Athletics fans were not able to watch their star Usain Bolt in the final of the World Athletics Championships 100m sprint. The Olympic gold medalist and world record holder was disqualified after false starting. In new rules which came into play in January 1 2010, a false start means automatic disqualification. Previous to that, after one false start a warning was given to all runners, then the next person to break was out. And before that, the long standing rule was that each runner was allowed to break early once. The false start rules needed to be changed as the athletes began to purposely break to put off other runners, and watching a 100m sprint final became a joke with ongoing restarts.
There are calls for the rules to be changed – but to what? Return to what did not work before? I have been to many track meets and had to sit around watching the sprinters (I was one myself) ply their gamesmanship. Bolt actually backed the rule introduction last year, so he can’t complain. Athletics meets will be better to watch under the current rules, and maybe we just have to put up with occasionally missing seeing a champion race. Rules don’t suddenly need revision just because a high-profile athlete has fallen foul. The rule makers need to be consistent, and the athletes need to play by the rules and accept them.