Two-sport star Devon Allen, who is an international hurdler as well as a receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles, was disqualified from the World Athletic Championships for starting too fast.
Yes, starting too fast. He didn’t false start, at least in the conventional understanding of jumping the gun. Instead he was measured at getting off the line in 0.099 seconds, which in the World Championships is treated as a false start, because the belief is nobody can get off the line naturally that quickly. This is the case for any start that falls under a 0.1 threshold — which frankly seems arbitrary and ridiculous.
Regardless of whether you believe that Allen heard the gun and reacted in lightning speed or not, the justification for disqualifying him is stupid. I don’t even know how that rule makes sense. It’s tantamount to taking away a sack and issuing a penalty because a player managed to jump the snap count, or erasing a home run because the a batter knew where the pitch was going.
We have incredible technology now that allows officials to check the reaction time of athletes. If he was 0.001 faster than the gun, then yes, disqualify him without question. Here’s a case where he was 0.001 quicker than a made up figure established because there’s a belief it’s impossible to start that fast.
Allen was punished for being too good. It’s just that simple. Even if he didn’t hear the gun and managed to predict and perfectly time his start, what’s the problem? It’s not like this would be a reliable technique. Hell, it would probably result in more false starts over time than it ever would generate wins.
Instead, Allen was forced to watch other athletes compete in the finals, knowing he was faster.
This has to be one of the worst, stupidest rules in sports.