Charlotte referee mystifies hurdlers over undo of DQ
The M45 110-meter hurdle race at Charlotte nationals was among the greatest in masters history, given the 14.41 world age-group record it produced. Jamaica’s Karl Smith was chased to the record by Linz world champion Dexter McCloud of Georgia. But Dexter was DQ’d shortly after the race, giving the national championship to Jeff Brower of Texas. Dexter was flagged by several officials for pushing over the ninth hurdle with both hands. The results showed Dexter as DQ’d, and that was that. Or so we thought. About a week later, the online results were changed to show Dexter as having taken second. What happened? Therein lies a tale.
About 10 days ago, I received a note from Jeff, the M45 hurdler from Austin.
Under the subject heading of “Advice needed: Odd official handling at Charlotte,” he wrote that “something odd has happened, and it really disturbs me. I’ve tried to get it resolved through other channels, and have run into a brick wall.”
“I went down to the awards table and found out that the 1st place finisher was from Jamaica, and the 2nd place finisher had been DQ’d (pushed down a hurdle with his hands). Consequently, as I was 3rd in the race, they gave me a gold medal and a National Champion patch. Of course, other hurdlers were affected as a result of this. I looked at the results online several days after the meet, and the results reported the facts above:
M45 Short Hurdles 39″
1 1149 *Smith, Karl M46 Alexandria, VA 14.41* +0.0
2 138 Brower, Jeff M47 Austin, TX 16.92 +0.0
3 738 Lycan, Kelly M47 Lawton, MI 18.17 +0.0
4 1085 Schwieterman, Jose M47 Flossmoor, IL 18.38 +0.0
– 782 McCloud, Dexter M45 Norcross, GA DQ +0.0 Push
Hurdle w Hand
Jeff noted that the new online results showed that Dexter’s DQ had been undone.
Here are the current results online:
1 1149 *Smith, Karl M46 Alexandria, VA 14.41* +0.0
2 782 McCloud, Dexter M45 Norcross, GA 16.72 +0.0
3 138 Brower, Jeff M47 Austin, TX 16.92 +0.0
4 738 Lycan, Kelly M47 Lawton, MI 18.17 +0.0
5 1085 Schwieterman, Jose M47 Flossmoor, IL 18.38 +0.0
On Aug. 18, Jeff began making some inquiries, and learned that the head track referee, Murray Sanford of Georgia, had changed the results to reinstate Dexter’s finish.
Here’s the email message in which Murray takes responsibility for being the DQ-undoer:
From: Murray Sanford
To: Carroll DeWeese
Sent: Sunday, August 13, 2006 5:41 PM
Subject: M45 D/Q
M-45 short hurdles…Dexter McCloud
Dexter was a D/Q in the original posting of the event results…
however I later re-instated him after talking to two other umpires
that provided information on the race that lead me to reverse my
A revision was later posted in the awards area, but the change
was not indicated in the results posted on the website. I believe
Dexter placed second…do not remember the time. He did not receive
an award for this event.
Contact me should you require additional information.
USATF Masters Championships.
In an email to me, Jeff points out that the date of Murray’s note to Carroll (a member of the Games Committee at Charlotte) is 8/13/06, so apparently the DQ-reversal was an issue before Jeff began raising it.
So Jeff, a longtime USATF meet official himself, wrote to Murray, asking for the names of the officials he spoke to, and any details on the race that led to his reversal of the DQ. Jeff says Murray never responded. Jeff later wrote me, “I’d like evidence to confirm that Murray spoke to anyone before reversing the DQ.”
Jeff takes pains to explain that he’s not looking for national-champ bragging rights. He simply is aghast at the week-delayed reversal of the DQ. He thinks it’s just plain wrong. And the lack of a response from Murray just raises his hackles more.
Luckily, he has video evidence to back himself up.
He sent me links to two online movies showing Dexter pushing over the ninth hurdle.
Movie of the full race:
Movie of the foul:
It’s a solid case for DQ’ing Dexter.
Jeff wrote me: “Remember — who won isn’t the issue. Abuse/misuse of power is. That’s why Murray and every official must be accountable. As a USATF National official, I have to accept that responsibility when I’m in that role.”
Hoping to learn more, I emailed Murray as well. That was Oct. 26. It’s been more than a week now. No response. Today I called his home phone number twice. Phone rang forever. Nobody answered.
I also wrote to Dexter last week.
“Allow me to spend my ‘two cents’ on this question. The reason my disqualification was overturned was because it was not correct in the first place. While I’m sure that Murray can provide you with the specific language in the rule book, the gist of it is this: It is not illegal to touch the hurdles with your hands as long as you are attempting to clear the hurdle and have not impeded the progess of other competitors.
“If it were illegal to touch a hurdle while racing, I would be disqualified every time I hit the hurdle with my trail leg!”
Dexter expressed suspicion about Jeff’s motives, asking why he was raising the issue months after the fact. I wrote Dexter back and pointed out that Jeff had made his first inquiries in mid-August.
In my reply to Dexter, I also noted the exact language in the USATF rule book:
Rule 168 4D says:
“A competitor shall be disualified if he/she … in the opinion of the Referee, deliberately knocks down any hurdle.”
So there it is.
I emailed Murray the links to the movie for his review. I have no idea if he’s seen them.
But the videos are clear — the officials at the scene flagged Dexter for a DQ and that’s the way it should have stayed.
So what now?
Murray Sanford is incommunicado. Charlotte meet organizers haven’t responded to Jeff’s inquiries either. Serious questions have been raised over Murray’s motives. And nobody in USATF officialdom seems willing to investigate.
A crying shame.