On the 1st of November 2017, several new or amended IAAF Competition Rules became effective. Below are some amendments which may be of interest to readers because they have been the subject of controversy in recent years.
The rules which will be highlighted are those which: (a) Increase the power of the Referee to overrule the decision of Judges; (b) Allow Judges to reconsider their decisions if they subsequently determine that they were in error; (c) Clarify Assistance to Athletes and the Start Rules; (d) Make major changes in relation to the exchange zone in Relay Races. The change in the exchange zone should significantly reduce the number of disqualifications from exchange violations and may very well see faster relay times. (e) Clarify foul throws in the throwing events.
The new rules also allow for the use of a Video Referee. Unfortunately, we have not yet implemented the Video Referee (R-125) technology procedure in Jamaica which was an existing rule, hopefully this will be implemented at major meets in the near future. The Rules in question are as follows:
Referees (Rule 125.2 and 125.5)
While Rule 125.2 prohibits a Referee from acting as a judge or umpire, it now allows the Referee to both “...take any action or decision according to the Rules based on his own observations...” and “...overrule a decision of a Judge.” Further, Rule 125.5 now allows the Referee to “...remove anyone from the Competition who is acting in an unsporting or improper manner...” or “...who is providing assistance to athletes.”
Judges (Rule 126.2)
Judges are now able to “...reconsider any original decision made by them if it was made in error, provided the new decision is still applicable.” That is, while the decision is still theirs to make. That rule also states that “Alternatively, or if a decision has subsequently been made by a Referee or the Jury of Appeal, they shall refer all available information to the Referee or to the Jury of Appeal.”
Assistance to Athletes (Rule 144.3 and 144.4)
Rule 144.3 now specifically prohibits athletes from “...receiving support from another athlete (other than helping to recover to a standing position) that assists in making forward progression in a race.” An example of a prohibited action would be helping an athlete across the nish line. It is also worth remembering that, while not a new rule, Rule 144.4 allows for “...communication between athletes and their coaches who are not placed in the stands close to the immediate site of each...” and that “...a place in the stands, close to the competition area of each Field Event, should be reserved to the athletes’ coaches.
Protests and Appeals (Rule 146.4)
This rule now makes clear how to deal with protests or appeals regarding false starts. Specifically, if an athlete is “...incorrectly excluded from an event due to a false start...” and the protest or appeal is “...upheld after the completion of the race...” then the rule now states that “...the athlete should be aff0 orded the opportunity to run on his own to record a time in the event and consequently, if applicable, be advanced to a subsequent rounds.” Further, the rule now also states that “No athlete should be advanced to a subsequent round without competing in all rounds unless the Referee or Jury of Appeal determines otherwise in particular circumstances of the case example shortness of time before the next round by the length of the race.” This new sub-rule can also be applied in cases of obstruction (see Rule 163.2).
Starting Blocks (Rule 161.1)
Rule 161.1 has been amended to state that “provided there is no obstruction to any other athlete, the rear part of the frame may extend beyond the outer lane line.” This rule change has been made be facilitate sprinters who are starting on the curve, such as in the 200m and 400m, and in the 4x100m relay.
The Start (Rule 162.7)
In order to clarify the question of what is or is not a rolling start, Rule 162.7 has been amended to state that “...if the Starter determines that prior to receiving the report of the gun an athlete initiated a movement that was not stopped and continued into the commencement of his start, it shall be a false start.”
Relay Races (Rule 170.3)
Perhaps the most significant change with respect to track events is the change in the exchange zone. Specifically, in the 4x100m and the 4x200m relays and for the First and second changes in the Medley Relay, each takeover zone shall be 30m long of which the scratch line is 20m from the start of the zone. For the third change in the Medley Relay and in the 4x400m and longer relays each takeover zone shall be 20m long of which the scratch line is the center. The zones shall start and Finish at the edges of the zone lines nearest the start line in the running direction. For each takeover conducted in lanes a designated of cial shall ensure that the athletes are correctly placed in their takeover zone. As a result of this change there is no longer an acceleration zone and the takeover zone is now expanded to 30m instead of 20m.
Throwing Events (Rule 187.14)
The most significant change with respect to Field events is the note in Rule 187.14 that states that“...it will not be considered a failure if the touch is made without providing any propulsion and occurs during any First rotation at a point completely behind the white line which is drawn outside the circle running, theoretically, through the centre of the circle.” This rule change has been made to simplify the duties of the judges with respect to determining whether or not the foot on which an athlete is turning touched the rim of the circle. However, it now requires the judges to determine whether a touch outside the back half of the circle by any part of the body provides a benefit to the athlete, which is arguably quite di cult to determine.