Athletics Australia to call for investigation into 1980 Olympic Games men’s triple jump final & 1948 Olympics Games women’s 200m final
Today marks the 35th anniversary of the final of the men’s triple jump competition at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow.
The Australian triple jump record holder at that time, Ian Campbell, was in outstanding form and was the leading qualifier for the twelve-man final with a jump of 17.02m. He was therefore one of the favourites together with the defending champion and three-time Olympic gold medallist Viktor Saneyev (USSR) and the then world record holder, the great Joao Carlos de Oliveira (BRA).
In the final, Campbell’s first attempt was adjudged to be a foul for overstepping the take-off line. His second attempt, taking off from well behind the take-off line for safety, was measured at 16.72m. On his third attempt, Campbell landed in the pit at a point between the marker designating the Olympic record of 17.39m and that designating the world record of 17.89m. He bounded from the pit excited with his performance only to see that excitement turn to dismay when the chief judge raised a red flag, indicating a foul jump. Thinking that he had again overstepped the take-off line, he enquired of the official as to how far over he had fouled. He was then told that it was not a foul jump for overstepping the take-off line but was classed as a foul because of an apparent scraping by the foot of his trail leg as he entered the jump phase of his attempt. Campbell knew he had not scraped, and made an immediate protest. He requested that an international referee, fluent in English, be called to arbitrate. His request was denied and his protest dismissed. Further protests, after the event, by the Australian athletics section manager, Ray Durie, were also dismissed.
Campbell’s last three jumps were also adjudged to be fouls and at the conclusion of the competition he was placed fifth, with his second jump of 16.72m being recorded as his only valid attempt. The surprise winner from the USSR, Jaak Uudmae, won the event with a distance of 17.35m, the silver going to Saneyev (who now lives in Sydney) with 17.24m and the bronze to De Oliveira with 17.22m. Campbell’s third attempt was clearly in excess of Uudmae’s gold medal winning jump.
For many years Campbell, his coach John Boas and a number of independent observers have claimed that the officiating at the event resulted in a great injustice to Campbell. Over the years there have been allegations that the event was not conducted with the appropriate level of integrity, both on and off the field.
In 2014, Athletics Australia approached Campbell and Boas about a re-examination of the outcome of the event. As a result of this approach, a study of Campbell’s third attempt in the Moscow final was undertaken by a team of biomechanists led by Dr. Simon Taylor of the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL) at Victoria University in Melbourne. Dr. Taylor’s team used two independent photogrammetric techniques, which extract real-world measurements from photographs, to estimate Campbell’s jump distance from video footage from official broadcast film. The result of this study revealed that Campbell’s jump distance on his third attempt was between 17.49m and 17.53m, with the best estimate of 17.51m having a combined uncertainty of ± two centimetres. Campbell’s jump distance was, therefore, well in excess of the gold medal winning distance. The methodology used and the conclusions reached by Dr. Taylor’s team have been verified by both Australian and international expert reviewers.
In relation to the scraping issue, the triple jump comprises three phases, a hop, a step and a jump. In 1980, IAAF rule 174(5) stated that if the trailing leg (the sleeping leg) touched the ground (scraped) during any phase the attempt would be classed as a failure. That rule has since been abolished, as it was considered that no advantage would be gained through scraping and was only related to style. The current rule (IAAF Competition Rules 2014-2015, rule 186: 2) states: It shall not be considered a failure if the athlete, while jumping, touches the ground with the “sleeping” leg.
The report states that from the film of the attempt there is no indication that a scrape had occurred. The result of scraping would be to reduce the angular momentum of the lower limbs, and to increase the momentum of the upper limbs, causing a loss of balance and thus impacting adversely upon the distance able to be achieved. Furthermore, it would be physically impossible to scrape with the trail leg, bearing in mind that the shoe of the trail leg contains spikes on its sole, and still be able to jump the distance that Campbell did. If there had been a scrape it would more likely have hindered Campbell even resulting in him tripping himself up and not completing the jump phase to any great extent. Experts in triple jumping acknowledge the logic behind this proposition.
Athletics Australia has reviewed the report from the ISEAL biomechanics team and recognises that the third jump of Ian Campbell in the final was a distance of 17.51m, within an uncertainty of no more than four centimetres, thus exceeding both the gold medal winning jump and the then Olympic record.
Athletics Australia will submit the report to the IAAF with a request that the IAAF appoint independent technical experts to assess the report and the evidence it has produced and, if confirmed, request the IAAF to call upon the IOC to recognise Campbell’s third round attempt as a legitimate jump and to reverse the foul call. It is hoped that this will produce a re-adjustment of the event results and result in a gold medal being awarded by the IOC to Campbell.
Athletics Australia has also taken this opportunity to call upon the IAAF to investigate the result of the 1948 Olympic Games women’s 200m final in London (GBR).
In that event Shirley Strickland de la Hunty was officially placed fourth. Later examination of the photo finish film has revealed that she clearly finished in third place albeit by a slim margin. At the time photo finish film was only used by judges when the judges thought it necessary. However, the film clearly shows an error was made.
Athletics Australia will call upon the IAAF to investigate this matter and, if confirmed, to recognise Strickland de la Hunty’s performance. This should then lead to an adjustment of the results and a request to the IOC to award Strickland de la Hunty a bronze medal
There are precedents for such actions.
In 1985, for example, the IAAF recognised that there had been an error in the placings in the women’s 100m hurdles final at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles (USA). A bronze medal was awarded to the French athlete Michele Chardonnet after a close examination of the previously unavailable additional photo finish film determined that a dead heat for third place was the correct result.
Advances in science over time have allowed sporting organisations to discover and detect errors in results that have occurred many years in the past. To correct these errors, even after so many years, is the just and right thing to do.
DAVID GRACE QC
Athletics Australia President