August 12, 2009 / 6:51 PM / 10 years ago

One false start and you are out from 2010, says IAAF

(L-R) Matic Osovnikar of Slovenia, Gibrilla Pato Bangura of Sierra Leone, Marlon Devonish of Britain and Francis Obikwelu of Portugal are stopped by an official after a false start by Obikwelu during the men's 100 metres heats at the 11th IAAF World Athletics Championship in Osaka August 25, 2007. REUTERS/David Gray

BERLIN (Reuters) - From next year any athlete committing a false start will be immediately disqualified under a rule change approved by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) on Wednesday.

Under the current system one false start is allowed “against the field” and anyone subsequently false-starting is then disqualified.

The rule, which will come into force from January 1 2010, does not apply to combined events such as the decathlon and heptathlon, where one false start per race will be allowed with any subsequent false start attracting disqualification.

The new system, which has worked successfully in swimming since its introduction 10 years ago and is also used in American collegiate athletics, had been opposed by many leading athletes but was approved by a vote of 97 to 55 at the IAAF Congress which is taking place in Berlin ahead of the world championships beginning on Saturday.

IAAF President Lamine Diack said: “The current rule gives sprinters the chance to play the system, to deliberately false start but not be punished for it.”

Until 2003 the same athlete had to false-start twice to be disqualified.

Congress also voted to hold the world cross country championships every two years instead of annually.

Editing by Alison Wildey

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