x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

IAAF will not rush out of the blocks for false-start rule change

Outcry for change one-and-you-are-done rule spreads to the general public following Usain Bolt's disqualification from last Sunday's 100m final.

DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA // The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) will not be rushed into revising the controversial false-start rule that sent Usain Bolt crashing out of the world championships 100 metres, a top official said yesterday.

The one-and-you-are-done rule has been in effect since January 2010 and most sprinters do not like it.

But it was not until Bolt, the Jamaican world record holder, shot out of his blocks ahead of the starter's gun in Sunday's 100m final that the outcry for change spread to the general public.

"There definitely has been feedback," Paul Hardy, the IAAF competitions director, said of vast amount of emails he had received on the subject. "It is big enough that it may be reviewed. But remember we are always reviewing our rules." The IAAF Council, in extraordinary cases, has the authority to make interim changes to rules.

It meets again on Sunday and while it may discuss the Bolt incident it is unlikely to consider any substantial changes. The group that is normally the starting point for rules changes, the IAAF Technical Committee, does not meet again until next year.

Officials adopted the one-and-done rule after a decade of discussions in an attempt to speed up the competition, but it can also reduce interest in the sport.

The men's 100m final was to be the highlight of the Daegu championships, at least to the majority of spectators, but it went off without the sport's biggest draw.

"I don't think anybody was happy to see Usain Bolt disqualified," Hardy said of the 100 and 200m world record holder and Olympic champion. "He is by far and away the biggest name in our sport. We need him. But rules are rules, and rules are for everyone."

Lord Sebastian Coe, the London 2012 Olympics chief and IAAF vice-president, agreed.

"These things happen," he said. "When they do, there are clear rules to be followed. We don't play fast and loose with them simply because you get high-profile DQs [disqualifications]."

Carmelita Jeter, the women's 100m winner, said she had no problem with the regulation.

"It's a rule. And like any rule you have to abide by it," Jeter said.

Jason Richardson, the new world 110m hurdles champion, from the United States, said he would not be opposed to a return to the old rule, by which the first false start was charged against the field and the second eliminated the offending party.

Richardson was awarded victory after world record holder Dayron Robles was disqualified for tangling with China's Liu Xiang over the closing hurdles.

The race could have been re-run but officials decided to reject Robles's appeal.

"I understand everybody wants the big players to run the big times and get the big medals so everybody cries fouls and wants re-runs," Richardson said.

"But that is pretty much why we have those rules." Richardson had simple advice for athletes wanting to avoid a repeat of the situations that cost two of the sport's biggest names the chance to win world titles. "Stay in your lane and wait for the gun," he said.