By now, everyone knows the unthinkable happened.
That is, a major star getting disqualified at a major event like the Olympics or World Championships. Forget about a no-height in the pole vault (**cough cough Sergey Bubka 1992 cough cough**)
And forget about someone else twitching that causes a false start.
Prior to 2003, the rule was a disqualification after 2 false starts. You could have several false starts before the actual race started, which meant delays for both the paid attendance as well as TV viewers.
Then the IAAF changed the rule copying the Swimming rule. First false start charged to the field, then the next false start gets you disqualified.
But in 2010, the rule was changed again copying the NCAA rules. One false start, and then you hit the showers. I am not a great starter so I personally like this rule.
Copying Rugby Seven
I have a better suggestion.
Why not have one set of rules for the prelims and a different one for the final?
Bring back the 2003-2009 rule ONLY for the finals? This gives at least a saving grace in case of a false start?
Rugby 7 playing time rules are different for the prelims and finals. 2 x 7 minutes halves (90 sec half time) for the prelims, 2 x 10 min halves (2 min half time) for the final game.
Most of the time, it’s the athlete’s fault, but sometimes the fault can be blamed to the starter who holds the athletes longer than 1.89 seconds in the SET position. Any hold longer than 2 seconds is too long in my opinion, and if that is the case, the starter should simply say “stand up” and restart the race.
Watch the IAAF make a rule change prior to the London 2012 Olympics.
The Take Home Message
If all the usual suspects showed up, and the old false start rule was applied, you might see the entire field go under 10 seconds. There were 6 sub-10 second finalists 20 years ago at the 1991 Tokyo World Championships, with Carl Lewis winning in 9.86 seconds. (Yohan Blake was the only sub-10 this year with a winning time 9.92 and a -1.4 head wind)
You would figure we have evolved a lot over the past 20 years with faster tracks, better spikes, and better training & supplements?
With Mike Rogers and Steve Mullings out on drug bans, and Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell out on injuries, everyone thought the 100 meters was a guarantee for Usain Bolt. (But is Asafa really hurt?)
But as I warned everyone in the 4×100 meter relays, “Anything Goes”.
When you show up at the starting line, you have to believe you can win or medal, no matter who is running.
Irving Berlin would be so proud.