USA Track and Field Tries To Hide The Fact That They Messed Up BIG TIME, Quietly Names New Pan Am Team
Instead of issuing a press release admitting they butchered the national team selection for the Pan Am Games, USATF today took the unprofessional route and simply changed the names on the web page they published on Monday without telling anyone. Kind of like how they changed the qualifying criteria without telling anyone either. An emergency Section 9 arbitration hearing is taking place tonight.
By Robert Johnson
June 26, 2019
Yesterday, LetsRun.com exclusively broke the story of how USATF had butchered the selection process for picking who would run for Team USA at the 2019 Pan Am Games.
In December, USA Track & Field (USATF) stated that they’d pick the team by going down the 2019 U.S. performance list, but last week, they quietly emailed athletes saying in fact they’d actually be selecting the team from a combined 2018 and 2019 US performance list — a list that USATF doesn’t even publish on its own website. On Monday, the team was released and things got even more confusing as some of the team was selected off of the 2018-19 list and some from just the 2019 list and at least two people who should have been at the top two of both lists were totally left off as a result of what we just assume was incompetence.
Was a sorting error the cause of some of this?
Midnight Eastern update: We’ve heard from a source who was offered an explanation for the snafu by someone at USATF. The explanation is that an intern at USATF did not properly sort a spreadsheet containing top marks in each event that was supposed to incorporate marks from 2018 and 2019. For some events, they sorted the marks and left all the 2018 marks at the top (men’s 1500) and for other events, they allegedly sorted with 2019 at top (men’s 5,000) and presumably for others they sorted it correctly. The supervisors didn’t notice it, and for whatever reason, USATF stayed silent once the mistake was discovered. That would explain the mistakes but not why they decided the pick the team from 2018 and 2019 instead of just 2019.
Today USATF tried to quietly (but unprofessionally) tidy up their mess. How did they do it? By sending out a press release admitting they had a) made several mistakes and b) gone against their own published selection rules? No, that would be far too professional for an organization like USATF. They did it by simply changing the names of the people on the page they published on their website on Monday without even acknowledging they altered the web page.
The new list appears to come from the combined 2018-2019 US performance list and it has six new athletes on the team (and six athletes on the original team that are now not going), including totally new men’s 1500 and 5000 squads.
If that wasn’t bush league enough for you, US 1500-meter runner Eric Avila, who was on the initial list but now is off, said USATF didn’t even have the courtesy to call him and tell him they had made a big mistake. He found out about it on social media.
USATF’s high performance division continues to lower the bar when it comes to communicating with athletes ? https://t.co/nRL1rir5PF
— Pole Vault Power (@polevaultpower) June 27, 2019
Next time you remove me from a national team roster, it would be nice if you at least bought me dinner first.
— Eric Avila (@AvilaEricc) June 27, 2019
Update after publication: Eric Avila has sent me a message saying that someone from USATF did call him at 7 p.m. after he found out on social media and he appreciated the call.
Except we’re not done. The fact of the matter is that for seven months USATF had said they’d pick the team using 2019 performances only and instead they picked the team using an athlete’s best mark from 2018 or 2019. That’s unfair and the number of impacted athletes at the top of the 2019 US performance list that aren’t on the team have filed a Section 9 grievance with the USOPC according to Becca Gillespy Peter of Pole Vault Power.
The hearing for that grievance is tonight as the rosters are due tonight.
Update on 6/27/19: The hearing was held last night. A source tells us that if USATF is forced to switch the team to 2019 marks instead of 2018 and 2019 marks that 39 athletes will be impacted.
It appears three athletes have filed a Section 9 complaint with the USOC in regards to USATF's selection procedures for the Pan Am Games, the arbitration hearing is tonight.
— Pole Vault Power (@polevaultpower) June 27, 2019
In the table below, you will see the changes to Team USA between Monday and Wednesday but stay tuned as I imagine it will change again when the hearing is concluded tonight.
Talk about this debacle on our world famous messageboard / fan forum : MB: USATF completely botches selection of 2019 Pan American Games team
Athletes on Monday’s List
New Athletes That Are
|Men’s 800m – Sam Ellison||Men’s 800m – Bryce Hoppel|
|Men’s 1500m – Izaic Yorks||Men’s 1500m – Craig Engels|
|Men’s 1500m – Eric Avila||Men’s 1500m – Johnny Gregorek|
|Men’s 5K – Tyler Day||Men’s 5K – Riley Masters|
|Men’s 5K – Josef Tessema||Men’s 5K – Shadrack Kipchirchir|
|Men’s SP – Josh Awotunde||Men’s SP – Curtis Jensen|
|Women’s TJ – Kelly McKee||Women’s TJ – Imani Oliver|