Friday, August 10, 2012

Perdita Felicien Victim of Arbitrary I.A.A.F.Rule-Making

     Canadian track fans and Perdita Felician herself were both wronged when Ms. Felecian was banned from participating in the 2012 Olympics on account of one false start during the recent Canadian qualifying meet.  Ms. Felician who is clearly the most talented and accomplished female hurdler in Canada was awarded a false start during the Olympic qualifying event earlier this year.  In order to qualify for Canada's national team Ms. Felicien required a minimum third place in the qualifying race.  She ran the race under protest of the false start.  She came in third but on account of the false start she was disqualified and consequently not eligible to represent Canada at the London Olympics.

    I understand and appreciate the necessity for rules and regulations.  No one - including myself - would argue against the need for rules and regulations with respect to the governance of sports like track and field.  However, rules and regulations that make no sense and are arbitrary and oppressive have no place in sport or any other endeavor for that matter.  False starts in events like the event that Ms. Felicien was involved in are clearly a regular and normal occurence for which one ought not to be punished unless it can be shown objectively that the act was deliberate.

     A single involuntary or inadvertent act is not something that sports regulators  or decision makers ought to use as a basis to deny an athlete from participating in the Olympics.  How such a rule was passed and has yet to be challenged is something I find most disturbing.  Of course the I.A.A.F. and its supporters will point to the fact that none other than The World's Fastest Man - Usain Bolt has endorsed the rule.  However, I am not impressed by this.  The rule is arbitrary and oppressive on its face.  Inadvertence should never be the basis for disqualification.  Under the predecessor rule a warning was provided to the field and any subsequent false start resulted in disqualification.  I see the logic in that rule.  I fail to see any logic in this "new and improved" rule.  I just do not.  I am most curious to know whether or not Athletics Canada's hands were tied on account of this "disqualification".  If they were not so bound then they failed Perdita Felicien and Canadian track and field fans.

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