Athletics: Drummond faces ban after protest over false start

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The Independent Online

USA track and field were last night directed to take disciplinary action against Jon Drummond, whose refusal to accept his disqualification from Sunday night's 100 metres quarter-finals for a false start delayed the programme for almost an hour.

A specially convened meeting of the International Association of Athletics Federations' advisory board concluded that Drummond's behaviour, which included a five-minute stint lying down in his lane, was "improper, unsporting and has brought the sport of athletics into disrepute".

The statutory sanction in such cases is suspension, which means that Drummond, a key member of the US relay team, faces taking no further part in these Championships - something that would strengthen Britain's chances of challenging the traditional US domination of this event.

The IAAF have ordered US Track and Field to hold an investigation and report back by eight o'clock this evening regarding any disciplinary action. The statement goes on: "If the IAAF is not satisfied with the decision of US Track and Field it has the right... to impose its own sanctions."

The advisory board have also included in their censure the USA Track and Field Team's administrative officer, Michael Cain, "who ran on to the track to advise Drummond not to accept his disqualification".

This action will no doubt have been given an additional prompt by the comment attributed to Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, who was an uneasy spectator as Drummond went through his extravagant paces.

"It is an unsporting act which merits a suspension and a call to order," Rogge said.

There was also criticism of the IAAF from Paul Berard, the competition's technical director, who regretted that no one from the organisation agreed to make a statement to the public to explain the problem.

Not surprisingly Drummond's actions distracted the other competitors in his heat, most notably Australia's Patrick Johnson, who came into this championship top of the world 2003 rankings with his June timing of 9.93, but failed to progress to today's semi-finals.

Drummond first came to popular notice after winning the 1991 World Student Games in Sheffield, dropping backwards on to a landing mat in triumph. There were similar celebratory activities from him after the US relay win in the 1993 World Championships, and he was among the quartet of sprinters censured for their antics on the podium after receiving relay golds at the Sydney Olympics.

Drummond was in characteristic form during Sunday's first-round heats, pretending to shoot himself in the head and dropping to the floor after another runner false-started and amusing the crowd after winning by removing his shirt and making his chest muscles dance. The problem is that he never seems to know when to stop his antics.

"I have a love-hate relationship with the officials," Drummond sai . "They understand my feelings. They asked me to leave. I said no. They were asking me to walk away from my dream.

"I didn't do anything wrong - I came here to run. I am 34 now, I may not get another chance."

Among those who castigated him for his behaviour was his fellow countryman Michael Johnson, the world 200 and 400m record holder who is here working for BBC Television. "For all that I am an American, I found Drummond's behaviour embarrassing," he said.

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times BST)

9.0am Men's 100m decathlon

9.05 Women's hammer, qualifying Group A

9.45 Women's 200m, heats

10.0 Men's long jump decathlon

11.0 Women's hammer, qualifying Group B

11.45 Men's shot put decathlon

5.0pm Men's high jump decathlon

5.15 Men's 400m hurdles, heats

5.45 Men's pole vault, qualification

6.05 Women's 5,000m, heats

6.30 Women's triple jump, final

6.50 Men's discus, final

7.0 Women's 200m, quarter-finals

7.30 Women's 100 hurdles, semi-finals

7.45 Women's 800, final

8.0 Men's 400m decathlon

8.35 Men's 3,000 steeplechase, final

8.50 Men's 400m, final

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