World Athletics 2011: IAAF will wait on false-start rule

By Martin GoughBBC Sport in Daegu

The governing body of athletics will not make any changes to the false start rule at the end of the World Championships in Daegu.

The rule - which sees any athlete making a false start disqualified - led to world record holder Usain Bolt missing the 100m final.

Bolt's exit led to talk that the IAAF could amend the rule.

But a senior IAAF source has told the BBC that the rule will not be discussed in a meeting on Sunday.

IAAF vice-president Bob Hersh had earlier stated that no action should be taken until further talks.

He said: "It would be a mistake to quickly reverse the decision."

Any changes could be made in time for next year's Olympics in London.

"It's not on any current agenda but I wouldn't be surprised if it were reviewed," Hersh told BBC sports editor David Bond.

"We will have to go back and talk to our stakeholders and discuss further."

Hersh also pointed out that Bolt, the 100m world record-holder and the reigning Olympic 100m and 200m champion, had backed the new rule when it was proposed in 2009.external-link

The IAAF could discuss amending the zero-tolerance rule when it meets on Sunday.

IAAF director of communications Nick Davies added: "The council has the power to change rules and meets two or three times a year, the next being here on Sunday. There's no doubt it will be on the table."

Bolt was attempting to defend the title he won in Berlin in 2009 and was clearly upset at being disqualified.

But many veteran observers agree with the false-start rule, which was amended in 2010 to automatically disqualify anyone moving before the gun.

Former world 1500m champion and veteran commentator Steve Cram said: "It's almost unbelievable. Usain Bolt had it all there before him and he false-starts.

"He knows the rules. There's nothing wrong with the false-start rule, people have got used to it and accept it and actually it's there to help people like him.

"Having this rule of no twitching, one and you're out, stops people messing around."

Davies added: "Of course we're very disappointed Usain Bolt false-started but the rules are the rules, they're the same for every athlete and we have to be fair and apply them to every athlete.

"Usain will be back to run again and I think he would be first to admit he did false start and that's the way it goes."

Until 2001, every athlete had the right to one false start before risking disqualification, with the demands of television a major factor in the change.

Under the second version of the rule, athletes had the right to make one false start and they were disqualified for a subsequent false start.

But that brought the risk of what Davies called "a bit of gamesmanship", with slower athletes looking to exploit rivals with the potential to take a false start and put the rest of the field under pressure, hence a further change for 2010.

The World Championships have already seen high-profile false-start disqualifications for British duo Christine Ohuruogu and Dwain Chambers.

London 2012 chief Lord Coe, an IAAF vice-president, said: "The issue is very simple for me. You have to be consistent. You have a rule and you don't suddenly revisit it because a high-profile athlete has fallen foul.

"I'd rather not have Usain false start in London. But the start's not separate from the race; it is part of the race. It's not a technical nicety. It's part of the sport like a knockout punch in boxing.

"You pay to watch a title fight in Vegas knowing that a fighter might get knocked down in the first round."

Davies accepted that the rule risks a repeat at the London 2012 Olympics.

But he said: "It's not showbusiness. We're not here to make one star performer perform; it's a sport and everyone has to play by the rules."

World 100m silver medallist Walter Dix, who finished behind Jamaican Yohan Blake, said: "That false-start [rule] is killing us. Hopefully it will change by London [2012 Olympics]."

Bronze medallist Kim Collins of Saint Kitts also wants the rule modified. "At least give the field one false-start," Collins said.