Update on Devon Allen’s Disqualification from Agent Paul Doyle: “It’s been stolen from the fans. It’s been stolen from Devon and that’s unfortunate.”

“It could have been the best thing for the sport since the Michael Johnson- Donovan Bailey duel”

by LetsRun.com
July 28, 2022

A successful World Athletic Championships concluded on Sunday in Eugene, Oregon, but one thing that has met near universal condemnation was the disqualification of Devon Allen in the men’s 110 m hurdle final.

Allen was disqualified for reacting .099 seconds after the gun, under the .10 limit that is supposed to draw scrutiny, despite video review not showing a false start.

Letsrun.com has highlighted statistical analysis that shows the rash of fast reaction times from Eugene was not possible due to statistical chance. Something changed in the way starts were being measured, but so far World Athletics has said everything operated correctly.

Devon Allen’s agent, Paul Doyle, joined us on this week’s LetsRun.com Track Talk Podcast to give us an update on Allen’s disqualification, what happened with a possible exhibition race for Allen, and Allen’s plans for the future on the track.

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We’ve typed up the highlights of our portion of our talk with Paul regarding Devon’s situation below.

To hear all of Paul’s comments, plus his thoughts on the first outdoor Worlds in the US, and where he sees his American Track League going, listen to the full podcast in the player below or on your favorite podcast player here. Doyle joins us at 53:34.

Conversation edited and condensed

LetsRun.com: Can you give us an update [on Devon’s DQ]? Did World Athletics ever talk to you about it, admit that they’re concerned about it?

Paul Doyle: I raised it with World Athletics immediately after, and they were concerned.

They went and they looked at it and moving forward, they said, they’re very comfortable that the system is working right. Now, I don’t know if it means they fixed it and now it’s working right. Or they evaluated it and it was working right. But to me, it’s statistically impossible for things to have been happening that way and not have a calibration error. There had to be a calibration error.  You don’t go from averaging one fast reaction per championship to having 25, which was one of the most eye-opening stats there was. Averaging one reaction time under .115 in all the previous championships, and then you have 25 in this championship. That’s virtually impossible statistically for that to happen. So there had to be a calibration error.

LetsRun.com: It seems like that [there had to be some calibration error]. I forgot who published it recently (Update: Here is the article by NALAthletics.com that we were thinking of), but Devon Allen is one of the top 1% or top 5% starters consistently. He’s known for that.

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Doyle: And Collin Jackson was too known for that. So I was panicking the whole rest of the time that Jasmine Camacho-Quinn was going to have one because she’s notoriously a fast reactor as well.

It’s unfortunate. Definitely, some people react faster than others.

And this 0.10 arbitrary number that’s been thrown out there. It’s very conveniently a round number.  And that’s obvious why they chose it, but it’s wrong. Devon himself raised the point and said, what if I ran 9.50 in the hundred? Are going to tell me, no, that’s too fast? You can’t not count the time. So it’s essentially what he’s doing, he’s reacting faster, but I still do think that this is a major calibration issue as well.

LRC: The only other theory I heard was that maybe the carbon plate in the shoes could cause the force to be [registered] quicker, but the shoes haven’t changed since Tokyo right? It’s not like the shoes changed in the last year have they?

No, they haven’t. That’s something that’s different, but it’s also nonsensical. How can a shoe make you react faster? I don’t see how that could even be possible that what you’re wearing on your feet makes you press faster with your legs.

LRC: One theory that was proposed to me was these are American starters and if it’s in America, they don’t normally DQ if it’s 0.10, so they’re timing the gun [at a normal meet in America]. 

It wasn’t an American starter as far as I’m aware. Based on what Devon Allen said the gentlemen had a pretty thick accent that he was speaking to on his appeal.

LRC: How how’s Devon doing? He seems like he’s someone that’s amazingly good at compartmentalizing his life.

He’s very upset. Devon is really great at hiding his true feelings when it’s appropriate. I’ve known him for seven years. I’ve never once seen him in a bad mood. Even when his dad passed, he was still in the mixed zone, joking around with his buddies and that sort of thing. So he was able to compartmentalize that.

I’m sure he’s doing the same thing here, but this was to be the moment of his life and it was stolen from him. Running this for his dad after everything that had gone on there.

He actually had a slight hamstring strain on the Wednesday before as well, and been working through that with medical team and got it to a point where, if you watch the video of his heat, he looked technically awful and that’s because he was running, protecting his hamstring and trying to make sure he was going to be okay.

But then in the semifinals, he was fine again. And in my mind, not to take anything at all away from Grant Holloway, he’s an amazing athlete, but as competitive as Devon is, having already run 12.84 this year, running in front of the whole crowd, running for his dad, there’s no way he loses that race and we’ll never get to see it.

It’s been stolen from the fans. It’s been stolen from Devon and that’s unfortunate.

LRC: One of the things that a German newspaper guy wanted to ask me was what can be done about this? He’s like in America, don’t people sue? Hasn’t he lost well north of six figures because of this?

You’re the agent, he lost a lot of money, right, from not winning that world title?

Yeah, he absolutely did, more than you can imagine. More than most athletes would, just because of the way things are set up with his situation. So yeah, we are looking at those possibilities. He’s been wronged and it needs to be fixed.

LRC: It’s unfortunate on so many levels. If Devon could be compensated that’s great. But I want the truth to come out. I don’t think they’ve told us the truth…. if you picked one athlete who this shouldn’t happen to, Eugene is such a unique circumstance for Devon Allen.

Devon Allen in college

The stars were aligned for this to be the greatest moment of the world championships, The greatest moment of Devon Allen’s sporting career. Who knows what’s going to happen? Maybe he’ll catch four touchdowns in a Superbowl someday. I don’t know.

But to date this would have been the greatest moment in his sporting career. And he’s a guy that is so beloved by everybody, by his competitors, by other people in other events. He’s just super respected. Anybody that I stayed with in Eugene, if I was staying at Airbnbs, I would just ask them once they found I’m involved in track, ‘Oh, who’s your favorite athlete?’

‘Oh, it’s Devon Allen.’ Everybody loves him. So it’s unfortunate that this happens to a guy like that when all the stars were aligned. Like you said something needs to change. There will be a new rule for sure coming out. But, I do agree with you in that this needs to be acknowledged and the truth needs to come out.

LRC: [We] tried to build some momentum for [an exhibition race for Devon at Worlds] with Grant Holloway,  ‘He’s like, yeah, let’s run it back.’ I know you looked into that. Whatever happened to that, is he going to run a race before training camp starts or training camp may have already started?

Training camp started today [Wednesday] so it’s not going to happen this year. It’s likely not to happen again. The hope is that Devon is coming back to the track and field and he has every intention to. He did it all through college, he did football and track. I’m a Patriots fan, so I’m hoping the Eagles don’t make the playoffs and he’s back to track a few weeks earlier.

I don’t want Devon to know that I’m not cheering for him. Of course, I hope he has a hundred touchdowns and the team still loses, so he doesn’t make the playoffs. Because I want to have him back in track and field and that’s his intention. I think if he has a very successful year this year in the NFL, I think they’ll be a lot more likely to allow him to do that.

If he has a year where he’s struggling, trying to learn the playbook and getting his hands and his rhythm back, they may not be so on board for letting him take some time off to run track.

LRC: And your full expectation is he’ll make the team right? Because I heard at Worlds, he may not make the team, he may be on the practice squad.

No, he’s gonna be on the roster. He’s too good of an athlete.  I think he’s too important of a guy to have in the locker room as well. I don’t see him not making the team. Back before I even knew Devon, I had NFL scouts calling me and asking me about him.

And they said is he going to do track or is he going to do football? And I said, well he could make a lot of money in track, you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars for a long career. And the scouts said to me ‘Paul, this kid, he’s a first-round pick. You’ll get that as a signing bonus.’

So that tells you what the scouts were thinking of him back then. And, I think he’s only gotten better. He’s gotten stronger and faster since then. So, we’ll see. I have full confidence in him making the team and being a productive athlete for the squad.

LRC: What about this [exhibition] race [in Eugene]? Was he not interested? Could you not get anyone in Eugene to do it?

We tried to get a rerun during the World Championships on the track. Maybe I’m an idiot for thinking it was possible, but we really tried and I feel like we got close, but in the end, we couldn’t get the support behind it. I think a big issue if World Athletics was going to allow that to happen, a big part of that would be them admitting they messed up, admitting that there was a mistake. So, we tried. In the end, it just wasn’t reasonable. All the athletes seemed to be on board. Grant [Holloway] was on board, Hansle Parchment, who had only had a cramp in his hamstring right before the race, was on board.

Obviously, Devon was. Trey was down for it. I think it could’ve happened, but, logistically it would have taken almost a miracle to pull it off.

LRC:  It [wouldn’t] change the race [result], but it would have raised all these guys’ profiles.

It could have been the best thing for the sport since the Michael Johnson- Donovan Bailey duel which ended up a flop, but this one could have been great.

For more on our talk with Paul including his overall thoughts of Worlds, this weekend’s American Track League meet, and more listen to the full podcast here.

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