April 1, 2018
Update: This piece was an April Fools’ joke if you didn’t know.
After almost eight months of intense scrutiny, the IAAF announced today that Great Britain’s Mo Farah has been disqualified from the men’s 10,000-meter final at the 2017 World Championships in London. Farah was disqualified under IAAF Rule 163.3(b), which states that:
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 163.5(b), 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 jump).
“It is quite clear that in this case, the athlete in question stepped inside the rail on the first turn of the final lap and was not forced to do so by any other competitor,” said Darren Jones, the IAAF replay official at the 2017 World Championships. “The only recourse in that situation is to disqualify the athlete.”
The relevant portion of the race is highlighted in the clip below (set to start at 3:30):
Farah, of course, won the race in 26:49.51 to earn his 10th global title. Three weeks later, he retired from racing on the track in order to focus on the marathon. But with Farah’s disqualification, the gold medal now goes to Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei, with Kenya’s Paul Tanui and Bedan Karoki elevated to silver and bronze, respectively.
The obvious question is why it took so long to announce Farah’s disqualification. Jones defended his process and said that the timing of the announcement had nothing to do with the recent spate of DQs at last month’s World Indoor Championships in Birmingham.
“You think this is related to Birmingham?” Jones said. “Look, this isn’t like the Gabe Grunewald fiasco from a few years ago when USATF trotted out some BS about ‘new conclusive evidence.’ I’ve spent 12 hours a day over the last eight months trying to figure out whether Farah was clipped by Tanui or not. I missed Christmas dinner because of this! On Tuesday night, I was watching the clip while brushing my teeth, as I do every night, and it hit me: Farah wasn’t touched. That’s a DQ.”
Jones said he estimated that he has watched the clip at least 10,000 times over the past eight months and that he has developed an artistic appreciation for it.
“It is really quite beautiful to witness an entire stadium singularly focused on one race, one man,” Jones said. “The collective focus, determination, and, ultimately, euphoria, is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Also, if you pause the video at the 3:40 mark, you can see a man in the third row of the stands picking his nose and eating it.”
IAAF President Seb Coe heralded the DQ of Farah, saying it was indicative of track and field becoming “innovative, braver, and more creative” and appealing to a new generation of fans.
“The current generation cares first and foremost about getting things right. Instant replay and coach’s challenges in the NFL and MLB, VAR in football (soccer), those represent the future of where sport is going. This is athletics’ version of instant replay review. Now we just have to work on trimming the length of review from eight months to 60 seconds,” said Coe.
In a separate announcement, the IAAF announced that 10 additional athletes had been DQ’d from the 2018 World Indoor Championships, including all four remaining finalists in the men’s 400 meters (Spain’s Oscar Husillos and the Dominican Republic’s Luguelin Santos, who initially crossed the line in first and second, had already been DQ’d). As a result, the gold medal will pass to the fastest non-finalist from the semifinal round, Slovenia’s Luka Janezic.
Two American stars were also among the new disqualifications. 60-meter champion Christian Coleman was DQ’d for only using three safety pins to attach his bib number to his jersey (IAAF rules stipulate each athlete must use four safety pins), while 60-meter hurdles winner Keni Harrison was DQ’d under a little-known rule that states all event winners must make an attempt to shake hands with their fellow medalists after the race.
“Most of the times we accept a hug, or even a smile, to satisfy this requirement,” Jones said. “But Harrison was so happy that she forgot to acknowledge the other medalists on her victory lap so we stripped her of the gold.”