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False start rule vindicated

Monday 24 October 2011

It is most unlikely that the IAAF will change the false start rule despite the controversy over Usain Bolt's disqualification in Daegu. This is because the number of false starts at the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu, Korea (27 Aug to 4 Sep) declined dramatically when compared to the average for the three global championships that took place immediately before the introduction of the current rule.

The current False Start Rule  states that  “Except in Combined Events, any athlete responsible for a False Start shall be disqualified” It was introduced in 2009 and took effect from 1st January 2010, for the benefit of athlete and spectator alike, in order to reduce the time taken to get races underway; a clear cut system which also reduced the possibility of gamesmanship by competitors.

Daegu 2011 was the first senior outdoor IAAF World Championships at which the new False Start Rule was applicable, and the debates of 2009 were reignited very publically on Sunday 28 August when at 20:43hrs the world’s fastest man and defending World champion Usain Bolt was disqualified from the 100m final for false starting.

Throughout the IAAF’s position has remained clear, that a sport’s credibility depends on its rules, and they must be applied consistently and fairly for ALL athletes. As President Diack reiterated to Reuters news agency in Daegu there was “no chance” of a change; “I work for this rule. I like very much this rule, I vote for having this rule”.

Furthermore, comparison between Daegu and the three previous global championships before the Rule was changed clearly shows it to be working. The average number of false starts in the two IAAF World Championships (2007 and 2009), and the Olympic Games (2008) before the Rule changed was 28, while the total number of False Starts in Daegu 2011 was 10.

WCH 2007, Osaka      OG 2008, Beijing    WCH 2009, Berlin  
Men  18                        Men  26                     Men  18  
Women  8                    Women  7                 Women  7  
TOTAL  26                   TOTAL 33                 TOTAL 25

Average in the World Championships 2007, 2009 and the Olympic Games 2008: 28

WCH 2011, Daegu
Men  6
Women 4
TOTAL  10