Official Rules of the Sport

The following information has been selected from the International Association of Athletic Federations Competition Rules 2006-2007, and is intended as a list of the basic rules of track athletics that might be of most use to the individual athlete competing in running events. Please refer to the Rulebook for more specific rules referring to track layouts, referees and other topics (see ‘Resources’ section below).

Some abridged Rules of Athletic Competition of particular interest to Track events competitors, from the IAAF Competition Rules 2006-2007:

Which athletes are eligible to compete? The following Rules determine athlete eligibility:

Definition of Eligible Athlete
1. An athlete is eligible to compete if he agrees to abide by the Rules and has not been declared ineligible.

Ineligibility for International and Domestic Competitions 1. The following persons may be declared ineligible for competitions, whether held under these Rules or the domestic rules of a Member. Any person: (a) whose National Federation is currently suspended by the IAAF. (e) who contravenes the Anti-Doping Rules (see Chapter 3 below); (f) who has committed any act or made any statement either verbally or in writing, or has been responsible for any breaches of the Rules or other conduct which is considered to be insulting or improper or likely to bring the sport into disrepute;

Which clothing and running equipment are allowed in competition? The following Rule applies to clothing, shoes and other equipment:

RULE 143
Clothing, Shoes and Number Bibs
1. In all events athletes must wear clothing which is clean, and designed and worn so as not to be objectionable. The clothing must be made of a material which is non-transparent even if wet. The Victory Ceremony and any lap of honour are considered part of the competition for this purpose. Shoes 2. The purpose of shoes for competition is to give protection and stability to the feet and a firm grip on the ground. Such shoes, however, must not be constructed so as to give an athlete any unfair additional assistance.

Under which circumstances could an athlete be disqualified?
The following Rule defines disqualification:

RULE 145
1. If an athlete is disqualified in an event for an infringement of the Technical Rules, reference shall be made in the official results to the Rule which has been infringed. Disqualification from an event for an infringement of the Technical Rules shall not prevent an athlete from taking part in any further event in that competition. 2. If an athlete is disqualified from an event for acting in an unsporting or improper manner, reference shall be made in the official results giving reasons for such disqualification.

How should races be run?
The following Rules apply to starting, running and finishing races:

RULE 161
Starting Blocks
1. Starting blocks shall be used for all races up to and including 400m (including the first leg of the 4x200m and 4x400m) and shall not be used for any other race. When in position on the track, no part of the starting block shall overlap the start line or extend into another lane.

RULE 162
The Start
1. The start of a race shall be denoted by a white line 5cm wide. In all races not run in lanes the start line shall be curved, so that all the athletes start the same distance from the finish. Stations in events at all distances shall be numbered from left to right, facing the direction of running.
2. All races shall be started by the report of the Starter’s gun or approved starting apparatus fired upwards after he has ascertained that athletes are steady and in the correct starting position. 3. At all International Competitions, except as noted below, the commands of the Starter in his own language, in English or in French shall, in races up to and including 400m (including 4x200m and 4x400m), be "On your marks" and "Set". When all athletes are "Set", the gun shall be fired, or approved starting apparatus activated. An athlete shall not touch either the start line or the ground in front of it with his hands or his feet when on his marks. False start 6. An athlete, after assuming a full and final set position, shall not commence his starting motion until after receiving the report of the gun, or approved starting apparatus. If, in the judgement of the Starter or Recallers, he does so any earlier, it shall be deemed a false start. It shall also be deemed a false start if, in the judgement of the Starter: (a) an athlete fails to comply with the commands "on your marks" or "set" as appropriate after a reasonable time. (b) an athlete after the command "on your marks" disturbs other athletes in the race through sound or otherwise. 7. Any athlete making a false start shall be warned.

RULE 163
The Race
1. The direction of running shall be left-hand inside. The lanes shall be numbered with the left-hand inside lane numbered 1.
2. Any competing athlete who jostles or obstructs another athlete, so as to impede his progress, shall be liable to disqualification from that event. Running in Lanes 3. In all races run in lanes, each athlete shall keep within his allocated lane from start to finish. This shall also apply to any portion of a race run in lanes 4. If an athlete is pushed or forced by another person to run outside his lane, and if no material advantage is gained, the athlete shall not be disqualified. 6. An athlete, after voluntarily leaving the track, shall not be allowed to continue in the race. Check-Marks 7. Except when all or the first portion of a relay race is being run in lanes, athletes may not make check-marks or place objects on or alongside the running track for their assistance.

RULE 164
The Finish
1. The finish of a race shall be denoted by a white line 5cm wide.
3. The athletes shall be placed in the order in which any part of their bodies (i.e. torso, as distinguished from the head, neck, arms, legs, hands or feet) reaches the vertical plane of the nearer edge of the finish line as defined above.

How is a tie resolved?
The following Rule applies to ties:

RULE 167
Ties shall be resolved as follows:
In determining whether there has been a tie in any round for a qualifying position for the next round based on time, the Chief Photo Finish Judge shall consider the actual time recorded by the athletes to 1/1000th of a second. If it is thus determined that there has been a tie, the tying athletes shall be placed in the next round or, if that is not practicable, lots shall be drawn to determine who shall be placed in the next round. In the case of a tie for first place in any final, the Referee is empowered to decide whether it is practicable to arrange for the athletes so tying to compete again. If he decides it is not, the result will stand. Ties in other placings shall remain.

How should Relay races be run?
The following Rule applies to Relay races:

RULE 170
Relay Races
2. Each take-over zone shall be 20m long of which the scratch line is the centre. The zones shall start and finish at the edges of the zone lines nearest the start line in the running direction.
4. The take-over zones for the second and last take-overs (4x400m) will be the 10m lines either side of the start/finish line. 12. The baton shall be a smooth hollow tube, circular in section, made of wood, metal or any other rigid material in one piece, the length of which shall be 28 to 30cm. The circumference shall be 12 to 13cm and it shall not weigh less than 50gm. It should be coloured so as to be easily visible during the race. 13. The baton shall be carried by hand throughout the race. Athletes are not permitted to wear gloves or to place substances on their hands in order to obtain a better grip of the baton. If dropped, it shall be recovered by the athlete who dropped it. He may leave his lane to retrieve the baton provided that, by doing so, he does not lessen the distance to be covered. Provided this procedure is adopted and no other athlete is impeded, dropping the baton shall not result in disqualification. 14. In all relay races, the baton shall be passed within the take-over zone. The passing of the baton commences when it is first touched by the receiving runner and is completed the moment it is in the hand of only the receiving runner. Passing of the baton outside the take-over zone shall result in disqualification. 15. Athletes, before receiving and/or after handing over the baton, should keep in their lanes or zones, in this last case until the course is clear to avoid obstruction to other athletes. If an athlete wilfully impedes a member of another team by running out of position or lane at the finish of his stage, his team shall be disqualified. 16. Assistance by pushing or by any other method shall result in disqualification.