/ 4 September 2011

No change to false start rule, insists IAAF

The false start rule will not be changed, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) insisted on Sunday, despite the furore that surrounded the disqualification of sprint star Usain Bolt from the world 100m final.

The world’s fastest man had barely left the track after his astonishing false start before a debate swirled over the controversial rule.

A packed stadium was stunned into silence in the seconds after the preening sprint star shot too early from his blocks one week ago.

The Jamaican defending world champion and world record holder was a victim of a rule in effect since January 1 2010 meaning immediate disqualification for a false start.

It was seen as a way to prevent gamesmanship from potentially slower sprinters looking to unsettle their rivals and to enable organisers to stick more closely to TV-dependent schedules.

No changes
And IAAF president Lamine Diack was in no mood for discussion on the subject at a press conference marking the end of the August 27 to September 4 world championships in Daegu, South Korea.

“You should not have any illusions, we will not go back on the issue again,” the Senegalese said.

“I am one of those who defend the idea that the rule should be kept. It’s not because it’s Bolt that we should change the rules.

“In the past any athlete could have a false start. We did not adopt the rule for television but for the credibility of our sport.

“Some athletes voluntarily did false starts and they remained in the race. We have to stop such mistakes.

“Even Bolt, he said ‘I made a false start’, he said it was his mistake. It will not change our rule. The false start rule is disqualification.”

After a week of rumours that IAAF council members would ask for the rule to be changed, Diack insisted that there had been no such demands at Sunday’s IAAF council meeting.

“Nobody asked for that,” Diack said bluntly of a possible rule amendment in time for the London Olympics next year.

Bolt’s disqualification in the 100m shook up his rivals but after a delay of a few minutes team-mate Yohan Blake held his nerve for the restart and powered to victory in 9.92 seconds.

Bolt then rebounded, albeit with slow reaction times out of the blocks, to retain his 200m title in 19.40 seconds, the fourth fastest time ever run over the distance. — AFP