The Inside Story Of The Andrew Bumbalough DQ: A Case Of Mistaken Identity Or A Near Catastrophe Bigger Than The Grunewald DQ Averted?

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by LetsRun.com and Jon Gugala
February 24, 2014

USATF official results for the men’s 3,000 at the 2014 USA Indoors currently list Andrew Bumbalough, a Nike athlete coached by Jerry Schumacher in Portland, as a DQ for “Interference.”

One small problem. Bumbalough never interfered with Rupp.

Bumbalough has watched the race video several times, replaying the race so he could look for any signs of possible interference as he had no recollection of coming into contact with anyone during the race, let alone Rupp. He couldn’t find it. “I made absolutely no contact with anyone in the field, much less Galen,” said Bumbalough to Jon Gugala.

LetsRun.com has watched the video ourselves a slew of times and can confirm that there is zero contact or anything close to contact between Bumbalough and Rupp throughout the race. From talking to sources, we’ve got a pretty good idea of what happened.

Here is the timeline.

1. Race finishes.

2. A protest is field on behalf of Galen Rupp by Alberto Salazar alleging that he was fouled by Andrew Bumbalough during the race (near the 2k mark).

3. After a review, Bumbalough is disqualified.

4. The Bumbalough/Schumacher camp had left the meet without knowing of the DQ (their is no obligation to tell athletes of DQs), but learned of it on their walk home. They returned to the track and talked to meet referee Bob Podkaminer (race was last race of the night). Podkaminer told them he’d watched a video replay several times and saw Bumbalough intentionally step directly in front of Galen Rupp. (Editor’s note: The previous sentence has been edited since initial publication to reflect the Schumacher camp returned to the track after learning of the DQ instead of learning of it as they exited the track. ). Bumbalough says Schumacher and his assistant Pascal Dobert were told that he “looked over and deliberately stepped out in front of Galen Rupp and made contact at some point, which impeded [Rupp’s] progress illegally.” Since Podkaminer was adamant a foul had occurred, Schumacher and Dobert took his word for it. No official protest was field.

5. People go home and watch the tape and it’s clear that Bumbalough never impeded Rupp.

So what happened?

Well it’s clear as daylight if you watch it. A case of mistaken identity was made.

Ryan Hill, not Andrew Bumbalough, made contact with Galen Rupp just after 2k in the men’s race (although we don’t think we’d DQ someone for it 1k out from the finish).

This is clearly a case of mistaken identity.

Go ahead, we had a gif made of the key part of the race video below (or you can watch the video here at the 5:40 mark)

Ryan Hil, not Andrew Bumbalough, make contact just after 2k

The phantom DQ: Ryan Hill, not Bumbalough, makes contact just after 2k.

What you see above is just after 2k, is Galen Rupp moving up on the outside. Ryan Hill is in second on the rail and senses Rupp is moving up from behind on the outside and as a result, Hill is about to be boxed so he spurts to the outside to protect his position. Contact? Yes. Worthy of a DQ since it was 975 meters from the finish? Debatable (we personally at LRC believe it’s “Absolutely not worthy of a DQ,” but the wording of the rule is awful – more on this topic below). Whether the contact is worthy of a DQ is not really important for Bumbalough since he didn’t even make the contact, although it is important in the grand scheme of things as given the women’s 3k DQ there is a belief that Alberto Salazar has more clout and influence than he should.

One thing is certain, Bumbalough was nowhere near the contact and clearly doesn’t deserve a DQ.

It’s easy to see how the mistake happened. The referee was told there was a foul involving Bumbalough/Rupp near the 2k mark. He goes back and watches the tape, sees contact and disqualifies Bumbalough, failing to realize that the runner making contact was Hill, not Bumbalough.

Bumbalough’s Not Satisfied – Tom Ratcliffe Has Asked USATF For An Explanation

Bumbalough isn’t satisfied. A DQ is not the same as eighth place, though he says he didn’t want either going into the weekend. “The principle of the matter is important,” he says, and he’s thankful others, including teammate Shalane Flanagan, have been so vocal about the situation on social media, pushing for a more conclusive answer.

“I don’t feel like I did anything wrong,” he says. “I shouldn’t be disqualified for something I didn’t do. I earned my eighth-place finish, and if it were in a more important situation – say an Outdoor Championships on a World year, or the Olympic Trials, or something where more was at stake for me – then that would be a huge travesty.”

“If that’s the case (it was mistaken identity), then that’s pretty poor officiating.” Bumbalough says. “If they’re mistaking the runner out on the track with ‘enhanced video evidence,'” said Bumbalough referencing USATF’s official statement on the disqualification of Gabe Grunewald, “I feel like that is pretty unacceptable, especially at this elite level.”

Bumbalough’s agent, Tom Ratcliffe of KIMbia, has contacted USATF for a statement as to why his client was disqualified.

“I have been in touch with Jim Estes at USATF and he has passed on our request for a review to Max Siegel, but no word yet. It’s clear they made a mistake, so I assume they’ll address (it),” wrote Ratcliffe in an email yesterday. Today at noon, Ratcliffe texted that he’s been playing phone tag wtih USATF’s General Counsel/Chief of Business Affairs Norman Wain but they’ve yet to speak to each other.

Quick Take #1: How does this happen?

Well it started with Salazar getting the identity of the runner making contact with Rupp wrong. Some insiders believe that Salazar has been fixated on Bumbalough since he out-leaned Rupp in the 5,000 prelims at the 2012 US Olympic Trials.

Quick Take #2: Imagine the uproar if Hill had beaten Rupp in this race but then had been DQed after the race was over. People would be going bonkers, saying “Wait a minute. Rupp missed qualifying for Worlds but got put on the team because Hill was DQed for impeding him 1,000 meters from the finish?” The uproar about that one would be larger than the one for Grunewald.

Had there not have been a case of mistaken identity, the question here would have been, “Should Hill have been DQed for his move?”

Hill’s move was aggressive, but he was about to be boxed in. To us, that’s just smart, aggressive racing. Not worthy of a DQ. If the names were reversed, do you think Rupp would have been DQed?

Speaking of aggressive racing, watch the first 30 seconds of this clip, no DQs occurred in one of the most famous races in Olympic history where there was way more blatant contact in the final 400 of a race (messageboard thread on that clip here). Similarly, 2012 Olympic champion Taoufik Makhloufi twice used his hands to get in a good position before the bell at the 2012 Olympic 1500 with no DQ resulting.

Quick Take #3: The Bumbalough/Hill DQ is debatable because the wording of the disqualification rule right now is just awful. The rule book needs to be changed in terms of what type of contact results in a DQ as ambiguity leads people believing the stars get special treatment whether it’s actually true or not. 

The IAAF rule book currently just says if a runner is “jostled or obstructed during an event so as to impede his progress” then the other runner “shall be liable to disqualification”. There is nothing else in the IAAF rule book about it (the NCAA rule has a little more).

“Shall be liable” – what the hell does that mean? It’s a very awkward phrase. We read that as to mean that discretion is allowed but normally people either say “may be disqualified” if they want to allow discretion and “shall be disqualified” if they want no discretion.

If you jostle and impede someone in the first lap of 10,000 because there are 25 people in the race, should that result in a DQ? The rule book doesn’t say.

If you read the NFL rule book for pass interference, there is a ton of explanation for the intent behind the rule. For example, pass interference on an uncatchable ball isn’t a penalty.

The track and field rules have nothing about intent/impact.

Like in the NFL, we think track and field’s rules should have explanations. Maybe something like, “Minor contact or significant contact that has no material impact on the race shouldn’t result in a DQ. The goal is for the race to be decided on the track. If there are questions as to whether contact is minor or had no material impact on the race, the ruling shall be no disqualification. The farther out from the finish, the more egregious the contact needs to be for DQ.”

That type of explanation would absolve Hill (happened at 1k mark – no impact on race) and Grunewald this weekend (minor contact).

Full rules on contact are as follows.
IAAF Rule book on DQing a runner for illegal contact:

If an athlete is jostled or obstructed during an event so as to impede his progress, then: (b) if another athlete is found by the Referee to be responsible for the jostling or obstruction, such athlete (or his team) shall be liable to disqualification from that event.

NCAA rule book on DQing a runner for illegal contact: ARTICLE 3. The referee, after consulting with the appropriate officials, shall disqualify a competitor who:
a. Jostles, cuts across or obstructs another competitor so as to impede the other runner’s progress. Direct contact is not necessary; any action that causes another runner to break stride or lose momentum is grounds for disqualification;
b. Veers to the right or to the left so as to impede a challenging runner or forces the challenging runner to run a greater distance;
d. Tries to force a way between two leading runners and makes direct contact so as to impede the progress of either;

Quick Take #4: From a legal standpoint, we don’t necessarily think the results should be changed.

If for a DQ to be reversed, a formal protest must be filed within 30 minutes of the DQ, then it shouldn’t be changed now because a formal protest was never filed. If there is someway within USATF’s rules to allow it, then by all means reverse it. We’re currently working on a story examining whether USATF’s re-instatement of Gabe Grunewald was legal or not (we’ve been told that action by itself was a violation of USATF’s own rules) and feel it’s crucial that protocol actually be followed as a lack of protocol is what causes controversy after controversy at seemingly each and every USATF meet.

Discussion: *Challenge: Post Examples of DQs for Actions Similar to Grunewald and Ryan Hill
*Imagine for a moment that Hill had beaten Rupp and then been DQd for bumping him 1k from the finish -