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August 15, 2009

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Off-track rivalry as Gay, Bolt disagree over false-start change

TYSON Gay has criticized the rule change that will automatically disqualify every runner who jumps the gun as of next year, while Olympic champion Usain Bolt has given his support for the move.

"No, I don't think it's an improvement," the American sprinter said in Berlin on Thursday, speaking two days before the start of the world championships.

Gay, the defending 100 and 200 champion, said the IAAF should have left the rule as it is -- with the second runner to commit a false start being excluded.

"I don't know the details behind the rules, I talked to (ex-sprinter) Frankie Fredericks about it and he said if he comes to a major championship and someone false starts and is out, that is a waste of a ticket," Gay said.

Bolt, the Olympic champion and world record holder in the 100 and 200 who will clash with Gay on the first weekend of the championships, was very relaxed about the change, though.

"For me, I have no problem," the Jamaican said. "It will be better for the sport. It will be a problem for some people but not for me."

The rule change, adopted by the IAAF, the world governing body of athletics on Wednesday, will not be enforced at this event.

Gay said that human error was inevitable and that the rule would impact athletes' approach to competition.

"I am a human being, like the rest of the athletes, I make mistakes. The new rule will affect athletes a lot mentally, because every time you go to a race now, if you move, you are out," he said. "People train hard all year and then one false start, you are gone."

The rule was backed by the IAAF's executive council, and its President Lamine Diack said 2010 was the ideal time to introduce the change since there are no major competitions scheduled.

"We need to change it next year because everyone will have ample time to change by the time of Daegu," Diack said, referring to the South Korean city where the next worlds will be held, in 2011.

Jorge Salcedo, the head of the technical commission of the IAAF, said the current system favored the cheats, who deliberately committed a first false start to put their opponents on edge.

Meanwhile, Ethiopia's Olympic and world 10,000 champion Tirunesh Dibaba has pulled out of today's event at the world championships because of injury.

Dibaba was still flying to Berlin for tests and was hoping to compete in the 5,000 qualifying on Wednesday.

In another setback, Sileshi Sihine has pulled out of the 10,000 with a hamstring.


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