Rex Harvey loses WMA presidency election by single vote

Six minutes before noon today, delegates at the Lahti General Assembly gasped as election results were projected on an overhead screen. Ohio’s Rex Harvey craned his neck to see a 61 beside his name. Next to rival Stan Perkins’ name was a 62. Thus ended Rex’s 22-year stint with World Masters Athletics as he lost the race for WMA president to an Australian who took advantage of anti-American sentiment fanned by a German masters official. The German, Eurovets president Dieter Massin (pronounced Mah-SEEN), denied lobbying for Stan in European circles — saying he was “neutral” in the campaign. But Stan readily admitted that Dieter engaged in “electioneering” on his behalf, excusing Dieter’s reported pressure tactics as permissible because, he said, Rex had done the same.

Rex Harvey (left) congratulates Stan Perkins moments after vote was posted.

Rex laughed at that suggestion. But he was forlorn about losing the race by a single vote.

“It doesn’t bother me personally, but I do worry about the athletes,” Rex said, wondering whether Serge Beckers of Belgium, his successor as vice president-stadia, would be able to duplicate the 40- to 60-hour weeks he had put in on behalf of WMA in recent years. 

Beckers, at 47 the youngest elected WMA official in years, beat Oregon’s Sandy Pashkin for vice president by a vote of 67-56. This also means Sandy’s days as WMA records chairwoman are numbered, since Dieter is poised to nominate Sweden’s respected records guru Ivar Söderlind to the post, which Stan fills under his own authority. Ivar, who keeps records for the Eurovets Web site, said he would have help from multi-events expert Ove Edlund.

The debacle for U.S. candidates was complete when New York’s Marilyn Mitchell lost a runoff vote to Turkey’s Selma Turkkal 67-58 for the post of women’s representative on the powerful WMA Council.

In other votes, Finland’s Vesa Lappalainen beat Germany’s Friedel Schunk for executive vice president 72-50. Friedel, who originally had sought solo re-election to the WMA treasurer post, said he withdrew from that race when he saw someone else (Italy’s Francesco De Feo) run for treasurer. But Francesco didn’t make a good first impression when, after being confirmed to the treasurer’s gig 78-39, he left the Congress Centre Fellmanni auditorium — not sticking around for the last five hours of WMA business.

Winston Thomas of Britain, a rehabbing quarter-miler, was re-elected unopposed to the secretary post. Then he won my heart by letting me eat for free at the buffet lunch served WMA delegates. (I had offered to pay, but he waved me through.)

It was Aussie Stan’s squeaker election as president that dominated lunch conversations, however.

“I offered a very viable option,” Stan told me. “Rex’s pedigree is certainly beyond compare. But we have many other issues to deal with (besides the conduct of world championships, which Rex excelled at).”

When I confronted Stan with accusations that he used Dieter Massin to push fellow Europeans into his corner, he didn’t deny it. Stan simply said: “That’s part of electioneering. Some of the same came from Rex.” 

Stan said Dieter “wasn’t saying (to European delegates) you have to vote this way or that,” and noted that “some German delegates voted for Rex.” Another source told me that all German delegates voted for Rex, who had said in his two-minute statement: “Let me state — I am not a politician.”

But I heard stories today of how Dieter had strong-armed delegates at the previous night’s athletes party and how his Eurovets leadership position put pressure on delegates to support his man Stan. I also was told that Dieter simply didn’t like Rex — or Americans in general.

For his part, Dieter didn’t explicitly deny these allegations, telling me: “To say I’m against Americans is absolutely not fair. . . . I have no intention of speaking against one person or more. . .  I don’t like to speak about rumors. I like to speak about facts. As president of the European (masters) federation, I have to be neutral.”

Dieter challenged me to interview delegates who attended European regional meetings at Lahti. But when I told some of my American WMA insider friends about this, they just rolled their eyes.

Dieter finished with an appeal to give the new WMA Council a break, saying: “There’s a new generation. Everybody must have a chance. Monty (Hacker, who quit as acting WMA president in May) asked for fresh blood (on the council). Now we have it. Monty must be happy.”

The freshest blood is Serge Beckers, whose experience in running stadia events is nearly nil — and dwarfed by Sandy’s decades of hard-core meet management.

While not winning all European votes, Serge had enough support from that bloc to prevail despite his thin resume, which highlighted his being the “administrator in athletics as Belgian Defence Military Team Captain,”  team manager for Belgian masters track and stadium manager for “Europeans Veterans Athletics Association in Technical Board of Managers.”

His tiny brochure, with five amateurish photos and fewer than 200 words, said he wanted to improve the quality of WMA meets and communications between athletes, team managers, federation reps, WMA Council and  committees and “organizers.” 

He said he wanted to “build up” a forum for active athletes to “understand in detail their wishes and their proposed solutions” and create a manual “for organizers with the minimum requirements for a Stadia Championship.”

President-elect Perkins, who once made a living putting on multisport masters games Down Under, takes office after the Lahti meet ends Saturday. He echoed Serge’s call for better communications in his 2-minute address to the assembly. He also promised to make public the previously secret medical reports that his WMA committee has prepared, probably including data on doping cases.

In the course of more than seven hours of presentations and questioning, delegates at today’s General Assembly managed to pry out some key information on doping tests at worlds. Friedel Schunk, the outgoing treasurer, said tests each cost between 250 and 500 Euros (about $370 to $700). Given the two-year budget for doping tests of $41,500, tests given at indoor and outdoor worlds probably number between 30 and 60 per meet.

Which means less than 1 percent of athletes are tested.

Likewise, my report tells less than 1 percent of what happened at the GA. Many proposed rule changes, bylaws fixes and constitutional amendments were voted on. I’ll detail them when I have time. (Gotta get my beauty sleep.)

But here are some biggies: Starting May 1, 2010, M80-plus hurdlers will run 200 meters (over five barriers) instead of the current 300. The new distance to the first hurdle of the M60 and M65 100-meter hurdles will be 12 meters instead of the current 16 meters (allowing timber toppers to resume using an 8-step runup).

And W75-plus women will throw the 2-kilogram shot and hammer instead of the current 3 kilogram. As well, the W75-plus discus goes from 1 kilogram to 0.75 kilogram. And the W75-plus “heavy weight” goes from 5.45KG to 4KG. A kilogram is about 2.2 pounds.

Finally, the General Assembly voted 94-8 to adopt new doping guidelines, which could force all countries to drug-test at their national championships or even mandate out-of-competition testing.

Have a nice day.

The closest race in WMA history stunned delegates.
(The 1. and 2. by the names were on the screen before vote was added.)

Sandy Pashkin (center) and Rex awaited results of Sandy’s race for VP-stadia.

Marilyn Mitchell won the first ballot for women’s rep but lost in the runoff.

Marilyn awaits results of her race from near the top of the meeting room.

Sometime after the presidential vote, the delegate count grew by 2 to 125.
WMA Secretary Winston Thomas learned they were latecomers. We may never
know whether their votes would have swung the election to Rex.

Serge Beckers, a member of the Belgium military, won VP-stadia.
He’ll compete at Lahti in the M45 100-meter hurdles Thursday.

U.S. delegates at Lahti General Assembly were (from left) Carroll DeWeese,
national chairman Gary Snyder, Jerry Donley, Mary Rosado and Max Hamlyn.

Dieter Massin, president of the European Veterans Athletics Association,
is an influential WMA Council member as well.

Acting WMA President Tom Jordan, filling in for an ill Monty Hacker,
was hailed for running the most efficient General Assembly in many years.

Stan Perkins, who spends several months each year in Los Angeles
with his daughter, was elected to a four-year term as WMA president.

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August 5, 2009

39 Responses

  1. Weia Reinboud - August 5, 2009

    Anti-american, come on…

  2. David Hampton - August 5, 2009

    Yikes! So that means no USA representation on the WMA going into hosting the meet in Sacremento 2011?

  3. Stefan Waltermann - August 5, 2009

    And this was decided as well: World Championships Stadia 2013 Puerto Alegre, Brazil, July 24. to August 4, 2013. World Championships Indoor 2012 Jyväskylä, Finland; April 3. bis 8, 2012)

  4. peter taylor - August 5, 2009

    Stefan, I think you lapsed into some German on us. You mean that the Finland indoors will last from April 3 to April 8, 2012, yes?
    Wonder what everyone thinks about going to Brazil for the 2013 outdoor worlds (after Sacramento in 2011). Where is Puerto Alegre, anyway (Brazil is a big country, that’s for sure)? What’s the nearest major airport? I’m not going, so this is just for my own interest.

  5. Maria in San Francisco - August 5, 2009

    Info on Porto Alegre (via Wikipedia).

  6. Anonymous - August 5, 2009

    Near Argentina. Porto Alegre is also the name of the airport. Very industrial, port city. TAM flies there from Rio or Sao Paulo. No international flights that I am aware of.

  7. seyton - August 5, 2009

    Why would American representation matter? Track is track.

  8. Vance Jacobson - August 5, 2009

    Elections aside, do these committees ever consider the ease or difficulty, OR cost, of travel to out-of-the-way locales? Puerto Alegre, Brazil is like a 2 hour flight from Rio. Another out of the way place, Kamloops will be a nasty commute for many, particularly with a late season snow in one of several passes to cross. Most airline traffic is to Kelowna over 100 miles away and both are very pricey commuter lines.

  9. David Hampton - August 5, 2009

    I would think that representation of the host country on the WMA helps resolve issues that arise during preparation for the meet.

  10. Anonymous - August 5, 2009

    Re: the posting from the Koops (Germany) about a member of the delegation who was/is actually a German who is a naturalized citizen of the US but lives in Germany. Something to effect the US losing a voting slot as he is considered US. Even tho he is a an officer in the German Masters/WAVA. Can anyone explain this in simple terms what the rule is and could this of affected the voting outcome???
    German to English translation was not really clear. So I may really be off base in what point they were making.

  11. David E. Ortman (M56) - August 5, 2009

    RE: WMA 2013
    For what it’s worth, the current five-day forecast for Puerto Alegre, Brazil is 62-66 degrees with 50-100% chance of rain. July averages 65 degrees (with a low of 47!), August 68 (with a low of 50!). It may not be cheap and and it may not be easy to get to, but at least the athletes won’t melt.

  12. anonymous - August 5, 2009

    same old same old anti-americanism for sure – but not as much as in the past. Perhaps a slate of US candidates turned off some voting delegates.
    That being said – too bad that all the US candidates lost especially with Sac coming up in 2011. It should be interesting to see just how good this new crew will be at running the next worlds. Too much experience has been lost by this election.
    As for Porte Alegre and Finland meets – big ticket airfare – many will be discouraged from attending by the expense. Brazil is no longer an inexpensive country to visit – and Finland – not doing that again especially in late March or early April.

  13. Anonymous - August 6, 2009

    How about the titles are always in the USA. Would that make you happy? There is a world outside your borders, and the USA is not the centre of the universe.

  14. Anonymous - August 6, 2009

    Bad losers

  15. Anonymous - August 6, 2009

    always the same with those stupid US guys, that’s what’s elections are all about, everybody can win, and luckly not always people from the US. New people, new blood…

  16. Anonymous - August 6, 2009

    Do you really believe that the size of the porte folio has an impact on the accomplishments and abilities? There is nothing wrong with being a source of change!

  17. Anonymous - August 6, 2009

    Good luck to all those W75 discus throwers in finding a place to purchase a 0.75 kilogram discus.

  18. Robert Koop - August 6, 2009

    Not so difficult! Look at this

  19. Stefan Waltermann - August 6, 2009

    Yes Peter, I copied the news from the official German masters website and missed the translation. By the way, this is important for us multi-eventers: WMA decided to use the new scoring system “Model 2010” for all combined events (pentathlon, decathlon, heptathlon, weight pentathlon) around the globe starting May 1, 2010. I was under the impression that the starting date would be January 1, 2010 but the official website of the German T&F Association clearly states May 1, 2010. And yes, I finished the new scoring calculator for all events for both male & female competitors with one exception: I need to add the weight pentathlon, I guess. I did not know they will turn to Model 2010 scoring as well. Just go to my website and download the file to your computer. I compared the official results of the 2009 German Pentathlon Championships (they already use Model 2010) with mine and it gave me a perfect match.
    Randy Sturgeon, if you read this, I will propose to lower the All American Standards for the combined events, at least from M 50 or M 55 up. I’ll explain later.

  20. Steve Vaitones - August 6, 2009

    The new implement weights just amuse me
    – Why was the break for women’s new implements made at 70 vs 75?
    And wasn’t that age group just dropped to 3K a few years ago?
    – Okay, you can buy a .75 discus via Germany (at some cost). I can get a hard foam-rubber .75 from my buddy at Turbojav.
    However, neither the German site nor US suppliers MF, Gill, or VSAthletics/Springco offer 2K or a “heavy” weight of 4K, and only VS has a single iron hammer at 2K.
    Think those will magically become readily available on 5/1/10?
    Rich Benoy of Springco made this observation in the USATF Rules Committee meetings a few years ago – Masters can legislate new weights all they want; you can make anything for a price. But if there’s limited demand for the implements, then no one is going to carry them.
    At least it seems we don’t have to worry about them for the indoor 2010 US or World meets
    Steve Vaitones

  21. Nick White - August 6, 2009

    On Track and Field has 3 options for .75kg discs – all under $40. The 2kg hammer looks like there a a couple options – VS and On Track have iron, while Jumpstart athletics offers a Polanik steel training 2kg. The new weight will be an issue.

  22. Kenneth Effler - August 6, 2009

    Hi Stefan-where is the Model 2010 scoring calculator on your website?

  23. Christel Donley - August 6, 2009

    Still here in Lahti and could comment on various
    happenings, MOSTLY great experiences!!!
    Too many people here waiting for the computer use.
    Just to the new weights,Well, I will be 75 yrs in a few months,AND I just bought a 2 kg shot and a 0.75 kg discus. If the implements make it home to the USA, I will share.
    Yes, it was funny, should I be so lucky to be one of the first ones to use the new implements.
    Honestly, when we changed from the 4kg to the 3 kg,it seems LIGHTYEARS ago, after a short time, the weight felt the same…
    Well, I am not a thrower.
    Wish me luck to run the 80 m HH tomorrow, without falling, can’t afford another spill.
    Greetings from Lahti

  24. Mellow Johnny - August 6, 2009

    Any significant rule changes we should be aware of?

  25. Weia Reinboud - August 6, 2009

    Lower weights, yeghhh.

  26. Vance Jacobson - August 6, 2009

    To the “anonymous” people responding to the elections: why are you unwilling to identify yourself?

  27. stefan waltermann - August 7, 2009

    Ken, just go to and click on the Model 2010 button on the opening page. Open the file with Microsoft Office Excel and save it to your computer. Have fun.

  28. Anonymous - August 7, 2009

    Because there is a lot of wrong things in the article of Ken Stone.
    It seems he has seen one different film. Not the GA of WMA.
    Sometime also USA can be defeated, or not ?

  29. Greg Theologes - August 7, 2009

    Then post the inaccuracies that Ken is reporting, even if you do not want to post your name.

  30. Andrew Hecker - August 7, 2009

    I’ll post this with my signature: I have yet to meet Stan Perkins, maybe sometime soon in L.A., but I have known Rex Harvey as a competitor, official and administrator. In this over-politicized world, Rex is one of the most decent, level-headed and knowledgeable individuals I have met in this sport’s administration. I’m sad we are losing his guiding hand at this level. On the other hand, considering the fate of the predecessors to that post, I’m glad he will be able to remain healthy and hopefully still a contributing member of USATF.

  31. Courtland Gray - August 7, 2009

    I am not so interested or moved by the anonymously posted statements from people who, though interested, are afraid to show their face. They only attack and point fingers without any contribution. Why bother? Just stay away. We don’t need you.

  32. Frank Lulich - August 8, 2009

    I found Ken’s notes interesting to say the least. Though I am someone who hasn’t been very involved for the past few years, the politics don’t seem to have changed very much. Sad that some of our athletes express poor opinions of USA. Unfortunately, since many of the negative comments come from “anonymous”, it is difficult to discern if the comments are aimed at US athletes/people in general, or at the candidates. It would be nice to have specifics to ponder, so that it could be determined if the negative comments have merit. At least then, something could be done about it. I am curious why our largest contingency (Germany) didn’t have candidates for these top positions. Anyway, congratulations to all the winners, and let’s all wish them success for our sport.

  33. Anthony Treacher - August 8, 2009

    Meeting you US master athletes and officers like Rex Harvey increases our admiration for the USA.

  34. Milan Jamrich - August 10, 2009

    Porto Alegre
    In my opinion, we should not have World Championship in Europe or North America only. The rest of the world wants to have its turn as well. Ok, maybe it is not going to be organized as well as in Germany or in USA. So what. In the absence of qualifying limits most of the competitors are tourists anyway.
    Brazil is not a bad country to go to
    And stop whining about costs getting there. No matter where we put it , it is going to be expensive for somebody.

  35. Stefan Waltermann - August 10, 2009

    Right on, Milan. Because 2015, we all might be going to Lisbon for the Outdoors. And that is a good thing. We can take our language skills from Brazil and perfect our Portuguese in Portugal. Well, that is the latest rumor according to I have not tasted an Aguardente de Medronho since the Revolution of Roses in 1974! Remember the slogan? “Petals for the bourgeoisie, thorns for the people.” But that medronho, those “Mata Bicho” or “Germ Killer” is powerful stuff, better than a swine flu shot.

  36. Anonymous - August 10, 2009

    I like Portugal. Lisbon works for me. I was in Lisbon in 1974, when they had the cholera epidemic. I was drinking tap water and lot of Vinho Verde. Did not get sick. It turned out that the cholera spread through bottled water, as one of the wells was contaminated.

  37. Milan Jamrich - August 10, 2009

    Sorry, that anonymous reply to Stefan Waltermann was from me.

  38. milan Jamrich - August 10, 2009

    “Porto Alegre is also one of the wealthiest cities in Latin America,[4] and one of the most diverse. It has welcomed immigrants from all over the world, the largest numbers coming from Portugal, Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland. There are also significant Arab and Jewish contingents in the population.” from Wikipedia

  39. grantl - August 10, 2009

    And Porto Alegre is quite close to both Buenos Aires and Rio de Janiero (not to mention Foz de Iguazu and Mar Del Plata), certainly very, very fine places to visit.
    Muito bom! Nós vamos a Brasil em 2013!

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