Silly season turns serious: Seed times at Sacramento under scrutinyA lady entering Sacramento worlds had a serious question: What’s with the bogus seed times? She drew a long reply from former WMA stadia VP Rex Harvey and a shorter reply from an IAAF gent who will officiate at worlds. The athlete wrote Rex: “In the printed booklet that is downloadable from the USATF website regarding World’s registration, it says seed times must have been from races after January 2009. However, when you sign up to register online, which is the preferred method, there is no comment or rule stating what and from when seed times can be entered. So for instance, a competitor in my age group has entered a seed time that was listed as a race result from 2007. I can’t verify that she didn’t run what she put as a seed time after Jan 2009, but it seems unlikely based on her past performances and races since Jan 2009. How do you plan to enforce this?”
She continued her query:
In fact, it’s probably not even a fact of enforcing it, if the statement regarding times and when they occurred, is not stated as you register. No one would know unless they read the booklet – which is less likely if you are from the US, since it takes place in our home country. In the end, I realize it is the day you race and your result that counts, but it could give someone a lane advantage. Just thought I would bring this to your attention.
Rex replied, and CC’d his note to a bunch of WMA execs:
I will give you some background and my opinion, but I am no longer the person responsible for this sort of thing. Â That would be WMA Vice-president Stadia; Serge Beckers email@example.com Â Maybe you can get in touch with him.
When I took the VP Stadia job in 2001, seed marks were used very sporadically and usually Â not used at all even if they were known. Through the years I was able to introduce the use of seed times for championships to insure that the right people get into the right heats per the IAAF rules that we operate under. I was able to convince LOC’s to require seed marks on entry blanks although some athletes still leave it blank and end up in the fastest sprint heats and the slowest distance heats. Â This, in a big hurry, Â made a lot of people aware of the need for submitting seed times. Â Â
And the requirement Â for these Â seed marks is to be the best within the past two years or lessor marks as stated by the WMA rule 166.2.1. Â However, individual entry blanks have encouraged those that did not have a performance in that two year period were encouraged to submit their best estimate and they were further encouraged to update the seed mark as often as need be even up to the last minute by submitting updates to the Technical Information Center (TIC) at the Championships themselves.
Â I believe the same procedure is still in effect, but Mr. Beckers can give you a definitive Â answer on that. Â I do have to warn you that WMA has no way to check those seed marks, or more accurately, no time and personnel to check all Â those seed marks. Â An IAAF World Championship has 600 or so seed marks to check and most of the people are very well known. Â WMA World Championships has 16,000 or so marks to check and it is quite impractical. Â
As with doping, sportsmanlike competition and many other factors, we are dependent Â on the integrity of the entrants. Â And if that is lacking than we depend upon peers of the entrants to emphasize Â that integrity. Â Some people are shamed into doing it correctly if it is pointed out. Â Peer pressure is more effective here than any other practical approach. Â Â The goal is as stated in the IAAF Competition Rules: “…the performances of all athletes should be considered and the heats drawn so that, normally, the best performers reach the final.”
In your specific example, perhaps the person you are referring to does not have a performance in the past two years and is honestly estimating that they are going to be able to duplicate their 2007 performance because of good health, hard training, or whatever. Â You will have to admit that we are all optimists when it comes to estimating our future performances.
Good luck in pursuing your question and, more importantly, Â good luck in your competition.
Alan Bell, who will be head starter at the London 2012 Olympics, added his $.02:
I can concur with the test that Rex has put forward. Having been comp director for 5 WMA World events, the idea of using performances submitted by athletes has always been the required systemâ€” BUT the reality is that such info is not consistently submitted and the process is undermined.
My advice? Run each heat like it’s the final.