2019 Yokohama Diary: Disqualifications (lots of them), how to deal with them in the modern era...


There is little less satisfying for a track fan, than disqualifications. There were enough in Yokohama to give one a bitter aftertaste. And, it hurts the sport. Stuart Weir has a novel idea on how to announce the medal winners.

I like it.

Machel Cedenio TRI men 4x400 World Relays - Roger Sedres.jpgMachel Cedeno anchored TTO to a win over USA (Paul Dedewo), then USA DQed for a lane violation, photo by Roger Sedres, for IAAF


There were several races at the 2019 World Relays where a team finished first and then, perhaps, minutes later was disqualified, meaning that a team might be photographed as winners, be allowed to celebrate as winners before being DQed. The new "winners" may only find out that they are champions after they have walked off the arena. Normally the announcement to spectators and the information on the scoreboard only states the fact of the disqualification but does not give any explanation. The media sheets state that it was under rule 162.2(b), 163.3 (a) or 170.6(c) on the assumption that everyone has memorised the entire rule book.

At the European Indoors in 2013 men's 4 by 4, Great Britain finished first and Poland second. The teams were announced as gold and silver medallists. Then it was announced that a British runner had stepped off the track so Poland were winners and Britain disqualified. Then the judges ruled that a British runner had indeed stepped off the track but only because he had been pushed by a Pole. Cue re-instatement for GB and disqualification for Poland. All in space of five minutes.

In the 2016 Olympics GB were disqualified when an official decided that a runner had stepped out ofhis lane. The runner did not believe that he had. An appeal was lodged but no footage could be found that supported or disproved the official's view. Many of us felt that before depriving athletes of their chance to compete for an Olympic medal, there must be some evidence beyond what one human official thought he had seen.

We have got to do better than that. Perhaps Track and field has to learn from the management of soccer's Video Assistant Referee when the crowd is informed that an incident is being reviewed by TV officials and the game is delayed until the decision is made, with the big screen sometimes showing fans the film on which the decision is based.

I believe quite simply that our sport has to change and keep up with the expectations of modern society. Results should not be announced until the officials are satisfied that a winner can be announced. If there is an issue to be clarified spectators should be informed of the issue and process. Ideally the TV footage in support of the decision should be shown.

That would be better for athletes, spectators and officials!

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