The reaction over Gabriele (aka Gabe) Grunewald’s DQ and the lack of transparency in the USATF procedure was swift. The majority of the running community came on the side of Grunewald because 1) the contact made was incidental and not worthy of DQ, 2) the apparent violation made by USATF in going against their own rules for appeals and decisions, and 3) the lack of transparency from the USATF.
Once a protest and an appeal has been filed and denied, a party cannot file a new appeal unless there is NEW evidence. The official USATF statement on the incident reports that “The Jury of Appeal then reviewed additional video evidence and reversed their initial ruling, disqualifying Gabriele Grunewald for a field-of-play infraction impeding Jordan Hasay.” According to this insider story from LetsRun, there was no new video evidence; the officials reviewed the same footage. If this is true, then the USATF violated their own rules.
Why did Grunewald get disqualified? Is it because Salazar and Nike intimidated and coerced the officials and USATF to ruling a decision that is good for the Nike-Oregon Project? Where is the evidence clearly demonstrating that Grunewald impeded Hasay and Rowbury’s progress?
Another concern about the lack of transparency that hasn’t gotten much coverage because of Grunewald’s DQ, is the Mile heat selection. There will be two heats (fast and slow), where only the first fast heat will determine the national champion and selection to the world championship team. Riley Masters, who has the qualifying time and a faster mile time than some of the runners in the fast heat, was placed in the slow heat. LetsRun argues that this there does not need to be a controversy, but I respectfully disagree. Although LetsRun’s proposal for a solution is a good one (and USATF has now quietly placed Riley in the fast heat), LetsRun is ignoring the fact that there is a lack of TRANSPARENCY is how the runners were selected into each heat. There needs to be an open and clearly stated process so that there is equity for all of the runners. Proposing an immediate solution without addressing the critical problem of the opaque dealings of USATF does not lead to a long term solution. How can runners (and spectators) trust the organization that governs the sport, if the rules are arbitrarily applied and changed according to the whims of powerful figures and corporate sponsors. We have competition in order to find the best athletes, not the ones with the deepest pockets and the most influential friends.
If you’re angry and upset for Grunewald’s DQ and the lack of transparency, you can take action to demonstrate your concern. Here are some things that you can do:
- Sign this petition on Change.org demanding the release of the “new video evidence” from USATF.
- Email Max Siegel, CEO of USATF, directly to protest the lack of open and transparent process from USATF (Max.Siegel@usatf.org)
- Share the story on social media. Blog it. Tweet it (use hashtags #USATFControversy and #freegabe). Facebook it.
- If there is a public appeal to Jordan Hasay to withdraw from the team, to ask her respectfully to decline her spot.