UPDATE: USATF Corrects Their Own Mistake; Still Unclear If Marks This Summer Will Count for Olympic Trials Qualifying

By Jonathan Gault
June 18, 2020

On June 12, USATF posted a set of event hosting FAQs on its website for organizers hoping to hold track meets in 2020. One of those questions concerned whether marks achieved at a sanctioned meet this summer could be used to qualify for the 2021 Olympic Trials. USATF wrote that, in following the lead of World Athletics, it had decided that any marks achieved through November 30 could not be used to qualify for the 2021 Olympic Trials.

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Yesterday, LetsRun.com published an article criticizing that decision.

The US women’s 800 team at the 2016 Olympic Trials

Today, LetsRun.com was contacted by USATF communications director Susan Hazzard who asked us to retract that story — because the information USATF posted on its own website had not yet been finalized.

Here’s what Hazzard wrote in her email:

We made a mistake.

After posting our Event Hosting Guidance, we received several questions asking if marks made this summer would count for qualifying and record purposes, depending on whether a meet was sanctioned by USATF or not sanctioned.  In preparing an FAQ document to address this question and others, a recommendation was made that marks made from April 6 to November 30, 2020 should not count for Olympic Trials Qualifying purposes, for the same reasons World Athletics is not considering marks obtained in that window — a potential inequity in opportunity for all to safely and effectively train and compete.

Unfortunately, that information was not finalized. We made an error including the information in the posted FAQ on Event Hosting Guidance with other questions related to public health, meet logistics, and sanctioning. We regret the error.

As of now, it remains unclear whether marks achieved this summer will be able to be used to qualify for the 2021 Trials. Hazzard also said USATF is currently deciding whether to allow marks from 2019 and the 2020 indoor season to be used to qualify for the Trials — meaning the entire Trials qualifying window is up in the air right now. She said a decision will likely be finalized very soon.

With no major US meets in July, USATF has a little time to make this decision before the Diamond League and several domestic meets return in August.

Since athletes USATF-sanctioned meets have been on pause during the coronavirus pandemic, this gaffe is a case of no harm, no foul. The same cannot be said about the last time USATF posted the wrong information on its website. Last year, USATF picked its team for the Pan American Games based off criteria that directly contradicted its own published selection policy. After an arbitration hearing — for which LetsRun.com paid $2,000 to help organize — USATF was ordered to re-pick the team based on the actual, published policy.

Talk about this on the LetsRun.com messageboard. MB: USATF says statement it published on its website saying you couldn’t qualify for the Trials during Covid-19 wasn’t actually true.