This is old news to anyone who follows track and field, but Gabriele Grunewald has been disqualified in the 3000m, which she handily won. You can see the full race here on USATF’s site (about 10 minutes long). Briefly what happened was that Grunewald made contact with Jordan Hasay and Shannon Rowbury in the last few hundred meters before the finish line as Grunewald past them on the way to her win. Alberto Salazar, who is Rowbury’s and Hasay’s coach for the Nike-Oregon Project filed a protest. The officials reviewed the film and decided that the contact made by Grunewald was not grounds for disqualification. Salazar filed another protest. The officials again ruled that it was not grounds for disqualification. Salazar filed another protest and the committee decided to overrule themselves and disqualify Grunewald (this is about three hours after the event). A more detailed description of the protests and the events can be read here. Grunewald’s disqualification means that Rowbury (who came in 2nd) and Hasay (who came in 4th) to make the team for the world championships. Sara Vaughn, who came in 3rd, does not have a qualifying time.
Ben and I watched the race online, and reviewed the last bit of the race when Grunewald ran past Hasay and Rowbury several times. In our opinion (and in the opinions of several other runners and other spectators), the amount of contact caused by Grunewald is not sufficient for disqualification and the disqualification came about because of the incredible amount of political pressure made by Salazar. The contact was incidental and no greater than the normal amount of jostling you would expect in a race. We feel that the disqualification is unfair and unjust.
We were very much gratified to hear Will Leer’s vocal protest when he said on camera after his race, “I would be remiss if I didn’t take this moment to say how badly I feel for Gabriele Anderson and how much I think it (the DQ) is a disgrace. USA Track and Field needs to get their act together with that one.” After the women’s 1500 m race, several women racers walked 100 m in solidarity in silent protest. Click here to see the photo. Let’s Run created a site to protest the disqualification. If the arbitration petition fails to reverse the decision, there will a public appeal to Hasay to voluntarily withdraw from the team in order to enable Grunewald to go to the world championships. If there is a public appeal, Hasay will be in a tough position. On the one hand, her withdrawal could be perceived by Salazar as a betrayal. On the other hand, a big public uproar could be a disruption and distraction.
It’s such a shame that Grunewald is being denied her win in the 3000 m and that the USATF allowed themselves to be cowed into ruling a decision in favor of a powerful figure in the field. I hope that in the next couple days that this injustice will be righted.