USATF & NACAC Said Winners Would Get The 'A' Standard--That's Not True

In the wake of last weekend’s North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC) Championships in Toronto, Canada, confusion has abounded regarding whether or not first-place athletes from the event would receive 2019 IAAF World Championships “A” standards as a result. 

In the past, the IAAF has granted winners of area championships like NACAC the “A” standard for the next world championships, but with the athletics governing body planning to alter the qualifying system for which athletes will achieve the standard in 2019, this is no longer the case.

Below is a statement from IAAF Head of Communications, Nicole Jeffery, on the controversy.

“In the past the winner of the area championships was deemed to have achieved the entry standard (not a wild card) for the next world championships, but that will no longer apply under the new world rankings system, as the world rankings will decide qualification.

 An athlete’s world ranking will be decided based on an average of their best five performances, and the area championships will be counted as one of those performances. So the area championship will contribute to the world ranking but it won’t be the only factor.”

Adding to the confusion, the 2018 NACAC Championships committee released a technical manual for their event on June 30 that indicated event winners, in part, would, “qualify with the A Standard for the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Qatar…” The section reads as follows:

“The winner of each event will qualify with the A Standard for the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Qatar and 2019 Pan Am Games in Peru. It is the National Federation who will decide if they enter or do not enter the athlete.”   

Jamaican Olympian Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who competed this past weekend at NACAC, reiterated this to the media: "What has definitely led to the fact of a lot of athletes coming here (NACAC Games) is also the fact you have a bye once you win."

This change was not apparent to at least two American athletes who competed last weekend in Toronto and FloTrack spoke to on the matter—they believed a victory would mean they achieved the "A" standard. 

Additionally, FloTrack has obtained the following USATF document provided to the athletes that incorrectly states event winners receive an “A” standard:

The key paragraph within that document reads as follows:

"Note that the winner of each event will qualify with the A Standard for the 2019 IAAF Championships in Qatar and 2019 Pan Am Games in Peru. As with previous World Championships team selection, final athlete selection to the team will be determined according to the selection procedures as written by USATF."

As made clear by the IAAF’s release, we know now that this is no longer the case. 

This is all particularly notable for these athletes as the 2019 IAAF World Championships “A” standards are expected to be much faster than in years past. Entry standards for 2019 won’t be released until November 1, 2019, but the IAAF states in the Doha 2019 qualification manual that the IAAF World Rankings— a new rankings system based on meet performance— will serve as the main selection criteria for athletes without an entry standard or a bye into the meet.

The 2018 NACAC Championships will be one of the meets that will factor into an athlete’s world ranking.

We have reached out to both NACAC and USATF to comment on the issue, and will update when we learn more.

More to follow. 

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