Number-swappers to be disqualified under new UKA rules

Changes in 2014 UK Athletics rule book also relate to non-affiliated athletes in competition and the definition of foreign athletes

Posted on December 19, 2013 by
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Race number

Disqualification for exchanging bib numbers in road races, a change in the definition of foreign athletes and a clampdown on non-affiliated athletes competing are among changes announced for the 2014 UK Athletics rule book.

Under the new rules, which come into operation on April 1 2014, athletes who run in transferred numbers in UKA-licensed road races without permission are to be disqualified. Both they and those who pass on the number will be subject to disciplinary action via the appropriate national organisation.

Many road races make arrangements for legal transfers of entries for those who wish to withdraw from the event and those seeking late entry, but unauthorised number-swapping is common and the bane of many organisers. Existing rules simply read: “Numbers are issued to the individual athlete completing the application form and are non-transferable, except with the specific authority of the Race Secretary.”

Another change concerns the definition of “foreign athletes”, which looks set to cut out the controversial use in team races of “weekender” runners in team races. The exact wording is not yet known, but UKA says: “To qualify for temporary residence an athlete may be undergoing educational training or be in gainful experience but will exclude presence in the UK for the purpose of holidays, short visits or sporting events.”

The proposal for the change came from the English Cross Country Association (ECCA), whose national relay championships in 2012 were won* by a Belgrave team containing two Spaniards who were not resident in the UK, even though they were legally registered with UKA to compete. The unpopular victory led to the ECCA bringing in a new rule for 2013 to limit the number of foreign athletes allowed to score per team. It remains to be seen whether the new UKA rule will lead to the ECCA removing this limit.

Another notable change for 2014 is that athletes competing in national championships – including those of Wales, Scotland etc – will be required to be affiliated with their national association. In addition, those competing in open team competition are “expected” to be thus registered.

The 2012 rule book simply reads on this matter: “After one year of competition an athlete taking part in any event within disciplines listed in Rule 2.4 (a), (b), (d), and (e) should be a member of a Club affiliated directly or indirectly to UKA and be individually registered with a National Association.”

Some track and field leagues already stipulate that athletes must be affiliated with one of the home nations. However, a blanket rule enforcing registration for all competitive athletes may only be possible in future when adequate checking systems are available to all organisers.

As previously hinted, several changes will be made to throwing implements for under-17 and under-15 females to fall into line with the IAAF. The changes are: shot (U17) from 4kg to 3kg, (U15) from 3.25kg to 3kg; hammer (U17) from 4kg to 3kg; javelin (U17/U15) from 600g to 500g. Concern has been expressed over late notice of such implement changes following the publication of the proposal on the UKA website last month.

Among several more minor changes is a clarification on rules on standing positions at change-overs in track relays. Click here for the full list of the changes.

The latest edition of the two-yearly-revised rule book will go into print on January 10, 2014.

AW would love to hear your views on the changes. Please email responses for our letters page to – ideally before December 27. Alternatively you can get vocal on social media – AW can be found on Twitter @AthleticsWeekly and on Facebook here.

* Belgrave later gave up the title after one of the Spaniards failed a drugs test some time after the championships.

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