Sport

False-start rule a tough call, Anderson admits

BY SANJAY MYERS Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, March 20, 2012    

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THE International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) false-start rule is "difficult" on competitors, according to first vice-president of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), Don Anderson.

Anderson, who addressed the Monday Exchange of reporters and editors at the offices of the Observer, said that though the controversial regulation has been agreed upon by the relevant stakeholders, there is room for it to be exploited.

"I believe that if you establish a procedure and you establish a regulation that you should abide by it. Athletes and officials generally around the world, agreed that one false start would be the basis for disqualification.

"My personal opinion is that it (the false-start rule) is difficult to accept because there is a school of thought that if you have in any event, say three athletes from a particular country and one doesn't have a good chance of winning, then that athlete could upset the whole process," he said yesterday, suggesting that an athlete could deliberately false start and affect the psyche of others in the event.

Since January 2010, the world governing body for athletics has adopted a zero-tolerance stance at high-level meets so that sprinters who leave the starting blocks before the sound of the gun, are immediately disqualified.

The rules, before then, stated that after such a violation was committed, all participants were warned and any subsequent false start by any athlete, or athletes, then led to disqualification.

However, the new false-start regulation is said to drastically improve time management at elite athletic championships and is more accomodating to electronic media coverage of meets.

Several high-profile athletes have been undermined by the zero-tolerance law, but none of those quite grabbed the headlines as in the case of Olympic 100m champion and triple world record-holder Usain Bolt, who was sensationally disqualified for the breach last year at the IAAF World Athletic Championships in Daegu, South Korea.

The athletics world was stunned into sheer disbelief as the Jamaican, the massively overwhelming favourite to defend his title, false-started in the final of the flagship event.

His compatriot Yohan Blake comfortably won the 100m title.

While many have called on the IAAF to revert to the previous rule, Anderson said Bolt has not voiced a problem with it and hinted that athletes will just have to adhere to the guideline.

"...The premier track and field athlete in the world today said before the unfortunate Daegu elimination that he had no problem with that... everybody knows exactly what the regulation is," he said.

After an impressive 11-medal haul at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in China, Jamaica is primed again to feature prominently at this summer's championships in London, England.

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