The easing of the rules regarding lane infringements are among the competition rule (CR) and technical rule (TR) changes approved by the World Athletics Council which came into force November 1st, 2021.
This ruling comes just over 2 months after Caitlyn Bobb competing in Heat 3 of the Women’s 400m in the World Athletics Under 20 Championships Women’s 400m was Disqualified for crossing into another lane in Nairobi, Kenya.
These were agreed upon in March and July 2021 and are available for download in the Book of Rules. Area and Member Federations are notified of all rule changes directly after the Council meeting at which the decision is made.
Lane infringement rule changes had been on the agenda of the World Athletics Technical Committee since January 2018. At that year’s World Athletics Indoor Championships in Birmingham in March, there were 21 disqualifications relating to lane violations, including four in two races, and since then there has been a heightened debate about these rules.
Rather like race walk transgressions, some one-off lane infringements are now permitted but shall result in disqualification if they are repeated by the same athlete or within the same relay team at any time during the rounds of the same event.
Two further exceptions have been added to the list of scenarios (under TR 17.4) where a lane infringement shall not lead to immediate disqualification. These are: 17.4.2 – while racing in lanes and the inner lane line, the border or kerb is touched once on a bend; and 17.4.3 – while racing not in lanes and one step is taken on or completely over the inner borderline or kerb.
A second occurrence of the act described in these new clauses, in the same event by an individual or any team member, shall result in disqualification. A record of such transgressions shall therefore be carried forward to later rounds of that event and indicated on start lists and results, in a similar fashion to the separate yellow card notices for breaches of discipline.
Athletes racing in lanes shall continue to be disqualified if they are judged to have fully stepped inside the inner borderline or kerb, even only once. Or if either of the acts described in 17.4.2 or 17.4.3 are judged to bring positional advantage or impede another athlete.