This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.
I’ve been wondering for over a week what happened in the meeting between USATF and TFAA to discuss the disqualifications at the USATF Indoor Nationals meet. After an initial announcement that there was going to be a meeting between USATF and the TFAA to discuss procedures and possibly push for some form of athlete representative overview/review of the process, there became nothing but a lot of silence.
It turns out I wasn’t the only one wondering what happened. Lucky for me, Nobby Hashizume did the digging to find out what happened as you can see at his post. It turns out the meeting was cancelled. As for who decided to cancel it and why, that doesn’t seem to be coming out.
In the meantime, fortunately, Gabe Grunewald got her national championship and her chance to run at Worlds. So all is good, right? Well, no. We still don’t know how all that happened was allowed to happen. There is no evidence that this will be prevented from happening in the future.
Plus, Andrew Bumbalough is still disqualified. His disqualification, if possible, is even more egregious than Grunewald’s. First, much like Grunewald, the "incident" that resulted in the disqualification doesn’t seem worthy of such treatment. It was another instance of incidental contact that is normal when racing indoors. Second, Bumbalough wasn’t even part of the "incident". It was another runner!
Some might say it doesn’t matter. He didn’t win the race. He wasn’t in a Worlds qualifying position. Still, it matters. If for no other reason than he was disqualified when he did nothing wrong and there was conclusive evidence of this, the disqualification should have been overturned. Even if 8th place doesn’t seem like a big deal, we don’t know how his sponsor contract(s) is/are structured. Sometimes runners get bonuses for officially competing at national championship meets. Sometimes they get bonuses for things like top 10 finishes. Heck, if nothing else, he should have the personal satisfaction of having the officially recognized 8th place finish.
Most importantly, though, the fact that even this modest meeting didn’t happen suggests USATF is going to just sweep this incident under the rug. Nobody cares, it didn’t happen, nothing is going to change. Is this what we want to come of this ugly incident?