Drama in The Women’s Steeplechase Prelims: Colleen Quigley Gets DQ’d

by LetsRun.com
August 9, 2017

LONDON –  The women’s steeplechase at the 2017 IAAF World Championship got underway tonight and there was a little bit of drama.

The drama came in the first heat. The heat was extremely tactical (9:39 winning time) and with only the top three finishers qualifying automatically on time (and next 6 fastest times out of the 3 heats) only the top three would move on. In the sprint for home, the initial three auto qualifiers were 2015 medallist Gesa Krause of Germany, Olympic finalist Colleen Quigley of the US and Olympic silver medallist Hyvin Kiyeng of Kenya. Finishing outside the top 3 was Ethiopia’s Sofia Assefa. Assefa, the 2012 Olympic silver medallist who was the 5th fastest woman in the world this year at 9:07.06, was just sixth across the line.

However, shortly after the race was over and before heat #2 even started, Quigley was disqualified for stepping on the line after the fifth water jump. Yesterday in the men’s steeplechase final, after a French protest, the officials determined that Evan Jager had also stepped on the same line but he was not DQ’d as they said he stepped on a straight portion of the line and had not gained a material advantage. In this case, the officials claimed Quigley stepped on a curved portion of the line (which results in a DQ unless you are pushed or forced inside) and gained a material advantage and thus she’ll miss out of the final. Looking at replays, it appears Quigley actually stepped on the line twice, once when it was straight (which is ok as long as no ‘material advantage’ is gained) and then once when it was curved.

A few tweets for you to look at:

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The IAAF Rule on Lane Infringement
3. (a) in all races run in lanes, each athlete shall keep within his
allocated lane from start to finish. this shall also apply to any
portion of a race run in lanes.
(b) in all races (or any part of races) not run in lanes, an athlete
running on a bend, on the outer half of the track as per Rule
162.10, or on any curved part of the diversion from the track
for the steeplechase water jump, shall not step or run on or
inside the kerb or line marking the applicable border (the
inside of the track, the outer half of the track, or any curved
part of the diversion from the track for the steeplechase water
except as stated in Rule 163.4, if the Referee is satisfied, on the
report of a Judge or umpire or otherwise, that an athlete has
infringed this Rule, he shall be disqualified.
4. An athlete shall not be disqualified if he
(a) is pushed or forced by another person to step or run outside
his lane or on or inside the kerb or line marking the applicable
border, or
(b) steps or runs outside his lane in the straight, any straight part of
the diversion from the track for the steeplechase water jump or
outside the outer line of his lane on the bend,
with no material advantage thereby being gained and no other
athlete being jostled or obstructed so as to impede his progress.

The beneficiary of Quigley’s DQ was Kenya’s Purity Kirui, the 11th fastest entrant and 2010 world junior champ, who moved up from a non-qualifying fourth to third.

The other heats went pretty much according to form. Ten women came into worlds having run under 9:20 this year and all of them except for Assefa will be in Friday’s final.

In heat 2, Paris winner Beatrice Chepkoech won in 9:19.03 and was followed closely by world record holder Ruth Jebet as America’s Courtney Frerichs, who also made the Olympic final last year, took the third auto qualifier in 9:25.14.

In the third heat, world leader Celliphine Chespol of Kenya got the win as she and American Emma Coburn, the bronze medallist in Rio last year, and Australia’s Genevieve LaCaze all ran 9:27 to auto qualify.

Quick Thought: The IAAF needs to change the rulebook or use a rail during the steeple

Ezekiel Kemboi‘s DQ last year was absurd. Same thing here. Quigley stepping on the line didn’t impact the race. The IAAF rulebook doesn’t allow for common sense, however. It says if you touch the line on a curve, you are out unless you were forced inside (like Mo Farah). Given how political shenanigans have impacted international sport over the years, we understand why the IAAF wants to leave ambiguity in its rules but DQs like these in the steeple are unsporting. The contact rule is similar – should someone really be DQ’d for impeding someone at the start of a 10k?

If the IAAF doesn’t want people stepping on the line, they need to build a rail as it’s natural for the people on the outside to cut in. Think about how an inside water jump is set up. It’s straight and then turns sharply to the left so people in front on the outside naturally will come in and cut off people on the inside. People on the inside like Quigley or Kemboi only step on the line when they are cut off by other making a hard left.

So it seems reasonable that Quigley could claim she was a)  forced inside by the way laws of geomerty and the way the race is run, which is what Stephanie Bruce is arguing in her tweet above and b) she didn’t gain a material advantage (although to be honest, we don’t know though why the USATF tweet references material advantage as that has nothing to do with an infraction on a turn).We think it’s fair to argue 1/8th of an inch in the middle of a nearly 2-mile prelim isn’t a material advantage.

Note, for a while, we were wondering despite the photos above, if it was 100% certain if Quigley actually stepped on the line on the curve as it’s so close it could have been a shadow. So we enhanced the video and ran it in slo-mo and it’s clear she did step on the line as shown here:

Quigley did stop in the mixed zone, but only briefly. David Monti of Race Results Weekly felt it was appropriate to inform Quigley of her DQ before conducting an interview (we agree) and once she found out from Monti, a shocked Quigley exited the mixed zone in an attempt to remedy the situation.

Update on 8/10/2017: It apperas the cones were put in the wrong place. See this article: A lifeline for Colleen Quigley? London World Champ organizers put cone out in violation of IAAF rules

Quick Take: The call-room officials tried to nullify the advantage of being in the third heat, and Emma Coburn wasn’t happy about it

One of the benefits of being in the third heat — particularly in a race where there are three auto qualifiers per heat and six time qualifiers — is that you know what time you have to hit to make the final.

Tonight, however, Coburn was running blind as the call room officials would not allow her to watch the other heats, claiming it was an unfair advantage. While they achieved their aim with regard to Coburn, that’s moronic behavior on the officials’ part as a coach in the stands could easily yell out what times the athletes needed to run even if they didn’t see it themselves.

“That’s the point of being in the third heat, that’s the rule of the sport,” Coburn said. “It’s not “cheating” to do that.”

Fortunately for Coburn, she had no problems advancing through to Friday’s final. And even though she medaled last year in Rio, she knows that the event is a lot stronger in 2017.

“The steeplechase really changed the last 18 months and I don’t feel like I have a guaranteed spot anywhere on that podium just because of that bronze medal,” Coburn said.

With so many women close to 9:00 this year, Coburn is expecting a fast final — she pointed out Beatrice Chepkoech in particular, who just ran 8:28 in Monaco for a flat 3,000 — as someone in excellent shape right now. Coburn’s PR is 9:07 from this year’s Olympic final, which means it will take the race of her life to earn another medal. But considering she already ran 9:07 at Pre back in May, Coburn could be ready to run the race of her life on Friday.

Quick Take: After a slight adjustment period, Courtney Frerichs is better than ever and ready to run fast in her first World Championship final

Frerichs didn’t want to spend extra energy tonight if she didn’t have to, so she let Ruth Jebet and Beatrice Chepkoech go in her heat, focusing on securing the third automatic spot instead. That’s exactly what she did, and though she’s not a medal threat in the final, she’s in a good spot to meet her personal goals (top 10, PR).

Frerichs was 11th in last year’s Olympics, but she’s a much different runner than she was in Rio. For starters, Frerichs had just finished up college and was just happy to be in the final. This year, as a professional, she is intent upon improving her place from a year ago. In addition, Frerichs is training at a higher level in her first year under Jerry Schumacher and Pascal Dobert. Compared to many of her new Bowerman Track Club teammates, Frerichs was undertrained in college, which led to a rough transition last fall. But after adjusting to the intensity of Schumacher’s workouts, Frerichs has seen a lot of success and after running a PR of 9:19 at Pre, she thinks she can go even faster — perhaps as low as 9:10 — in what should be a quick final in London.

Results appear below. Talk about the action on our messageboard:


Heat 1

1 3942 Gesa Felicitas KRAUSE GERGER 9:39.86 Q
2 4079 Hyvin Kiyeng JEPKEMOI KENKEN 9:39.89 Q
3 4083 Purity Cherotich KIRUI KENKEN 9:40.53 Q
4 4109 Fadwa SIDI MADANE MARMAR 9:40.61
5 3838 Sofia ASSEFA ETHETH 9:40.88
7 3860 Maeva DANOIS FRAFRA 9:49.21
8 3721 Alycia BUTTERWORTH CANCAN 9:51.50
9 4304 Mariya SHATALOVA UKRUKR 9:54.21
10 3918 Lennie WAITE GBRGBR 9:54.97
11 3702 Tigest GETENT BRNBRN 9:55.42
12 3806 Lucie SEKANOVÁ CZECZE 10:09.67
13 4243 Charlotta FOUGBERG SWESWE 10:21.21
1000m 3:18.99 Fadwa SIDI MADANE MOROCCO MAR
2000m 6:35.37 Fadwa SIDI MADANE MOROCCO MAR
Heat 2
1 4075 Beatrice CHEPKOECH KENKEN 9:19.03 Q
2 3705 Ruth JEBET BRNBRN 9:19.52 Q
3 4333 Courtney FRERICHS USAUSA 9:25.14 Q
4 4040 Aisha PRAUGHT JAMJAM 9:26.37 q
5 3729 Geneviève LALONDE CANCAN 9:31.81 q SB
6 3844 Birtukan FENTE ETHETH 9:33.99 q SB
7 4272 Özlem KAYA TURTUR 9:37.06 SB
8 3808 Anna Emilie MØLLER DENDEN 9:44.12
9 4248 Maria LARSSON SWESWE 9:48.13
10 3603 Amina BETTICHE ALGALG 9:53.06
11 3628 Victoria MITCHELL AUSAUS 10:00.40
12 3855 Camilla RICHARDSSON FINFIN 10:07.04
13 3832 Teresa URBINA ESPESP 10:21.90
1000m 3:02.05 Beatrice CHEPKOECH KENYA KEN
2000m 6:08.60 Beatrice CHEPKOECH KENYA KEN
Heat 3
1 4077 Celliphine Chepteek CHESPOL KENKEN 9:27.35 Q
2 4324 Emma COBURN USAUSA 9:27.42 Q
3 3624 Genevieve LACAZE AUSAUS 9:27.53 Q SB
4 3710 Winfred Mutile YAVI BRNBRN 9:28.00 q
5 3843 Etenesh DIRO ETHETH 9:31.87 q
6 3611 Belén CASETTA ARGARG 9:35.78 q AR
7 4238 Fabienne SCHLUMPF SUISUI 9:36.08
8 4279 Peruth CHEMUTAI UGAUGA 9:43.04
9 3886 Rosie CLARKE GBRGBR 9:49.36
10 3983 Viktória GYÜRKÉS HUNHUN 9:52.66
11 3718 Maria BERNARD CANCAN 9:59.45
12 4006 Francesca BERTONI ITAITA 10:01.36
13 3827 María José PÉREZ ESPESP 10:01.84
14 4271 Tugba GÜVENC TURTUR 10:13.03
1000m 3:13.50 Peruth CHEMUTAI UGANDA UGA
2000m 6:22.55 Winfred Mutile YAVI BAHRAIN BRN
Kenya Star Celliphine Chespol Ready for Final

Aisha Praught Says She’s at a New Level This Year and Wants to be 6th in Final

Praught said she knows 6th sounds like a weird goal, but she has to be realistic. She’s right. Praught probably isn’t beating Coburn, Chepkoech, Jebet, Kiyeng or Chespol, but she could definitely beat everyone else in the final.

Genevie LaCaze Felt Great to Auto Qualify for Final


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