By Philip Hersh, Tribune Reporter, Chicago Tribune –
EUGENE, Ore. — The decision on how to break the tie between Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh for third place in the women’s 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials ultimately rests with the U.S. Olympic Committee.
“We are not involved just because there is a controversy,” USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said Sunday. “We have to approve all selection criteria for the Olympic team.”
USA Track & Field President Stephanie Hightower said Sunday discussions have been going on all day with USOC representatives on site in Eugene, including Alan Ashley, the USOC chief of sport performance.
“I can’t say we are close (to resolution),” Hightower said. “We have presented a plan to the USOC.”
Hightower would not comment on whether a run-off race was under consideration, but a source close to the discussions said it was a likely solution.
Managers for both athletes and other USATF officials also have been part of the discussions.
USATF has nothing in its rules to cover the unusual situation, which involves whether Tarmoh or Felix gets the third U.S. spot in the 100-meter field at the London Olympics.
“You would think that after the fiasco involving me in 1984, there would be a procedure in place,” Hightower said.
Hightower became the odd woman out after what looked like a four-way tie for first in the 100-meter hurdles at the 1984 Olympic trials. That took about 30 minutes to resolve.
The 100-meter deadlock has existed since officials reviewing film of the finish determined at 7:19 (Pacific time) Saturday there was no way to separate Felix from Tarmoh. The official times as calculated from photos were given as 11.068 seconds for both.
Carmelita Jeter won the race in 10.92, followed by Tianna Madison at 10.96. Tarboh had been listed as third in unofficial results that were made an official tie an hour later.
Bobby Kersee, who coaches both athletes, said Sunday he doesn’t want anything to affect the athletes involved before they run the 200 meters, in which the first round is Thursday and the final is Saturday.
“I want the athletes left alone until after the 200,” he said.
Kersee would not say whether he would be in favor of a runoff next Sunday.
“I’m okay with the decision being made after the 200,” Kersee said. But he would not say whether that meant a decision on how to resolve the situation or a race to decide the third-place finisher.
“I guess I should change my name to Bobby Controversy,” he said with a laugh. “It’s a good thing both athletes have different managers.”
Felix’s brother, Wes, is her manager/agent. Kimberly Holland is the manager/agent for Tarmoh.
“There is not a runoff set in stone,” Holland said.