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Why Bolt shock could be good for London

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David Bond | 19:48 UK time, Sunday, 28 August 2011

Usain Bolt's dramatic disqualification from the 100 metres final will place the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) under intense pressure to reconsider its one false start rule.

When the governing body finally introduced the law last year - plans to bring it in in 2005 had been thrown out by IAAF president Lamine Diack - there were many critics who felt it was simply too harsh.

Had Dwain Chambers and Christine Ohuruogu been the only athletes to fall foul of the rule, then the IAAF would have probably moved on quietly. But when your gold-plated, number one global superstar is denied the chance to produce the sort of exploits athletics so desperately needs to grab the world's attention, then that's another matter altogether.

These championships were already struggling to get the profile they deserve and once enjoyed (holding them every two years is actually the biggest self-inflicted handicap). Remarkably, local organisers failed to sell out the Daegu Stadium for the night of the mens 100m final even though they had already reduced its capacity from 68,000 to 45,000.

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But while some will accuse the IAAF of shooting itself in the foot for introducing them in the first place, changing their rules on the back of Bolt's disqualification would be a disastrous overreaction.

Sport needs to have unpredictability of outcome and few can deny that Sunday's action delivered that. Sport also needs clear sets of rules, which, whatever they are, need to be the same for everyone - whether you are Usain Bolt or a young Jamaican sprinter competing in the national schools championships that helped hone his talent.

And while Daegu and IAAF officials might be feeling the heat here, Lord Coe, chairman of London 2012, watching from his IAAF vice president's seat, might have allowed himself a small, private smile.

Bolt was already the biggest draw at an Olympic athletics meeting that will be sold out. Who on earth wouldn't want to see him try to atone for his Daegu error in London?


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  • Comment number 1.

    Everyone one wants to see the 100m final anyway, it was one of, if not the most over subscribed event for 2012. But what people want is competition. Bolt, Gay, Blake all going toe to toe for the crown. Ironically, the new rules should have been to Bolts advantage since for him to lose someone needs to get a flyer from the blocks, which is now far more risky (and Usains start is a weakness).

    There was nothing wrong with the previous rule of one false start and then people go out, but when the marquee event is damaged like yesterday, no one agrees with the rule, athletes nor fans then people feel slightly cheated.

  • Comment number 2.

    Either allow the field unlimited false starts or go with the sudden death rule. There's no point giving the field X amount of false starts, eventually we must get to the point where we say "enough is enough". Why not simply start there?

  • Comment number 3.

    It was his own fault. He knew the rules. whether they are harsh or not (they are harsh) he knew what would happen. And it was ridiculous. he is the fastest man in the world and doesn't need a blistering start to win! he would win if he had been sat on the blocks when the gun went off. so really it was his own stupidity!

  • Comment number 4.

    Ohuruogu said the same, she feels she is the worst starter in the field so she jumped the gun. silly rule but you're right, they did know.

  • Comment number 5.

    Yes they know the rules, but it's too harsh - think of the pressure and the extraneous noises, it's understandable - and look what happened to Chambers, he didn't even move off the blocks, just a flinch and he was gone. Imagine that happening at the Olympics, how cheated the spectators would feel not seeing the best man run, it's just officious. 'Mistrust all those in whom the urge to punish is strong' [Goethe].

  • Comment number 6.

    The current rules are bad for athletics - firstly, imagine training for the years required to get to the Olympic or World finals, and then losing out because you twitch or false start. Second, the worldwide audience is deprived of the spectacle. I cannot think of another sport where such a harsh penalty is imposed because of such a technical misdeed - imagine a football match which concludes because of an offside; a rugby match that concludes because of a forward pass. At 2012, where the 100m final ticket is so expensive, how angry would you be if the race you spent so much to watch was lessened because of this rule.

  • Comment number 7.

    Completely agree with #6, think of the premium which the organisers of London 2012 have been able to charge because of punters wanting to see the fastest man on earth. Yes, he could be injured for next year but that is another matter, yesterday must have seen thousands of paying customers very angry. Face up to it when you are charging huge prices for tickets you are in the entertainment industry.

  • Comment number 8.

    Two points: Changing to the two false start system will only generate more controversy, at 2012 let's say Powell offends first and is given another chance and then Bolt offends and is DQd, then Powell wins...pretty sure everyone will be up in arms. Secondly the current rule has proven itself in the pool where there are now no false's exactly the same thing. The immediate DQ is by far the best system...same for everyone, easy to understand, easy to implement.

  • Comment number 9.

    Linford Christie always started on the 'B' of the starter guns 'bang'. All they need to do is go on the 'G'! Same for everyone. Don't see what the problem is.

  • Comment number 10.

    The rules is there to ensure a fair race. But there is there a difference between starting fractionally early and twitching on the blocks... Any movement is penalised though not all movement is beneficial to the time.

    It appears to me that the technology is a little sensitive at times and the starter can hold the racers for too long adding to the problem. Debate should not be about Bolt, rather whether the systems are appropriate to the sport.

  • Comment number 11.

    his own fault. the rules are clear. giving people a chance to get it wrong, before going to sudden death, is supremely illogical. if athletes try to gain an unfair advantage by going too soon, they're gone; simple as that. it's fair, it's clear, it's workable. the fact it was the number one star of the games who was disqualified should make no difference. it's his responbility.

  • Comment number 12.

    The new athletics rule is the same as the swimming false start rule has been for 10 years. It might be harsh, but it also stops athletes playing mind games. There are plenty of instances where people in both sports previously have deliberately false started to put competitors on edge. Bolt beat himself unfortunately - as Tom Fordyce's very good blog states. Its not as though the runner's haven't had the opportunity to practise with the situation.

    And most athletes have had a DQ for a false start at some time in their career - just unfortunately, not all of us do it in a World Championship final!

  • Comment number 13.

    "Yes, he could be injured for next year but that is another matter, yesterday must have seen thousands of paying customers very angry"

    And therefore he must run? Why not give him a bye from having to qualify in case he doesn't make the final - heaven knows that happens in enough sports? In fact we could go down the WWF route and have the whole race scripted to ensure maximum entertainment. Sport is unpredictable. That's what makes it interesting.

    Have we forgotten what it was like under the old rules? There regularly used to be three, four false starts before the race started. How was that fair on the competitors who didn't false start? It was essentially a licence for the slow starters to try and cheat (which is what false starting is after all), knowing that they got could get caught once without consequence, and for the experienced runners to unsettle the competition by false starting.

    The rule is fine as it is. It shouldn't change just because one athlete - no matter how good - broke it.

  • Comment number 14.

    This rule is all about the money that TV brings and the need to stick to their schedules! The previous rule whereby athletes were given one chance was more sensible but this is ridiculous! It has also been noted that the less experienced starters used at these games are holding athletes too long in the "set" position!!!

  • Comment number 15.

    The only way to false start is to anticipate the gun. Anticipating the gun is cheating. False start (cheat) and you are out, works in swimming because after ten years, swimmers have learned that it is not worth cheating. Athletes will also learn this very quickly. Losing a star like Usain will only speed up this process.

  • Comment number 16.

    I'm sure Bolt's a a big enough man to accept that he made the mistake and has to pay the price.

    I think it's obvious that he didn't make a false start in order to win the race. Despite what he says about winning championships being the "be all and end all" he was trying to win it in style, to get another amazing time and give the crowd something special. He and everyone knows he doesn't need the best start to win the race.

  • Comment number 17.

    In my opinion it's a terrible rule. People pay £750 a ticket because they want to see records broken and history made! Although this final was perhaps historical, it will be remembered for all the wrong reasons! 9.92 is 1/3 of a second slower than the time of the previous world championship gold! It's ridiculous to think that people will be paying £750, expecting greatness, and having to settle for a relatively mediocre time just because the Olympic committee want a little ' excitement' and 'unpredictability'! If you ask people who watched both the Berlin and daegu 100m finals, they will all undoubtedly say that the Berlin final was a greater spectacle...rather than an event which was of a lower standard than a diamond league meeting! This doesnt just ruin the 100m, but all 'sprint' events! You want to see the best athletes, get the best times and that isn't going to happen with disqualifications coming instantly to those who are trying to push their limits and break world records.

  • Comment number 18.

    The new 'one start' rule must stay, its the best thing for the sport its competitors and for entertainment. Is it harsh?....some may say yes, but if the sport is to move forward then no. These are meant to be the best athletes in the world, they can run 9.5 seconds for 100 metres but they can't react to a starting gun??

    Im a coach in swimming and we used to have a two start rule for each swimmer, which just gave opportunity for each swimmer to play mind games at least once, and especially if a particular swimmer knew one of the others had a great start and would waste energy in doing so. As in the 50m freestyle in swimming, the start for a 100m sprint in athletics is everything.

    I agree with a point made already..a false start is cheating and if an athlete knows the rules and has a made a mistake then he or she is not the best in the world at that time. Once the race has started 100m sprinters must get the drive out from the blocks perfect, the technique perfect, breathing pattern perfect and the duck in finish perfect...they get once chance to get that right or risk being why not give them one chance to get the start right. It happened in swimming with Ian Thorpe and much the same in swimming after these high profile false starts, people will learn...its a great rule..must stay.

  • Comment number 19.

    I think there are distinct points to be made. Firstly, was it right that Bolt be disqualified ? Absolutely, as that is what the rule states. Secondly, is the false-start rule currently the best rule for the sport ? That I'm not so sure about.

    It appears the 'One false-start and your out' rule was brought in to appease the TV schedulers, who have ads breaks to run, and who cannot be hanging around for 5 minutes waiting for athletes to sort it out before they can fill our eyes with more commercials for stuff we don't really need.
    I can see no benefit to the athletes, and many current athletes seem to be of the opinion the rule is doing them harm.
    Well, if the organisers really want to speed the proceedings up, why not only allow the field athletes one foul ? One chance ? Knock the high-jump bar off on your first attempt ... that's your games over. Sorry !!
    It seems a little like that's the approach they've adopted in the track events ?

    I wonder about the impact on world records in the shorter distances, where hundredths of a second count ?

    I wonder how many people switched over once Bolt had been disqualified; their interest instantly gone ( thus reducing the audience for those advertisements ) ?

    I wonder how many people in the crowd ( for a games that hardly seems over attended ) felt a little bit robbed ?

    On the flip-side, I laughed when I read the IAAF were going to take another look at the rule. Once Bolt had been DQ'd I kinda knew they wouldn't just sit back and do nothing ... oh, a hundred 'ordinary' athletes could fall foul of the same rule and they'd shrug and say 'that's the rules', but when it happens to their golden goose ...

    And that's not a slight on Bolt, whom I admire greatly, more a comment on what motivates the power-that-be.

  • Comment number 20.

    It should be a warning on one false start and then out on the next. These athletes are fired up on adrenaline and nervous energy when they are in the blocks and the slightest flicker or wobble on the electronic blocks (Chambers) will see them disqualified, never mind actually leaving the blocks. Far too harsh as it is.

  • Comment number 21.

    They are professionals, they know the rules... black & white. Break this incredibly simple & basic rule & you fail & rightly disqualified. It works in swimming & they undergo the same regimes & training.

  • Comment number 22.

    Two things: The rule was altered due the complaints from TV, go back a few years and the commentators were, talking about, this is ridiculous, the time for a rule change, ... televised meetings don't like some starters as there hold can promote false starts, making a mockery of their schedules.

    Dwain went due to his feet moving on the blocks not going forward, the false start equipment picked this up, but was it really a false start, is the technology right?

  • Comment number 23.

    There is a difference between a false start - leaving the blocks before the gun - and a twitch. I know that some athletes used to twitch ad a way of setting off other runners and causing THEM to false start. If a twitch does not trigger another runner to leave the blocks, then the starter should be able to let the race proceed or call a faulty start. To equate an involuntary movement with cheating is absurd. It might be an idea to mark false starters and let them run under protest. Then a decision can be made, not under the pressure of schedules, after the race. A sort of equivalent to horse racing's "steward's enquiry". It might delay the result but not the race.

  • Comment number 24.

    Rule is harsh but a rule that hands the advantage to people seeking to gain an unfair one is harsh as well. I think the fairest compromise would be to move false starters back a few metres (the amount would vary by event, for 100m probably between 2m and 5m).

    I assume Bolt is in the 200m this week. The pressure is on now but as long as he wins that he will be able to put this behind him. It will be interesting to see if he tones down his arrogance on the start line. It was also interesting to see his poor reaction to his team mate's victory.

    From a media perspective, a Bolt false start was a bigger story than his win and there is no doubt that this makes the 100m final at the Olympics more interesting. I thought the same thing at once.

  • Comment number 25.

    After Bolt openly taunted the other competitors, showed complete respect, then being disqualified through his own stupidity was absolutely fantastic TV.

    Made even better by his childish tantrum afterwards.

    Please keep the false start rule. Better viewing than any race where he wins hands down!!!

  • Comment number 26.

    We are human and we make mistakes. This new false start rule does not account for that and is ridiculous. I feel we are now all focusing on the rulebook rather than the Athletics which is so wrong for the sport.
    Please change these rules. I am willing to sign a petition before this destroys the Olympics for London 2012.

  • Comment number 27.

    I don't understand why they dont have a computer generated countdown that is the same every time. 3... 2... 1... BANG

    Nobody would false start then and if they did it's their own fault. Immediate DQ.

  • Comment number 28.

    Isn't it enough that rule is applied with uniformity. Its another matter it needed change, even before the King of athletics became a victim. Change it in order to make commonsense.

  • Comment number 29.

    People seem to forgetting the absurd pantomimes that resulted from the previous rule. One after the other each athlete would use up their "lives" and races were being restarted up to half a dozen times. Top class athletes, quite rightly, know how to play the rules to the limit. Sprint starts were degenerating into farce; the rule was necessary and the athletes will learn to live with it.

  • Comment number 30.

    This rule is very outrageous. I said it when it happened to Christine and even worse with Chambers, who did not move out of the block. Could the IAAF/IOC not learn from FIFA who manage the most watched sport on Earth who had to change their long standing rule to allow for cancellation of yellow cards so teams could have players for the final game?
    Like football, The IAAF/IOC should realise that fans are the most important people, and if we the fans do not like what we see we will tune off. For an organisation that is just recovering from all the drug scandals which turned fans away, only to be re-ignited by Usain Bolt, they really should have a serious rethink of this rule. We the fans want to see the best compete in a fair manner. There was nothing absolutely wrong with the old rule of allowing one false start. These athletes prepare so hard for years to give us this spectacle, they deserve a fair ruling. The psychological tension any athlete experiences in these competitions is beyond reasonable doubt very high. They are human beings like the rest of us, not machines.
    The IAAF/IOC had better revert to the old rule before the Olympics. o they might just see a revolt never seen before in an athletics meet, which will be a big shame. We the humans (fans) have a limit for restraint especially after paying so much money for tickets. Nobody wants to see football style riot anywhere, more or less an athletics meet. As said a word is enough for the wise, revert to the old rule

  • Comment number 31.

    technically, of the 8 starters, there is a possibility that 7 athletes false start at the same time,what will hapen in this scenario? or in the first false start 2 athletes false start thus they are disqualified, and the next untill six are out then one of the remaining two false starts leavin only one who then false starts(leaves the blocks before the gun),!!! the rule is like a weed,a plant whose economic disadvantages outweigh its advantages and of course inthe wrong place at the wrong time

  • Comment number 32.

    We all wanted to see Usain Bolt run. What a huge disappointment to disqualify him for a simple error. He doesn't just want to win, these guy's are pushing the boundaries of what's possible & false starts under the present system are inevitable. Can we not come up with a system where false starts are impossible? I know it would seem strange but when did you last see a false start on a dog track or in a horse race. Are starting traps the answer? They would do the job.

  • Comment number 33.

    Whilst the start is technically part of an atheletes training, this rule is somewhat overbearing--since swimming has no 10 second event or even a 20 second event, you cannot compare the two.
    Imagine the situation if all transgressions were one strike and you're out, the prisons would be full.............oh yes---they already are!

  • Comment number 34.

    There is already enough technologhy at most, certainly top class athletics meetings to allow everyone to start and be timed to the 1000th of a second. Each runner can be timed from the exact moment the left the blocks to the ecact 100th ot
    r 1000th they crossed the line. If for instance lane 2 "false" started and finished 1st in 9.99, and lane 5 clean started finished 3rd but ran 9.85 they would win.
    It's very similar to the suggestion about running under protest. We used to emply a similar system during training sessions and some of my fastest (modest) times came like this, rather than organised gun starts.

  • Comment number 35.

    We can see that this rule is controversial and will always divide opinion, however one factor that is very important as a competitor has not been mentioned and that is the noise generated by the spectators. In all the swimming competitons I have seen the crowd is very respectful and gives the swimmers total silence whilst they are on the blocks, this obviously aids the concentration of the swimmer and the starter can do his work much more easily. In the athletics stadium the noise must be very distracting and cause the athletes lots of problems as they concentrate on listening for the gun, hence the twitches and false starts. For this reason I believe the current rule unfair, but if spectators could guarantee total silence for the start of each event then I would have no problems.

  • Comment number 36.

    I thought the "One strike for the field, then next to false start is out" rule was harsh so this is even worse. I doubt Bolt would have broken his world record, but this over the top 1 strike rule definitely cost him, and fans a chance to see what kind of form he is in.
    A couple of false starts isn't going to ruin the race but removing the world record holder certainly does.

  • Comment number 37.

    It really is simple. Swimmers have been subject to a one start rule for some time and very few are DQ'd for moving at or before the start. At this level of competition it is very easy to say that because a "high profile" competitor gets caught then the rule must be wrong. Read Dwain Chamber's comments - he had the grace to accept he had made a mistake. Leave the rule as it is or we will soon be back to the situation where there are up to 6 or 8 attempts to get a race going - or even worse - just like tennis where you get to have all sorts of excuses for being rubbish until you finally get it right. Stop moaning, accept that Bolt and company were wrong and move on. If anything, I would (as a swimming referee and starter) suggest that the start procedure needs to be tweaked a little further to cut out the time delay between "set" and signal. As soon as everyone rises and is still, the gun should go. This is how we do it in the pool it works and allows swimmers to go whilst there is still a potential energy store in their legs. Thought again from swimming, No Recall. Just DQ anyone taking a flyer at the end of the race. It does work (sadly even in a 1500 metre swim as I have seen in the past)

  • Comment number 38.

    At the end of the day fans want to see the best athletes in action & if an athlete is disqualified for one mistake then the fans will feel cheated. Surely something like it was, a warning for one false start & then you're out if you do it again, is the best way forward. Does anyone really want the same thing to happen in the London Olympics next year? Maybe 2 or 3 of the worlds best athletes not even reaching the final because of this draconian rule?

  • Comment number 39.

    The current version of the rule is, and always has been, stupid. Anyone who says otherwise has never raced a sprint out of blocks. I said it before it was brought in and I say it now.

    If the TV show gets delayed by a few minutes then, so what?

    As for the excuse that athletes were taking intentional false starts to upset each other. that is just nonsense. Any false start is going to upset yourself far more than the athletes around you, even if you know it is coming. And this was never an issue under the original rule anyway as the person taing the false start was only putting themselves at risk.

  • Comment number 40.

    It's not difficult is it? False starting is cheating, plain and simple. "Pressure" is no excuse, these people are at the top of their game and should be able to cope with pressure.

  • Comment number 41.

    27. At 09:14 29th Aug 2011, UptheArsenal wrote:
    I don't understand why they dont have a computer generated countdown that is the same every time. 3... 2... 1... BANG

    Nobody would false start then and if they did it's their own fault. Immediate DQ.


  • Comment number 42.

    alphanicholas - There was actually the issue at the Commonwealth games last year in Delhi, where the female Aussie hurdler was DQ'd even though she was second out of the blocks. Laura Turner (I think, if memory serves me correctly) was first up, and the Aussie was within 1/100ths of a second of her, comfortably under the false start limit and was therefore disqualified too. There were issues with this initially though because the IAAF didnt really see that one coming and weren't entirely sure what to do with it.

    Adrian C - I dont think that the relatively small change in time makes any difference. The top swimmers swim 50Free in little over 22 seconds, 50Fly in little over 23. That is only marginally slower than a women's 200 track race, so that cant possibly be an arguement. Equally, Christine Ohuruogo false started in a race that takes longer than the top swimmers would swim 100Free or 100Fly. Very occasionally you see false starts over 800 or longer. The length of time an event takes means nothing in this arguement, when the event can be won by as small an amount as 1/1000th of a second. An advantage is an advantage, no matter what, and that is why there is a rule in place.

    Finally, the idea that the athletes should be allowed a bit of grace/leeway with regards to a faulty start to entertain the crowds is lunacy. If an athlete makes a mistake in the race pacewise, or stumbles or some such, they can't ask to do it again to make it better. It is the unpredictability of human nature and how the body responds under intense stress that is the entertainment. Unfortunately Blake, Dix and Collins - and the other 4 finalists, are forgotten about here because the fastest man in the world made a cock up. That in itself is entertainment and will hopefully help Bolt on the 200 and into next year. But shouldn't detract from other fantastic performances.

  • Comment number 43.

    I totally agree with no. 10, there is a significant difference between a twitch of the foot and actually moving out of the blocks. The rule does need looking at, it is something that I have felt was harsh even before this games, it is just a shame that it has taken sigh a high profile athlete to false start before it has been raised for debate. As far as I can see there was nothing wrong with the original, an athlete can have 1 false start but is DQd on the second, the only problem was the length it took to start some races, but to me this just always built up the drama and tension. However, I don't think that the IAAF will back-track as they cannot look to be changing the rules purely because their biggest star false started (which is quite right), what I would hope is that perhaps they will be able to implement some way of altering the rules so a twitch in the blocks would not result in disqualification, which would mean that bolt would still have be DQd but hopefully there would be fewer false starts for a movement which in fact gives the athlete no advantage.
    As for Bolt, I hope that he comes back faster and better next season!

  • Comment number 44.

    Granty555 - the reason they dont have a standardised countdown is because it is the slight randomness that allows for the start to change. If the countdown was the same everytime, athletes would train to start after a period in the blocks as opposed to a starting signal, taking away the reaction element of the race

  • Comment number 45.

    Why do we not put sprinters in starting cages, like horses or greyhounds? Anyone who touches the cage is disqualified. It will be easier to see and believe on TV than the present system which relies on an electronic "gun" and sensor pads on the blocks, with all the potential there is for loose cables or bad connectors.

  • Comment number 46.

    The current rule seems a little harsh.
    In these days of electronic timing I fail to see why an adjustment to an athlete's time cannot be made to compensate for a slight jumping or delay at the starting gun. What we are interested in is the competition - if you disqualify too many on the first false start the competition looses. What we would like to see is the actual time it takes to cover 100M etc . By adjustment of the time up or down even a slow starter may well be quicker than you think.
    This suggestion will only work for electronically timed events - others should use the old rules of a warning followed by disqualification.

  • Comment number 47.

    To his credit Bolt has not complained about the rule, but simply said he has to move on. That is called setting an example. What a shame more professional sportspeople
    don't take the same attitude. The rules aren't just about the individuals taking part, but about all of us and the way we act in certain situations. Umpires and refs often get things wrong; true sportspeople accept that's the way it is and move on.

  • Comment number 48.

    The argument that this is sport and not showbusiness is absurd. If that is the case, don't charge people for tickets to watch these events. Sport is entertainment and without the fans and spectators these races would be run without stadiums, without support and without money. The success of the sport is determined by demand to see it and follow it. To ignore the effect on fans' enjoyment based on that bizarre elitist principle is absurd.
    Humans are not perfect and no matter how much a person may train at something, they cannot be expected to be perfect, especially under the conditions of races like these. It seems to me that those setting the rules have a lack of empathy towards those they are regulating. The comparison with the off-side rule in football is perfect—players aren't punished for running offside, if they were they wouldn't attempt it and we would be denied great goals that rely on pushing those limits.
    If you want to enforce such ignorant rules, find a sport that no one else cares about, otherwise, take off your blinkers and pay some attention to whats around you.

  • Comment number 49.

    "a false start is cheating"

    A lot of people have expressed the opinion above, however, they seem to have overlooked one blindingly obvious point. The fact that we have seen several false start disqualifications PROVES that at least some really are accidental - i.e. they are NOT CHEATING. In order to disagree with this, you must believe that the athletes concerned wanted to be disqualified and therefore false-started deliberately.

    An ACCIDENTAL false start is NOT CHEATING.

    A more sensible system would be to apply a time penalty for a false start. For instance, if sprinters are given a 0.1 second penalty (equivalent to just over 1 metre) then they are not likely to deliberately false start. This would also ensure that viewers get to see the race they want to see.

  • Comment number 50.

    Just because the technology is available doesn't mean the rules of the sport should be changed to accommodate it. The IAAF would have done better spending the cost of developing this technology on catching drug cheats and allowing the viewing public the opportunity to see the worlds best athletes perform.

    A fine would be a far better option, or something like the yellow card system in Football where you collect enough yellow cards and you are suspended, getting 'sent off' for a first offence is just plain madness, it's one dimensional thinking gone mad and if it continues will be a big turn off for TV audiences. Viewers watch to see runners run, not to be manhandled off the track by an official.

  • Comment number 51.

    Let us forget, for now, who it involved & think merely of the sport in general. Otherwise rule changes will be implemented to favour whoever todays "Golden Boy, or Girl" it may be. In my view the rule should stand & the athlete should play by it ~ thus ensuring a level playing field. Whilst on the subject of `having another go`, think of the anomalies

  • Comment number 52.

    I do prefer the old format rule but rules change (look at formula one!) the new rule is harsh in the sense that twitching and any movement is wrong.

    I would say everyone who uses the argument that you cannot unsettle the other atheletes is plain wrong there are two ways to win a race A) beat the clock or B) beat the other racers.

    Its apart of the game to get psych'ed out and if you are unable to handle that then you shouldnt be performing. All the best athelets have a way to dictate their sport and intimidate other ateheles. If you were to say false starts shouldnt be allowed on the grounds it unsettles the other atheletes then what about elbows and pushing in the 5 and 10ks?

  • Comment number 53.

    During a sprint event and in particular the 100m, the pressure to get a good start is of great importance, this in contrast is not the case when you consider middle and long distance events. Should there be a provsion within the rules that acknowledges this? If this is not the case, then why not have jumpers only taking one jump and the throwers doing the same!

  • Comment number 54.

    We would still be having this discussion if there had already been one false start (by someone else) and Bolt had false started at the second attempt! We are not talking about amateurs but well paid professional athletes!
    In any event I fail to see all the fuss over the 100m - the 10,000m was a far more exciting race from start to finish!

  • Comment number 55.

    As an ex sprinter, I cannot describe the frustration of achieving a perfect start in a 100m race which is then halted and the athletes recalled because someone has jumped the gun. The psychological preparation and concentration required for the essential 'good start' is shattered and it is virtually impossible to regain this focus whilst struggling with the injustice of a recall when one has possibly just had the best, entirely legal start of the season. Surely, standards of behaviour should not be set according to their ability to please the crowds!

  • Comment number 56.

    If you keep this rule, why stop the race because of a false start?
    Disqualify all those who false start after the race.

  • Comment number 57.

    Why not introduce starting stalls for the sprint events? Then, any false starts would be self-defeating. Any athlete who tried it would end up with a sore head. Problem solved.

  • Comment number 58.

    I think the old rule was FANTASTIC remember the 100 m race last about 9.90 seconds if you have false starters can only add to the anticipation of the race ,and for those that advocate for the new rule :i can't belive that you would pay £750 and be happy to see the best runner to be out of the race !!!!

  • Comment number 59.

    The rule is fair - the problem is the money. The Olympics is a billion dollar event, and for that money people want to see the best in action. Should Bolt do the same in the final at London, there would be major issues. Athletics is greedy for the cash, it has to live with the associated problems and decide whether fair play or money comes first. It wouldn't be the first time it decided on the latter.

  • Comment number 60.

    One rule has to apply for all.

    Some years ago I saw a television programme on sprint starting techniques, the presenter talked about athlets anticipating the gun, and how this would give them an advantage. I believe from memory the reaction time was around 0.3 seconds, and anyone bettering this was probably jumping the gun.

  • Comment number 61.

    The false start rule is OK. They use it in swimming and once competitors got used to it, there are very few if any false starts. Competitors need to stay on their blocks until they hear the gun, not anticipate when it should go off.

  • Comment number 62.

    The start is an integral part of the race and the athletes need to train for it and need to get it right. It's a tad harsh maybe, but I support the rule. The disappointment and anticlimax of several false starts needs to be eliminated, and this rule will do that. Bolt will race again, and we'll be watching all the more attentively when he does.

  • Comment number 63.

    Above all else, sport is about unpredictability.

    Everyone says what happened to Bolt was bad for the sport. Why ?

    We already know he can run to such a degree that it is not a race ? Is that not total predictability ? Would we have been talking like this if he had simply won the race ? No

    If Man Utd had won 2-1, would people have been talking about yesterdays game with as much gusto as they are today ? No

    Brazil in the 1982 world cup were the dream team, everyone wanted them in the final but the Italians spoilt it. Its called sport, sport is hundrum 90% of the time, its the unpredictability that keeps the interest.

    Become predictable, become boring, become yesterday's news.

  • Comment number 64.

    Athletes and spectators alike seem to forget that a part of any race is REACTION to the start gun - more substantially so the shorter the event. An athletes brain at the start of a race is tuned to react to the first indication of the gun going off. They're listening for a 'b...' and they're away by the time the rest of us have heard 'BANG!!!' On the other hand there is the 'chancer' who the rule is designed to eliminate. Its really going to have to be down to discipline or else there will have to be a physical barrier at the start - dog traps?

  • Comment number 65.

    Virtually all false starts are only detected by sensors on the blocks, therefore advantage gained amounts to less than a second. Rather than disqualify someone, let the race continue and impose a one second penalty on all those who false start. Of course, there will be those who will argue that the first to false start caused the others to false start and should be punished more severely!! Why not have them all wearing blinkers!!!

  • Comment number 66.

    I believe that the immediate disqualification false start rule is just too Draconian. Yes the athletes know the rules, but it does nothing for the event or for the paying public.

    The best alternative is two false starts for the entire field (i.e. three strikes and you're out) and then immediate DQ. At least then all involved are aware of the mounting stakes. You never know, they might actually start first time!

  • Comment number 67.

    People making comparisons with the rule in swimming are missing an important point. In swimming a false start is a very clear cut thing - the swimmer who false starts ends up in the pool. There is therefore no equivalent to the twitching in the blocks which bedevils the sprinters.

  • Comment number 68.

    As one of the many hundreds of thousands who prefer watching the proverbial paint rather than the majority of Athletics events - this change to the rule has just about killed off what little spectacle was left. Would the crowds pay so much to watch Rugby or Soccer if a technicality meant they would be watching the second string players? If things arent broken dont fix em!

  • Comment number 69.

    Oh, and 'false-starting' isn't cheating, or if it is ( and it isn't ) it's the most pointless attempt at cheating. Can anyone remember the last time any championship decision was overturned because, in hindsight, the winner had actually false-started ?

    I guess they are so few and far between because computer technology catches a false-starter as they do it. Nobody wins a medal and then has it stripped because they 'twitched' or left the blocks early.

    Taking drugs and trying to hide the fact is cheating.

    I like the ( already mentioned ) idea of an automated countdown, where the timings between 'marks - set - go' are consistent. I've heard many times a commentator state that the starter is holding the athletes too long, or not long enough.

  • Comment number 70.

    The one false start rule is lunacy, anyone can make a false start as we've just seen, If you allow each athlete one false start then if someone is repeatedly false starting they're out which makes sense, Unlimited false starts allow unscrupulous athletes to unsettle the field by repeatedly false starting then starting correctly at time of their choosing.
    Now we have a world champion who everyone knows is not the fastest and probably wasn't even the fastest on the day.
    Tickets to major athletic events are expensive, the public won't pay if instead of seeing the best compete they end up only seeing the also rans.
    Linford Christie repeatedly said you have to go on the B of the bang. With one false start permitted then if you false started you were penalised, if you didn't want to risk going out then you had to go on the G not the B on the restart. Now everyone will have to go on the G and the slightest slip on the blocks & they won't be going at all.

  • Comment number 71.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 72.

    I think he should have been given a second chance. In fact, it is a stupid rule that stops this.

  • Comment number 73.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 74.

    I saw a snippet of the video where Bolt committed hara kiri as per the recently introduced international controversial rule. Bolt was unfortunate in his prestart and I am sure even his harshest critic would forgive him and wished a restart to the race. This rule is obnoxious and should be revoked in the interest of international sporting events. When disqualified by the referee, Bolt damned himself in real remorse and retired without a complaint or blame-game. I hope the framer of such an unreasonable rule will abrogate it as many sports stalwarts and aficionados consider it a spoilsport.

  • Comment number 75.

    One false start and you are out ... fair enough but I am with the comment @56 Disqualify all false starters after the race ..... do not do a restart.
    This would allow in the event of say a USA v Jamaica Shoot off at the Olympics being messed up by "Team Orders" like F! where the least likely to win false starts to up set the other team (his team mates knowing he is going to do it will not be unsettled)
    It would also allow the crowd to see the contest and have that element of doubt afterwards. Until they look back and see the red above a runners lane....

  • Comment number 76.

    The current False Start rule is fine. Bolt didn't FS during the heats but there is less pressure. A Final is about PRESSURE and the other 7 managed it. If you just want the fastest time, why not do time trials? No? Because you require competition to be at your best, your under pressure to do the best start BUT you got to do it within the rules!!

  • Comment number 77.

    Due to the nature of the 100 and 200 meters being explosive events which need fast reaction times...could not there be a ruling to allow perhaps 1 false start for these events?
    Upwards of these 2 events revert to the normal rules.

  • Comment number 78.

    You are ALL missing the point. This is about money. Do you think Nike, Puma, Asics, and Adidas are just gonna sit by and let this happen again? Do you think sponsors won't turn from a sport where the danger is the biggest stars end up sitting on the sidelines for no good reason? What the hell is the reason anyway...? It was brought in because TV execs hated that races were being held up ridiculous lengths of time and it was destroying advertising schedules!!! All of you who think this will not be changed are naive at best.

  • Comment number 79.

    lets race the 100m individually you start when you are ready all problems solved like they do on other disciplines since is not a team sport?

  • Comment number 80.

    as a none athelete why not just let the race continue then disq any false starters any athelete will now as long as they have a clean start they will be ok and would be bumped up a place or two depending on false starters.
    i beleve this is how f1 works except they get a time fault.

  • Comment number 81.

    The rule was introduced to help prevent schedules slipping and profits being hurt.
    Bring back the Olympic spirit - of which amateurism is a major part and was removed merely because the US doesn’t understand sport can involve loosing at basketball - and we, the fans, would loose nothing but pomp and advertising and we might just get to the see the sport that is being prised from those that created it.

  • Comment number 82.

    Me thinks Bolt bolted to soon! lol

  • Comment number 83.

    Just what has changed, to merit the introduction of the absurd zero tolerance rule into athletics, is a mystery.
    If this is indeed a good idea, then how about other events assuming this same ridiculous concept? In the long-jump for instance, where crossing the front edge of the foul line should henceforth result in immediate disqualification from the event.
    Dumb and dumber!

  • Comment number 84.

    This 1 false start is crazy. I would feel cheated if I went to see 1 or 2 athletes in particular and nerves got the better of them causing a disqualification due to a false start. I would consider my entrance fee to be obtained fraudulently.

  • Comment number 85.

    just to go back to john comment about Italy spoiling the show just becouse a team looks good and stilish doesn't mean that they are the best italy scored four times in that game therefor the best team won .you argument would had made sense if falcao was expelled for a silly think like kicking the ball out of play and italy would have won.but that was NOT the case

  • Comment number 86.


  • Comment number 87.

    Having experienced the ‘track’ myself from my own participation there was only one thing I focused on before leaving the blocks - the starter signal; be that a starter pistol or other audible signal (in my junior days!). I completely ignored any adjacent competitor’s body movement and was never 'tricked' into launching into my drive stage and out of the blocks. Modern starting blocks generate sensor data on the athlete’s reaction and each carry a speaker at the rear of the block so the athlete knows from where the sound should come – but a in a large stadia a noise could be made by someone in the crowd, although it would be fair to say most crowds don’t attract the types that would contemplate and doing something with malicious intent. The Newton block was always going to evolve to this with race times coming down to fractional differences.
    My fear was responding to a false sound, or one I deduced as a starter sound. Understand this – you are effectively a coiled spring, often on fingertips, feet sat deep into the blocks, back arched, muscles tense – and ears listening for one thing. But you are human, and you try to block out any response to an itch, or muscle spasm that may pass for involuntary movement from the blocks – which are even more sensitive these days (and such technology / gadgetry to this day isn’t even used to prove if the ball crosses the goal line in football, even though MUCH more money is at stake in that sport!!). I digress - but the sound you are listening for can seem to take an age – regular fans of track events have seen for themselves how long athletes can be ‘held’ in position. All serious athletes know what’s at stake at this moment, your years of training, diet (watching ALL you consume, even when offered a simple sweet from ANYBODY - as you don’t want a random drug test declaring you’ve a positive result for something banned). One mistake from those blocks and it’s all over – for possibly years. There aren’t many sports that carry such penalties.
    However, although the ‘one false start’ rule has good intentions its execution will compromise the sport. I had no problem with the pre 2003 IAAF rules which I still believe to be fair. If TV wants to dictate their impatience by pressing their scheduling imperatives fine, but a sporting body should be true to the sporting ethos and give the athlete a chance. So yes, it is the case that only when a few more big names fall foul of the current rule, it will be addressed, as without a doubt people take note that this is entertainment. Yes there are those who attempt to cheat, and let’s be frank amongst the athletes it is always known who is up to no good – it’s just left to the authorities to act on the tip-offs often made, but they work at their pace in their own direction (don’t ask). But the audio-visual technology and use of replay will always beat a cheat that tries to be beat the ‘gun’.
    Track and field has far fewer ‘high profile stars’ that bring vital money to the sport, unlike football. Maybe when billionaires starting sponsoring national teams or individual athletes (is that a first?), would there be the slightest change in the finances of track and field. It is slim pickings as it is for audience turn-out at meetings. This episode will inform many a ticket holder and many more prospective ticket purchasers for the 2012 London games that what they intend to buy has a risk of becoming a depleted line-up in the final of their choice. I think quite a few will hold on to their hard earned money and watch it on TV.
    Mr Bond - I think Lord Coe, chairman of London 2012, watching from his IAAF vice president's seat, will have a have a wry smile – that luckily, the 100mtr men’s race is sold out...

  • Comment number 88.

    Bolt's disqualification on what amounts to a technicality has at least brought the "one-false-start-and-you're out" rule to the fore.

    Given the state of any athlete's nerves during what are just about the most stressful moments in his/her career, it is hardly surprising that impulsive twitches are going to manifest themselves when the athlete least wants them. Bolt could have won the event running backwards but even he, with enormous pressure on him, could not control the urge to leave the blocks on the gun. To award the gold to the next-fastest athlete rather defeats the object of any world championship, and makes a mockery of it.

    Very sadly, he wasn't the only loser. The world lost the opportunity to see another remarkable sprint from him, and the present ruling must be re-examined if other high-profile events are not to be the subject of ridicule. Certainly, the world media must not be allowed to dictate the event schedules merely to fit in with Eastenders, Coronation Street, or some other daft soap. If a heat or final is delayed by a couple of minutes by a false start or two, then so be it; at least the winner will rightly be able to claim the gold, and not a gold by default.

  • Comment number 89.

    No-one commented on my suggestion (let's call this "A") of moving the false starter back a few metres. It seems to tick all the boxes: removing the brutal disqualification, equally fair for all athletes too, no possibility for an advantage for people who jump early, limited possibility for people to deliberately go early and disrupt.

    Another suggestion made was to deduct the time unfairly gained at the end. Let's call this "B". This seems to have all the same advantages.

    An advantage for A vs B would be added drama and you know that whoever crosses the line first wins.

    The advantage of B is to remove the issue mentioned previously that athletes who make a great start first time are not then unfairly made to start again.

    B is the purest, fairest solution but A would be more entertaining and better to watch.

    I would be happy with either. Either is better than the current rule or the previously used one.

  • Comment number 90.

    I accuse the IAAF of shooting itself in the foot for introducing this rule in the first place. Changing their rules on the back of Bolt's disqualification would show that they had woken from the stupor under which they introduced it..

    Sport may need to have unpredictability of outcome but if sportsmen and women have so much work torn away unsympathetically because of the tiniest slip, why should anyone want to make the investment in sport? What message does it send to would-be Usain Bolts of the future?

    Make a 1/50 second slip when the race starts and there is 1/50 to make up. Make a 1/50 second slip a moment before it starts, and you're done for. Call that fair? ...Coz I don't!

  • Comment number 91.

    One of the few people not complaining is Bolt himself. I think the media need to get over the fact he was disqualified. The rules are the rules. haven't heard many of the media pundits complaining about the false start rule in Swimming!

  • Comment number 92.

    Excellent for the TV schedules as you say.
    No delays due to the so called "cheating".
    Plenty of time to get the adverts on.

    As already suggested - one shot at the high jump. Must be cheating to put the bar back up and have another go.
    Knock over one hurdle in a steeple chace and it's cheating so DQ please.
    Football matches could start with a goal shoot out, if still a draw then play 30 mins "extra time" and if still a draw then play 90mins.
    The schedules would be magic.
    Oh. don't they just lose 4 points for a miss in snooker - DQ them the first time !!
    F1 racing - in the qualifying why do the slower ones in Q1 and Q2 get to race?
    Only race the top 10 from Q3, in fact you already have lap times which could be awarded the positions without racing.
    That won't effect the BBC so much as Sky have the races from next year - wait to see the advertising revenue drop when a load of folk can't see them.
    Whoops, in danger of getting commercial there and back to the TV schedules.

    What, me be cynical?

    ps Do you pay for these comments?

  • Comment number 93.

    So are we to be treated to another nine months of pointless rubbish like this? "Why [insert latest news story here] could be good/bad for London". I know the BBC has a vested interest in whipping up some excitement about the Olympics but, really, nobody cares.

  • Comment number 94.

    Anticipating the gun ie going after it but faster than you could have reacted to it should not be regarded as cheating. If an athlete has the skill to do that the they should be able to do it. It is only as much of an "unfair" advantage as being able to run faster than your opponents. A lot of false starts are caused by the starters and yet they don't get red carded and sent off.

  • Comment number 95.

    The race should be a test of the athletes' ability to run, not to react quickly to a loud noise!

    Why not just use technology and time each athlete individually within a race? A sort of collective time trial.

  • Comment number 96.

    I think the crux of the matter is the IAAF introducing unjustifiable 'zero tolerance' rules which create mediocre 'supreme technical' rather than talented winners in a sport as important as athletics. Compare the standard of the men's 100m final this year with that of all recent major finals (you would have to go back nearly a decade to get a similar one). I do not think (unlike things such as drugs), that a false start in a sprint makes you a cheat or incompetent - meriting disqualification. Those who have competed before in a large stadium understand the pressures involved and the aberrant noises one can pick up.
    Most people in the stadium (or on television) wanted to determine the fastest man in the world. This did not have to be Bolt and I appreciate that some are more interested in subtle technical expertise. However, most of us had waited for this race all year. We were not waiting to see the bast adapter to novel IAAF rules or the person least prone to human error which is what the champion we have is. Similarly, we have many other avenues of proving excellence in technical expertise but only this one of determining the fastest man.
    In any case, someone better tell the IAAF to think very carefully. I think rules which aim to create the sort of champions the IAAF is aiming for and produce races the audience did not pay for or want to see are not in the interest of the sport.
    Otherwise, athletics will not command the sort of respect or followership of sports like tennis (where recent innovations like hawk-eye are doing the exact opposite i.e. reducing the influence of human error albeit by the umpire). I can't just imagine a change of tennis rules to loss of a point after missing your first serve or a red card after every foul in football - only athletics seems to be heading in that direction. Some other form of penalty for a false start may be more ingenious.
    Nevertheless, the top athletes such as Usain Bolt have got to be a bit more careful and better prepared - the false start was absolutely uneccessary.

  • Comment number 97.

    We may as well have a standing start and see slower times if sprinters are not encouraged to react to the starter as fast as possible. The crowd noise and tension this creates is what makes this the most exciting event in World athletics.

    The new rule has made the 100m less exciting and for that reason it should be rescinded.

  • Comment number 98.

    The false start rule is stupid. It should remembered that the public is paying a lot of money to see the best athletes compete. At the Olympics people are paying up to £725 for a seat expecting to see a great 100 metres, however the false start rule could mean they don't. It isn't just the final that people can false start, so given the heats people could be disqualified on 4 occasions.

  • Comment number 99.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 100.

    Overwhlemingly the posts here are focussed on the simple fact that commercially the consequences of this 'zero tolerance' rule are a pr disaster. Bolt has single handedly revitalised a sport in serious decline. Of course there need to be rules and they need to be consistently applied, but if the consequence of the rule is to disqualify the one genuine superstar in the sport , inevitably, they will be reconsidered, and if the IAAF refuse to change the rule what price the IOC stepping in for the London Olympics? As a long time athlete myself I'm enough of an 'insider' to realise that there are arguments in favour of the current rule, but to the average 'casual' spectator its a nonsense. To return to an earlier post, Ian Thorpe may have been (no pun intended) big in Oz but to the average sports fan (if they knew of him at all) he was just a rather overgrown Aussie with huge feet! Bolt is a global superstar. Like it or not, and I'm ambivalent, thats the commercial reality


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