A Shot In The Foot Of Athletics: False Start Faux Pas

Usain Bolt. Dwayne Chambers. Christine Ohuruogu. All victims of the ‘one false start equals a red card rule‘ during the World Athletics Championships this weekend.

It’s the rules, and of course all of the athletes are fully aware of the implications of a premature burst off the blocks, but seriously, who loses here? Let us remember that the ‘false start rule’ was originally changed to a ‘one strike and you’re out’ system as TV broadcasters felt that the previous yellow card warning system was taking up too much time.

Obviously in Chambers case, the biggest loser is the athlete himself – he is unable to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games due to a drug ban and is unlikely to still be competitive for the next World Championships – but in the cases of Bolt and Ohurugu, their absence from their respective event finals is also a huge blow to the sport. For many people, the only time they deliberately set out to watch athletics are the major track finals. On the TV. Eliminating Usain Bolt from events where there is a real possibility he might break his already absurd world record time over 100m is only going to make people switch off.

Somewhat defeating their purpose.

Image: OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images.

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