule or the one applied last weekend in the European Cup or whatever it’s called these days, i.e., no false start allowed. But not in a rule that can take you out of the race due to others’ tactics.

The no false start rule certainly worked very well at the European Team Cup. There was not a single false start in 21 sprint races, and reaction times were still okay (a couple in the 0.14s range and many at 0.15s and 0.16s).

Hi Charlie,

Doesn’t the new rule just put the athletes in the same position they would be after an athlete deliberately broke? Wouldn’t the fast starters be at the same disadvantage as the one you described above? Only that another athlete doesn’t actually have to break to bring about these circumstances?

I think they should just bring back the old rules. I don’t know how it was for TV but I thought false starts built anticipation.

I really don’t see how hard it is not to false start. I would vote for a ‘no false start rule’…IF a lot of the starters weren’t total boneheads.

You’re right in one sense but,often, people get uptight after a false start as they must re-focus in a shorter time than they had the first time and tactics can still be used. Imagine competitors losing initial focus after ten matches in a row with the same guy false starting each time- and then he doesn’t!.

There are many other issues at big comps, including flash bulbs and noises that aren’t there at smaller meets. There is also the issue of over-reliance on the automatic recall devices that may be set to too high a sensitivity- like at the WCs in 2003 where normal movements trigger the alarm.

I would like to see the stats on false starts since the new rule has been in place. I’d assume that there are now more first false starts for the reasons that Charlie identified.

The no-false start rule was used this winter during the Paris indoor meeting, and it was a catastroph. The banked track is linked with the wood structure of the indoor hall, and movements in the crowd made the signal ring anytime. Heats provided all kind of reaction times, in final a clear false start was not recalled, a Brazillian smashed his PB with 6.52 with a RT well under 0.100 but the starter could not rely on the headphones and didn’t noticed the Brazilian moving in lane 1.

There may alsobe the accumulation of delays caused by false starts. In a major championship where there are many heats, especially in the opening round, there can potentially be a long delay for the guys in the last heat as the delay spills and builds. So not only do the last guys get mucked around, so does the programme (sometimes, depending what follows) and the television schedule - and TV is what it’s mostly about.

Makes sense.

How about the no false start rule in big games until the semis and then the old rule kicks in.

With the no false start rule, would a starter in an invitational meet have the balls to kick Bolt out after the meet pays him 250,000? He might go for it thinking they wouldn’t dare- and he might be right. What would they do about a record?

I wouldn’t be comfortable being the starter with the new false start rule in a non-championship meet. With big payments already having been made (presumably), that would be a high pressure job.

Out of curiosity, can the starter call a false start but after reviewing the data, charge a false start to neither the field nor an individual? Basically, can they indirectly say “I screwed up by firing the gun again”? Is the system automated to fire again after a RT<0.100 in a big meet?

I am passionate about this. Starting is supposed to be a reaction. You hear the gun you start running, its simple. You start running before the gun goes and you are not reacting to the gun, which starting is supposed to be. I accept there are other noises at big meets but they arent like a gun. So I say bring on the new rule, it works ok in swimming…

The JA Boyz might answer with gunfire of their own:rolleyes:

Swimming feels very different though. Being on swimming blocks for some reason just doesn’t have the same urgency that sprinting does - perhaps its body position, perhaps something else.

One thing that I am certain of is that they need to revise the reaction time threshold now that the new starting rule is inplace. It’s redundant. If you make first false start a DQ you have already removed any incentive to anticipate the gun.

This article has information about reaction times in the Beijing Men’s 4x100 Freestyle (the race in which Lezak of the USA chased down Bernard of France).

I don’t really know much about swimming. Is there a higher threshold? Reaction times as stated in the above article are 0.7xs, which would obviously be a false start in athletics.