In Paris, earlier today (or yesterday, or whatever that time difference is), the IAAF — perhaps the most useless acronym in sports; it stands for International Association of Athletics Federations, which is kind like saying you have a Collection of Associated Alliances — announced that sprinter Justin Gatlin's world record 100-meter time he set last week was actually .01 of a second slower than the clock timed it, tying the world record, rather than breaking it.
Now. We're not experts in the art of timing a man running, but nevertheless: We call bullshit. We cannot imagine a single timing mechanism so finely calibrated that it can so obviously distinguish one-hundreth of a second to the point that a world record can be taken away. We are willing to grant — we suppose — that such a timer exists and is used in international competition. (Again: We guess.) But how, exactly, was it determined that not only was that clock off — by one-hundreth of a second no less — but another clock, which happened to be in the vicinity, was more accurate? Is this how it works? Really?
If we were Gatlin or his agent, we'd be screaming bloody hell. But apparently, they're taking it well.
"This is just more incentive for Justin to go out and break the world record again officially," his agent Renaldo Nehemiah told Reuters from his home in Reston, Virginia. "He is in excellent shape for this time of the year. That bodes well for him."
(By the way, that's the same Renaldo Nehemiah who played for the 49ers.)
That quote makes us even more suspicious. That's your first reaction? No appeal? No gnashing of teeth and rending of garments?
The official explanation? "Based on his time recorded after winning the race, Gatlin ran 9.766 seconds, which was then announced as a world record 9.76, the statement read. According to IAAF rules, this should have been rounded up to 9.77." So this was a rounding error? That's it? Any fourth grader knows to round up; when a world's record is at stake, one would think it would be noticed. Sorry: We think something's fishy with a BALCO stink.
Gatlin's World Record Revoked [Reuters]