Mon, Mar 23, 2009 - Page 19 News List

Track proposal may expel runners for first false starts


False starters in sprints face immediate exclusion from the race under a proposal by the world governing body of track and field.

Currently one false start is allowed, but another means the automatic exclusion of the guilty sprinter, regardless of who caused the first false start. The new rule would mean an immediate expulsion for any offender.

“Many athletes were playing mind games with the others, but under the new rule that would not be possible,” Jorge Salcedo, head of the technical commission of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), said on Saturday.

The IAAF Council, meeting this weekend, gave its support to the proposal, which will now go to the IAAF congress before the World Championship in Berlin in August. If ratified, it would become effective next year.

“The rule is supported by the council,” its general secretary Pierre Weiss said. “The final decision has to be made by the congress.”

The current rule allowing one false start has been in force since 2003. Before, a sprinter would be disqualified only after two false starts, which sometimes led to long delays that were unappealing to live TV coverage.

Under other proposals, the decathlon and heptathlon would end with a pursuit race in the men’s 1,500m and the women’s 800m.

The starting order of the final race would be staggered to reflect the difference in points and the first across the line would be the winner of the entire two-day event. Until now, points had to be calculated according to the times before the overall winner was known.

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