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Proposed IAAF rule changes

Bob Boman explains the proposed IAAF race walk rule changes, and Dan Pierce, USATF Racewalk Chairman, responds how the proposed rules affect race walking in the USA.

IAAF Report
April 2001
From Bob Bowan, IAAF Race Walking Committee

Every four years the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF), the international governing body for athletics (track & field, long distance running & race walking) makes what they feel are necessary technical rule changes. This year (2001) is a technical rules year and the rule governing race walking (IAAF Rule 230) is under revision in a number of areas. Proposed amendments to technical rules must be submitted six months prior to the 2001 IAAF Congress to be held in conjunction with the 2001 IAAF World Championships in Edmonton this coming August. The proposals may only be made by member federations, IAAF Committees, the IAAF Council, Area Councils, or an IAAF Council member. All proposed rule changes to Rule 230 are first reviewed by the IAAF Race Walking Committee. The Committee makes further amendment proposals, combines various proposals, and submits a set of final recommendations to the IAAF Council and Congress. The IAAF Technical Committee follows the same process in making their final recommendations for all the rule proposals. However, they usually support the IAAF Race Walking Committee regarding proposals to Rule 230. The IAAF Congress, composed of delegates from all 210 member federations, makes the final determination as to the new rule amendments. Rarely are the recommendations by the IAAF Race Walking Committee rejected. Under a special emergency provision in the rules, the IAAF Council may approve rule changes that go into effect immediately. This also requires an eventual confirmation by the IAAF Congress. This year's recommended proposals by the IAAF Race Walking Committee include the following significant amendments. The first three listed go into effect immediately having been passed by the IAAF Council at their March 11-13, 2001 meeting under the Emergency provision.

  1. For IAAF Rule 12.1(a) competitions (World Championships, World Cup & Olympic Games), the Chief Judge has the power to disqualify a competitor when his/her mode of progression obviously fails to comply with the definition of race walking, regardless of his/her having received previous warnings. Giving this special power to the Chief Judge is somewhat controversial. However, the risk of allowing competitors, especially at the finish, to not be disqualified for obvious violations of the rules was considered to be a greater danger to the integrity of race walking at the international level than the possible risk of an abuse of such power by the Chief Judge. The appointed Chief Judges at this level are selected because of their past integrity and sound judgement. It was felt that race walking could be in further danger if the rules are not properly enforced at these high profile competitions. This amendment to the rules is designed to help insure this.
  2. In competitions held under IAAF Rule 12.1(a), (b) and (c) [All international competitions including Area events], a deputy Chief Judge may be appointed from the Judging Panel by the Chief Judge to assist with the duties of the Chief Judge, except the special situation noted in (1) above. The deputy Chief Judge shall not act as a judge in IAAF Rule 12.1(a) competitions. This rule is designed to help prevent slow notification of disqualifications, especially in situations similar to the Sydney Olympics where the walk course was located a great distance from the stadium. In these situations, the Chief Judge is unable to cover both the course and the finish route back to the stadium. Late disqualifications are often the result of this situation. The deputy Chief Judge will now be able to handle disqualifications on the course while the Chief Judge covers the finish area, both in a timely manner.
  3. The traditional "white" caution sign (paddle) is changed to a "yellow" sign (paddle). It was felt that yellow is a more appropriate color for caution since it is used as such in other sports such as soccer. I personally felt this was a weak argument in that everyone currently has white paddles that are probably a better contrast to the black symbols than yellow.
  4. Revision of the provision in IAAF Rule 230.4(d) which states that "if it is impractical to inform the competitor of the disqualification during the race, disqualification shall be given immediately after the competitor has finished", by deleting the word "immediately" and replacing it with the words "as soon as practical" and adding the following sentence: "The failure to give prompt notification shall not result in the reinstatement of a disqualified competitor." This amendment is designed to better state what is intended by this provision and to prevent protests by competitors who were given at least three warnings but were not notified of their disqualification during the race or "immediately" after they finished. This was the basis of an unsuccessful protest in the Men's 20Km Walk in the Sydney Olympics. This amendment should also be adopted at all national (USATF) rule levels.
  5. Specifying that a Warning Posting Board shall be placed not only on the walk course but also near the finish. This is especially critical for competitions that are held outside the stadium but finish in the stadium. (6) A provision has been added that gives notice to the fact that any disqualified competitor who fails to leave the course or track may be liable to further disciplinary action in accordance with IAAF Rule 53.1(viii). Even though un sporting behavior is covered in IAAF Rule 145, it was considered appropriate to stress this provision in Rule 230 because of the occasional problem of walkers failing to comply with this rule.
  6. For all IAAF Rule 12.1(a) competitions, hand held computer devices with transmission capability must be used by the judges in communicating all warnings to the Recorder and the Warning Posting Boards. This new rule is proposed pending the reliable and practical demonstration of the appropriate technology. The appropriate technology is apparently available and will be pursued in the near future. This is also the best solution to the type of communication problems that have been experienced in past major international events and most recently in the Sydney Olympics.

All other IAAF Rule 230 proposals are mostly housekeeping changes for clarity, simplification, and to conform to current accepted practice. The most significant ones are the ones listed above. They are mostly aimed at improving race walking at the international level, but some could affect race walking at all levels of the sport. Therefore, they should also be considered as amendments to national (USATF) rules.

Bob Bowman
IAAF Race Walking Committee

Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2001 16:56:32 -0600
From: "Dan Pierce" <>
Subject: RE: IAAF Report

In an effort to keep confusion over the proposed IAAF Race Walk rule changes minimized I'd like to say a few things.

  1. The changes are still proposed rule changes. They won't be finalized until August. There are three emergency changes, but they only affect a few international races.
  2. Predicting what the IAAF will do is almost impossible. The IAAF is very unpredictable. They may pass all the proposed changes as written or they may do 1000 other things.
  3. We haven't seen the actual wording of the proposals that will be presented in August. We only know some of the basic concepts of what is proposed.
  4. Just because the IAAF makes some rule changes doesn't mean the United States will automatically do the same. There are already some differences between IAAF and USATF rules. In the US the Chief Judge always judges, this is not true in some IAAF competitions. USATF will make any changes to domestic rules in December and they won't take effect until January of 2002. Each member federation (country) deals with IAAF rule changes in their own way.

Discussion is what this list is all about, but discussion based on speculation about some interpretation of some potential rules may not be too valuable. Does anyone have or know how to get the exact wording of what is being proposed to the IAAF Council? We can talk about the rules changes all we want, but unless we get messages to our IAAF representatives and Council members whatever we say on this list will have no effect.

Until the IAAF Council meets in August we will be talking about proposed rule changes. In the US we will not change our judging until next January. In the mean time, ask questions, learn what's going on, but don't panic and think you need to make a change for next weekend's race.

Dan Pierce
USATF Race Walk Chair

This page was last updated Thursday, April 12, 2001.
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