Charles Jock Named Alternate After Arriving In Bahamas, Leaves World Relays
The official roster decisions were announced at Friday's technical meeting here in Nassau, the Bahamian capital, though Jock's camp says he found out that he was an alternate on Thursday evening.
Clayton Murphy, Erik Sowinski, Brannon Kidder and Casimir Loxsom were selected to run instead of Jock, who took third place in the 800m at the U.S. Olympic Trials last summer, then biked home. As Murphy, who earned bronze in Rio, is the only other Olympian in the group, Jock's camp was extremely displeased with the decision. Oregon Track Club Elite head coach Mark Rowland said that "we are disappointed and feel forced into making this decision" and that Jock left "due to the lack of transparency, communication and respect shown to him." Rowland also wanted to "stress that this has no reflection on any of the [other] athletes."
Update: In a text message, Jock said that "I'm already back in the states... Once I arrived in the Bahamas and was informed I was an alternate, I was told three different and unsatisfactory reasons of why/how the decision was made. As honored as I am to be a part of any Team USA, I didn't fly to the Bahamas to watch the World Relays. I thought it best I shift focus to my next race. Wishing the guys competing the best and hoping they bring home the gold."
USATF representative Amanda Brooks said via email that final roster decisions are made by head coach Orin Richburg, in conjunction with the event group coach--in this case Gary Morgan, a race walker who won 17 national titles during the 1980s and 1990s.
The USATF selection process for the IAAF World Relays is fairly strict. The three Olympians from the previous year for that event are invited first. For the 800m specifically, the next invitees are the 600m and 1K champions and runners-up from the U.S. Indoor Championships. Murphy is the U.S. Olympic Trials champion; Trials runner-up Boris Berian declined the position, and Jock accepted. Sowinski won the 600m at U.S. Indoors; Loxsom was runner-up for 600m and set the world record in the event earlier in the year; Kidder was runner-up in the 1K behind Murphy.
Jock, Kidder, and Loxsom have not raced yet this outdoor season. Sowinski ran 1:45.95 behind Murphy's 1:43.60 at Mt. SAC last weekend. Jock raced just once this indoor season: a 2:21.51 1K, his debut in the distance.
Below is a statement from Nike Oregon Track Club Elite head coach Mark Rowland, provided by Jock's agents.
2016 Rio Olympian Charles Jock has decided to leave the USATF World Relay Camp due to the lack of transparency, communication and respect shown to him in being left off the 4x800m starting line-up. We are disappointed and feel forced into making this decision.
Charles informed USATF well in advance of the invitation going out of his intent to be selected and at no point did we believe he would not be racing based on his performance from last year over 800m and being 1 of 2 Olympians who accepted the invitation.
The selection criteria states:
For the men's & women's 4x800m relay pools at the World Relays, invitations will be issued to those athletes who were the three (3) U.S. Team members in the 800 meter competitions at the 2016 Olympic Games, and to the 1st and 2nd place finishers in the 600 meters and the 1000 meters at the 2017 USATF Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, NM. There will be a maximum of five (5) athletes, each gender, for both the men's & women's 4x800 pools -- to be selected from among the invitees who accept the invitation.
It is virtually impossible to select athletes on current form at such an early stage of the season otherwise we would have fully accepted other athletes coming into the equation.
It also appears that an indoor [non championship outdoor event] 600/1k supersedes Olympic representation in this instance and I have difficulty in understanding the logic behind this call.
I believe it's important to make a stand to protect the integrity of the sport so athletes/coaches in the future will not be placed in the same situation and accountability will surface.
Lastly, I fully understand and I am aware of the difficulties in team selection having been part of a federation in the past hence the need for bullet-proof selection criteria or at least open communication/notification.