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Sprinters' Runoff May Be All Off

Jul 2, 2012
Originally published on July 2, 2012 3:12 pm

There will be no runoff today between sprinters Jeneba Tarmoh and Allyson Felix to determine which athlete is eligible to run for Team USA in the 100-meter sprint for women at the London Olympics.

Just before 1:30 p.m. ET, USA Track & Field confirmed in an email to reporters that Tarmoh "has withdrawn herself from consideration." The association says that:

"In an email forwarded to USATF President and Chairman Stephanie Hightower at 9:37 a.m. Pacific Time by her agent, Kimberly Holland, Tarmoh said, 'I Jeneba Tarmoh have decided to decline my 3rd place position in the 100m dash to Allyson Felix. I understand that with this decision I am no longer running the 100m dash in the Olympic Games and will be an alternate for the event. As an alternate I understand that I will be asked to run if another 100m runner decides not to for personal reasons, and/or on the 4x100m relay.' "

NPR's Tom Goldman tells the Newscast Desk that "when the runoff was announced ... Tarmoh was very upset. She felt she had been robbed. Initially they had put her name up on the scoreboard as finishing third," and would qualify for the Olympics team.

Update at 3:15 p.m. ET. Felix Says She Was Ready To Run:

"The situation has been difficult for everyone involved," Felix says in a statement emailed to Tom. "I had accepted the USATF decision and was prepared to run at 5 p.m. [PT]. I wanted to earn my spot on this team and not have it conceded to me so I share in everyone's disappointment that this runoff will not happen. All I can do now is turn my focus to London."

Update at 1:02 p.m. ET. NBC Sports just moved this story:

"Jeneba Tarmoh Backs Out Of 100m Trials Run-off."

Her agent, the network says, has told The Associated Press that Tarmoh won't compete in the runoff with Allyson Felix that was scheduled for later today in Eugene, Ore.

So our original post, about the possibility of the runoff being canceled, has been superseded. But it still has plenty of good background, so here it is:

That amazing photo-finish, third-place tie in the women's 100-meter sprint at the U.S. Olympic trials seemed headed for a resolution with the word that Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh would have a two-woman runoff today.

But now there's this:

-- "According to a source ... Sunday evening Tarmoh had decided to pull out of the race, although she had not officially withdrawn," reports Sports Illustrated's Tim Layden.

-- "Sprinter Jeneba Tarmoh is reconsidering her decision to take part in the race against training partner Allyson Felix, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation," says The Associated Press.

-- NBC Sports, which is set to to televise a runoff at 8 p.m. ET this evening, is saying that Layden's report means "the outcome of an 11-second race that has taken nearly nine days to reconcile" may be even further delayed.

As you may recall from our earlier post, on June 23 Felix and Tarmoh both hit the finish line in what race officials later says was a dead heat. The issue of who came in third in that race is important because only the top three would qualify to run that event for Team USA in the London Olympics.

Since that photo finish in the 100, Felix has gone on to win the 200-meter sprint at the trials. So she's on Team USA no matter what happens in the 100. Tarmoh, as The Register-Guard reports, finished fifth in the 200.

Earlier today on Morning Edition, NPR's Tom Goldman said it was Felix who might decide not to take part in a runoff with Tarmoh, if she (Felix) isn't feeling quite right. He just told us that officials at USA Track & Field told him an email a short time ago that as far as they know the runoff is still on.

As for what happens if one or both of the sprinters declines to participate in a runoff, that possibility isn't specifically covered in the rules set out by UST&F.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.