FanDuel - WFBC

May 17, 2006

Gatlin Denied World Record: - Gatlin's time of 9.766 seconds should have been manually rounded up to 9.77 seconds, which only equals Asafa Powell's (reinstated) world record.

posted by JJ to other at 06:03 AM - 25 comments

I guess you shouldn't go around bending your own rules just because it is a world record. Too bad they couldn't have figured this out right away. Should add a little extra something something when Gatlin and Powell go head to head later.

posted by gspm at 07:31 AM on May 17

Oh man, that really sucks. It was kind of a big deal here in Raleigh because Justin went to college at St. Augustine's; which is just down the street from me.

posted by NoMich at 07:41 AM on May 17

Seems like IAFF should include thousandths in determining this world record & not just round up.

posted by catfish at 09:15 AM on May 17

It would be interesting to see a table that includes the records that have been stricken because the athletes were found to have been using performance enhancing drugs. It seems as though "clean" runners eventually get there, but a timeline would be a useful way to analyze the question. Gatlin's securing the record looks like a lock-- the real question is how long he'll hold it.

posted by outside counsel at 09:27 AM on May 17

the real question is how long he'll hold it will they round it off to the nearest day?

posted by Bill Lumbergh at 09:57 AM on May 17

I don't see why this sucks -- dude is still the world record holder. I'm sure for these competitive athletes it's great to be better than everyone else, but being able to say that no one is better than you is a pretty big accomplishment in my book. Plus, he knows he's better than Powell when measured down the thousandths, so take that, Asafa.

posted by holden at 10:04 AM on May 17

Seems like IAFF should include thousandths in determining this world record & not just round up. I guess the fact that they don't is an indication of how accurate they believe the timing system is. That said, there are other sports that do use thousandths, so either those sports are peddling spurious accuracy or the IAAF is lagging behind.

posted by JJ at 10:05 AM on May 17

Back in June 2005 Powell's time was clocked as 9.78 seconds equalling the existing World record - Tim Montgomery, USA, Paris, France, 14/09/2002 - but a few minutes later this was corrected officially to 9.77 (wind 1.6m/s) after examination of the photo-finish images. His reaction time at the start was 0.150.

posted by catfish at 10:17 AM on May 17

If they know that the time was 9.766 accurately, and confidently, enough to strip him of the record, then, wouldn't it stand to reason that they (the IAFF) are confident enough to use timing to thousandths of a second to begin with and not round? Fercrissakes, use the most accurate method available, and let the numbers speak for themselves.

posted by elovrich at 10:29 AM on May 17

JJ wrote: I guess the fact that they don't is an indication of how accurate they believe the timing system is. That said, there are other sports that do use thousandths, so either those sports are peddling spurious accuracy or the IAAF is lagging behind. My guess would be that any time human timing is involved (even if it is a combination of human and computer/machine timing), thousandths of seconds is meaningless (and I'm sure there is some margin of error even at the hundredths level). Anything that is wholly computerized and that has clear demarcation points for stop/start (e.g., on the stop side, the object being timed actually touches an end-point object or crosses a laser line or something like that), I can see thousandths for that.

posted by holden at 10:57 AM on May 17

I don't see why this sucks -- dude is still the world record holder. I'm sure for these competitive athletes it's great to be better than everyone else, but being able to say that no one is better than you is a pretty big accomplishment in my book. The difference may be technically meaningless, but I think this still sucks for Gatlin. One day, he's high as a kite because he broke the world record, the next day he finds out that he only tied the record. After all of the work he put into the momentarily breaking the record and the celebration that I'm sure happened afterwards, it has to be disappointing to have the record taken away because of a technical mistake. I'm sure he will break the record so the disappointment is only temporary, but still.

posted by debo at 11:29 AM on May 17

Anything that is wholly computerized and that has clear demarcation points for stop/start Christ, local road races in NH are starting to use RFID tags for just this reason. If we've got that kind of technology in Backwatastan, what's the Olympics waiting on? Besides a way to get kickbacks on the contract, I mean.

posted by yerfatma at 11:30 AM on May 17

I emailed the statistics & documentation senior manager at IAAF, Mr. Ottavio Castellini, & asked why they didn't extend times to thousandths. His reply: Sorry, I am not involved in this kind of matters. This is a rule approved by the IAAF Congress. Why, I donít know. There is an IAAF Technical Committee in charge of the technical matters. So it is not my responsibility to replay. Regards, Ottavio Castellini

posted by catfish at 12:04 PM on May 17

That said, there are other sports that do use thousandths, so either those sports are peddling spurious accuracy or the IAAF is lagging behind. The only other sport I can think of that would use thousandths of a second would be swimming, and they have the benefit of using touchplates to determine exact finishes. catfish: Good work. It wouldn't have even thought of emailing anyone for an answer. Now take that next step and email the IAAF TC! Also: Ottavio is a really cool name.

posted by grum@work at 12:20 PM on May 17

Technically there is no problem recording times down to thousandths of a second. Not only do they do it in swimming, but they also use thousands in bobsled. My understanding is that some sports have not gone to more accurate clocks because there are too many external factors that can effect times to plus or minus thousandths of a second. Differences that small are not repeatable and are chalked up to luck. Especially in the 100m since they try to account for wind which is difficult to measure precisely and it's effect on the runners can vary by size, lane position, venue architecture etc. etc.

posted by camcanuck at 02:01 PM on May 17

Davies said IAAF rules specify that times must be to the hundredth of a second, adding that timing equipment wasn't yet sophisticated enough to accurately measure to the thousandth of a second. Wind speeds and weather and track conditions also come into play Camcanuck, you are correct. That is the argument that Nick Davies IAAF spokesman provided ( which I'm sure some of you asking the question have seen by now). If Tissot hadn't announced it, we would have caught it eventually," Davies said Hey Justin, we know you're 57 now, but we just wanted to let you know that your time of 9.76 back in 2006 was really 9.77. Sorry about this mistake, we have sent you a gift box of cheese for your trouble. We also invite you back to try to break the record now. We will allow you a head start to compensate for any loss of reaction time you may have suffered do to ankle swelling, gout, or any hip injuries you may have suffered with age.

posted by Bishop at 03:23 PM on May 17

Rounding? Rounding? There's no rounding in Track and Field. Do they round a shot put throw, long jump, javelin, triple jump to the nearest inch? I'm sorry, 9.766 is faster than 9.767. Gatlin got shafted on this one.

posted by dbt302 at 03:27 PM on May 17

I don't see what the big deal is. It was virtually the same time anyway. Put those two in a race and they would not be able to tell who wins.

posted by Young Mikey at 04:04 PM on May 17

The only other sport I can think of that would use thousandths of a second would be swimming, and they have the benefit of using touchplates to determine exact finishes. They do it in speedskating, and just like running, it's a manual start and photo line finish. If they can do it in speedskating, which goes a lot faster, they can do it for running. And they should. More records will be broken, which means more excitement for the sport. (Bobsled, luge, and skeleton also go by the thousands)

posted by mkn at 09:07 PM on May 17

Most photo finish systems "measure" to 1/1000 of a second or better. By that I mean that they take at least 1000 images of the finish line each second. The first image when an athlete shows in the picture (in track that means the torso) is marked as the "finish time," usually by a human looking at the digital "photo." In terms of relative positioning it is quite possible to distinguish between two athletes who finish less than 1/100 second apart. Every 1/1000 second is essentially one pixel in the photo, so a difference of a few 1/1000 is fairly easy to see. The accuracy with which you can measure absolute time is a whole 'nother matter. How accurately does your auto-start system detect the start? How accurately was the track surveyed -- both as to the absolute length and the alignment of the start/finish lines? How accurately can you locate an athlete's torso, as opposed to his/her shirt/limbs/etc.? These factors overwhelm any inaccuracies in the internal clock, especially in a well-controlled event like the 100 m. Most sports that claim to measure records to 1/1000 second are "peddling spurious accuracy," as JJ put it.

posted by Amateur at 09:58 PM on May 17

Davies said IAAF rules specify that times must be to the hundredth of a second, adding that timing equipment wasn't yet sophisticated enough to accurately measure to the thousandth of a second. So if it's not accurate at the thousandthy of a second, how can you round to the nearest hundredth of a second? Shouldn't you just drop that thousandth number altogether?

posted by fabulon7 at 08:13 AM on May 18

Now take that next step and email the IAAF TC! Ottavio would only provide a general email but I sent a proposal anyway. We'll see. Photo finish from the race.

posted by catfish at 10:34 AM on May 18

Quick reply from IAAF. Dear Mr Franks, IAAF Rule 165.23 (a) on this subject says: "For all races up to and including 10,000m, the time shall be read and recorded to 1/100th of a second." Furthermore, at the moment we are not in a position to guarantee a 1.000 timing in all our competitions. Kind regards, Pierre Weiss IAAF General Secretary

posted by catfish at 11:12 AM on May 18

That's cool catfish, thanks. The full-sized image would probably have 100 pixels between the large tickmarks, and 10 between the small tickmarks. There's no problem marking the time to 0.001 seconds. But whether that's an accurate measure of the absolute time, that can be compared to other races in other venues, is a different question.

posted by Amateur at 12:14 PM on May 18

So if it's not accurate at the thousandthy of a second, how can you round to the nearest hundredth of a second? Shouldn't you just drop that thousandth number altogether What possible response could they have for such logic? This comment has exsposed their foolish thinking all together. Well said Fabulon7.

posted by Bishop at 07:14 PM on May 18

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