UK Athletics And USATF Vow Never Again To Send Male Teams To IAAF World Cross-Country Championships

By LetsRun.com
April 1, 2010

London, England - In a shocking development that very well may kill off the World Cross-Country Championships, both the head of UK Athletics and USA Track and Field announced that never again would their countries send male teams to the event.

"The fact of the matter is this is a day and age of limited resources.  Since there is no chance we'll ever win a medal again on the men’s side at World Cross-Country, we've both made the painful decision to stop sending teams and athletes to the World Cross-Country Championships," USATF head Doug Logan said at a joint UK/USA press conference early Thursday morning about a rule that would start in 2013. "In the US, this decision was made in conjunction with the USOC, who provides us with a lot of funding. They've determined that not sending a team for one year will save us enough money to fund two obscure sports medalling projects where they see a lot of potential for medals in 2016."

When asked what sports the money would be used to support, Logan was a bit evasive. "I don't really know. Some obscure sport that no one really cares about but does it really matter? A medal is a medal. It's all about medals, medals, medals."

The departure of both Great Britain and US from the World Cross-Country Championships may very well kill off the event. In recent years, sponsor interest in the event had waned as the lack of Westerners competing near the front killed off nearly all Western interest in the event. As a result, the event is currently scheduled to become a once every two year affair starting in 2013 but insiders are saying that yesterday's development may result in the IAAF ultimately canceling the 2013 race.

One IAAF source who wished to remain anonymous said, "I would say it's greater than 50-50 that we cancel 2013. We already were losing around $500,000 per year on the event. It would be way cheaper for us to just cancel the event and send Kenya and Ethiopia a check for $200,000 each. They'd be happy. We'd be happy and only the old-time World XC fans would be upset."

During the question and answer period, it became clear that the US and Great Britain ban on male competition at the World Cross-Country Championships is not absolute. Both countries have both agreed not to send full male teams to the championships as there is no hope for a team medal. But both countries have inserted an amendment into their bans on male participation at the World Cross-Country Championships that would allow for limited individual participation.

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"Both countries have agreed to an amendment that allows for individual participation in the championships by individuals that were born in East Africa," said UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee, referring to a rule that is being referred to as the Mo Farah Rule in Great Britain and the Bernard Lagat, Meb Keflezighi, Abdi Abdirahman Rule in America. "The rule's actual wording is that you have to have been born in East Africa or both of your parents must have been born there."

When notified by a reporter that the amendment wouldn't allow for the participation of Dathan Ritzenhein, who won an individual bronze medal in the junior competition in 2001, Logan was unmoved. "We're focused on winning at the professional ranks and a white face hasn't medalled since 1989 when Tim Hutchings got the silver for the Great Britain in 1989, unless you count Portugal's Paulo Guerra, who got a bronze in 1999 when the race was watered down with the short course. In the last 21 years, the US and UK have easily wasted well a million dollars on the men's competition and received zero medals in return."

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