Why the Data Shows Devon Allen Was Duped at the World Championships originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Was Devon Allen cheated in the hurdles final at the World Championships in Athletics?
The country’s most important racing site thinks so.
In an article on LetsRun.com written by LetsRun founder Robert Johnson, a prominent voice in track and field and former Cornell and Oregon coach, titled “Was Devon Allen Screwed? questioned the validity of the reaction times taken by timing equipment used at the world championships at Hayward Field in Oregon.
Johnson presented several independent research that seems to overwhelmingly indicate that there is a huge statistical chance that Allen should not have been disqualified.
Allen, who is scheduled to report to Eagles training camp next week, was disqualified from the 110-meter hurdles last Sunday for a false start imperceptible to the human eye but judged by the timing system – which measures the time between the pistol and the riders’ feet pressing the sensors in the starting blocks – like 1-1,000ths of a second faster than the allowed limit.
Allen, a former University of Oregon track and football star and two-time Olympic finalist, is the 3rd-fastest hurdler in world history with his 12.84 in New York the month last.
Johnson said he spoke with Allen’s agent, Pauyl Doyle, after the disqualification, and Doyle said he thought the reaction times measured during the encounter were generally faster than usual.
Turns out it’s true.
In his article, Johnson cited a poster from the LetsRun bulletin board that looked up the average reaction times in the sprint events that had taken place through Sunday – the men’s and women’s 100 meters and the men’s hurdles – then compared them. average reaction times. in the same events at the last 12 international track competitions – the last six Olympics and the last six World Championships, all of which have used the exact same timing system.
What this poster determined was that the average reaction times measured in all three races in 2022 were considerably faster than in any other year since 2003, when reaction times were first listed in the results. .
The combined average of all races this year was 0.133 seconds. Other years ranged from 0.144 to 0.165. The average weather was significantly lower than all previous years in every measured event.
And in hurdles, the average was 0.129, and the previous lowest average was 0.146 at the 2016 Olympics in Tokyo. It’s a huge difference.
The odds of the three events in 2022 randomly having the fastest reaction time out of 13 different competitions equals 1 in 13 cubed, or 1 in 2,197, or 0.00046%.
Which, as Johnson pointed out, means there’s a 99.95 statistical chance that something in the timing system isn’t working the same way it did in previous encounters.
Admittedly, the reaction time of human beings has not suddenly improved by 8% since the Olympics last year.
All reaction times from those previous fixtures are listed in the official 898-page World Athletics 2022 media guide which is freely available to the public here.
Meanwhile, verified Twitter user and track coach PJ Vazel, whose biography says he has coached multiple Olympic sprinters, said he researched the number of sprinters and hurdlers whose reaction time has been measured at 0.115 or faster at the last six major international championships – Worlds and Olympics.
His research shows that 25 of 30 reaction times measured at 0.115 or faster in the 100 and obstacles came this year.
Obviously, if the timing system measurements were only off by a fraction of a second, it would be the difference between Allen racing Grant Holloway and Trey Cunningham for a world championship and being disqualified.
World Athletics released a statement saying equipment was “working normally” for the 110m hurdles final.
The statement also said that the information produced by the computerized timing system is used to help the starter make a decision, which indicates that the starter may have had jurisdiction to call off the false start.