A Rudderless Ship: USATF Overrules Itself, Disqualifies Gabe Grunewald by Jon Gugala

This piece was edited by the editor, on Sunday, February 23, 2014. Change is in bold. 

In a stunning overruling of its own ruling, USATF has disqualified the now former USA Indoors 3000-meter champion Gabe Grunewald of Brooks Running and Team USA Minnesota.

Grunewald and fourth-place finisher Jordan Hasay made contact in the bell lap of the championship race. The field official raised the yellow flag indicating contact, Grunewald's agent Paul Doyle says, but the head official decided that it was not grounds for disqualification and awarded Grunewald her first national title.

Gabe Grunewald wins the 3,000 meters, photo by PhotoRun.net

After the race, Nike Oregon Project's Alberto Salazar, coach of Hasay and runner-up Shannon Rowbury, filed a protest. According to Team USA Minnesota coach Dennis Barker and Doyle, that protest was overruled by the same head official that made the initial ruling on the track. The AlSal/Nike camp then appealed the ruling to a three-person USATF committee, which also ruled in Grunewald's favor.

And that's where the issue should have remained.

Instead, Barker says, there was "intense pressure" around the officials' table, describing Nike employees as "hovering," and according to Doyle, 20 minutes later, after the final ruling was made, the ruling was opened again.

Barker says that according to USATF rules, once the complaint has been denied and the appeal fails, that's the end of it unless new information is presented. From what he could tell, USATF simply reviewed the same tape it had already seen twice.

Grunewald was DQ'd, Barker and Doyle confirm. USATF has not issued a statement, and multiple attempts to contact them have not been answered.

Barker filed his appeal on Grunewald's behalf, which failed, and then appealed to the committee (which had just ruled in his favor), which also failed.

As it stands, Grunewald has been disqualified, and Barker says Rowbury and Hasay are now being tapped for the national team. This has not been confirmed, and USATF has not yet released the national team names.

But meanwhile, there is a veritable shitstorm on Twitter comprised of both fans and athletes as they voice their displeasure for Salazar, Nike, and USATF.

In the meantime, Doyle says the next step is to inform USATF that if Grunewald is not reinstated, on Monday he will file a section nine arbitration petition.
Meanwhile, Jesse Williams, Brooks Running Sports Marketing Manager, tweeted, "I can tell you this . . . [Grunewald] will receive her bonus for being Indoor National 3k Champion."

"This is a girl that beat cancer twice and has just made her first team, won her first national title, and it's being taken away from her," Doyle says. "We just won't stand for it. It's not the right decision, so we're going to fight it to the end."

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