CrossFit Games

The 2019 CrossFit Games Rulebook Has Arrived. Here’s What You Need to Know.

January 7, 2019 by
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Today, CrossFit HQ released the much anticipated 2019 CrossFit Games Rulebook, which has drawn added scrutiny due to the breadth of changes introduced last summer and the fact that the 2019 Games season officially kicked off before the rulebook was released.

Here is a complete breakdown of changes introduced to the CrossFit Games competitive season and how it will affect athletes and teams during the 2019 season. You can read the complete rulebook here.

*Note: In regards to individual Games spots and official language, athletes are INVITED to the games through Sanctionals, and they QUALIFY for the Games via the Open.


How do I get to the 2019 Reebok CrossFit Games?

  • As previously announced, the rulebook confirms that the top 20 individual males and 20 females worldwide in the Open, and the top individual athletes in each recognized country will qualify (1.01). Additionally the winning male/female athlete from each of the 15 Sanctioned events for 2019, will receive an invite to compete at the CrossFit Games (3.01). Up to 4 individual athletes may receive at-large bids to the Games at the discretion of CrossFit Inc. (4.06).

Which countries are recognized, and what determines my country?

  • In order for a country to be recognized and send athletes to the Games, it must have at least 1 affiliate in good standing with CrossFit Inc., and the sole determining factor for which country an athlete represents is their citizenship at the close of the first Open workout deadline. (1.07) This includes military personnel on deployment. Athletes with dual citizenship may choose which country they represent but may only compete for one (1.08). For example: A United States citizen living and working in Canada will represent the United States. An athlete with United States and Canadian citizenship will have the option to choose which one he/she represents.

What other requirements are there to qualify as an individual through the Open?

  • In order to be eligible to advance to the Games, athletes must complete all Open workouts as prescribe. So no scaling (1.24). Also as a reminder In order to be eligible an athlete must have used a registered judge for all Open workouts, or submit a video for score validation (1.28). The top 40 individual athletes worldwide, and the top 5 individuals in each country could be asked to provide video of their Open workouts (1.30). Proof of citizenship for national champions will be required AFTER the open and prior to being notified of qualification (1.32).
  • If a National Champion declines their spot to the Games, it will not be backfilled (4.02)

If I’m already invited or qualified, either through a Sanctional, or the Open, can I take another qualification spot or invite?

Well it depends. Both on how you qualified or received an invite and which subsequent competition you’re involved in so here’s how it breaks down (3.01, 4.02, 4.03, 4.04):

Scenario 1: An athlete qualifies for the Games as national champion in the Open AND places top 20 worldwide in the Open.

  • That athlete would qualify for the Games as a national champion and their top 20 spot would be backfilled to the next athlete in line.
  • Example: If Rory Mckernan finishes in the top 20 worldwide for men, and is the national champion for the United States, then he qualifies as the United States national champion and his spot from the top 20 worldwide leaderboard goes to the 21st place finisher worldwide in the Open.

Scenario 2: An athlete qualifies for the Games as national champion in the Open AND wins one or more sanctioned events.

  • That athlete would qualify for the Games as a national champion and their sanctioned event invite would pass to the 2nd place athletes in each Sanctional won by that athlete.
  • Example: If Samantha Briggs, who has earned an invite from the Dubai CrossFit Championship, is National Champion for England/U.K, then her invite from Dubai will be extended to 2nd place Jamie Greene. If she were to win another sanctioned event, her invitation would also pass to the 2nd place athlete of that event.
  • Every Sanctional will send an athlete to the CrossFit Games.

Scenario 3: An athlete wins one or more sanctioned events AND finishes top 20 worldwide in the Open.

  • That athlete would qualify with a top 20 spot worldwide in the Open and their sanctioned event invite would pass to the 2nd place athlete in any sanctioned event he or she won.
  • Example: If Mat Fraser finishes top 20 worldwide in the Open, his invite from Dubai will be awarded to 2nd place Dubai finisher Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson. If he were to win another sanctioned event, his invitation would also pass to the 2nd place athlete of that event.

Scenario 4: An athlete wins multiple sanctioned events.

  • If an athlete has already received an invite from a sanctioned event, and then wins another one, the invite from the latter of the 2 events chronologically will be extended to the next athlete in line on the leaderboard that. Any further invites earned will also be passed down.
  • Example: If Mat Fraser, who has an invite from Dubai, skips the Open or doesn’t qualify via the Open, and then wins the Rogue Invitational, his invite from the Rogue Invitational, since it happened after Dubai, will be awarded to the 2nd place finisher, and if the 2nd place finisher (let’s call him Patricio Vellnino) has already been invited or qualified, then the 3rd place finisher will receive the invite, and so on, and so forth.

Scenario 5: An athlete qualifies by placing in the top 20 worldwide in the Open, and either declines, OR will compete on a team that has been invited to the Games.

  • That athlete’s top 20 qualifying spot from the Open will be passed down to the next athlete in line on the worldwide leaderboard.

Scenario 6: An athlete qualifies as national champion but declines, OR does not complete all the Open workouts as prescribed.

  • That athlete will not compete at the CrossFit Games, and their spot WILL NOT be backfilled or passed down to the next athlete in line on their country leaderboard.

Note: In the event of top 20 worldwide qualifying spots in the Open, or sanctioned event invites being passed down, if the next athlete in line has already earned an invite or qualified by other means, then it will continue to be passed down to the next athlete in line that has NOT qualified or been invited yet. As a general rule to help you understand how the hierarchy of how invites and qualifications are awarded: national champions qualify first, followed by the top 20 worldwide, and then invites from Sanctionals are awarded last. It’s a lot, we know.

If I already have an invite from a Sanctional, do I have to compete in the Open?

  • No, but you’re probably going to want to compete for seeding purposes. Athletes will be seeded at the Games based on their scores and finish in the Open. If an athlete doesn’t do the Open, they will automatically be given the lowest seed (4.13). The rulebook also says that “As the Games competition unfolds, only the top-ranked athletes and teams may be selected to continue in the competition” (4.14). This means there will most likely be cuts. It’s unclear whether previously rumored elimination stages of competition that higher seed athletes could be allowed to bypass will actually happen. But if they do, the Open would give a greater importance to seeding, and subsequently Open performances. TLDR: Compete in the Open.


How do teams qualify for the Games?

  • A team of 2 men, and 2 women can only receive invites to the Games by winning a sanctioned event. Team athletes aren’t required to do the Open (3.02). The CrossFit Italian Showdown is the only sanctioned event that won’t have a team competition so there will be 14 teams invited to the Games from sanctioned events in 2019 (3.01).

I’m on Invictus and we won Dubai to get our invite to the Games, what now?

  • Once a team officially gets their invite from CrossFit, they’ll get 7 days to submit their Games roster of up to 6 athletes. Exclusive to 2019, any teams earning an invite prior to the Open will be required to declare a roster after the completion of the Open. The roster will include the 4 competing athletes from the sanctional, and up to 2 alternates, 1 male and 1 female. Once the roster is submitted the team can only select from those 6 athletes to field their team at the Games (4.05). Ex: Invictus, having won Dubai and their invite prior to the Open, will have to submit their roster after the completion of the Open. Their roster must include the 4 athletes from Dubai (Rasmus Andersen, Lauren Fisher, Regan Huckaby, Tommy Vinas), along with up to 1 male, and 1 female alternate.

I’m on a team roster that received an invite, can I also compete as an individual?

  • Sure, but it could affect the team’s ability to compete at the Games, and you cannot compete on another team. If an athlete on a team also earns a qualifying spot or invite as an individual and elects to compete as an individual, the athletes team must fill their spot using an alternate. If multiple athletes on a team decide to compete as individual at the Games, and the team cannot field a full team of 4 athletes from their submitted roster they won’t be allowed to compete at the Games (4.05).

When does the team of 4 competing athletes at the Games have to be selected from our roster?

  • At the time of registration for the Games. After the team has been selected at Registration, the roster is frozen and no other changes can be made.

Age Groups (Teens and Masters)

Any major changes to the broader format of our season?

  • Not entirely. Age group athletes will still compete in the Open for a chance to compete in the Age Group Online Qualifier, and from there a chance to qualify for the CrossFit Games. There is a change to the total number of athletes that qualify for the games in each division. Only 10 athletes in each division will earn a spot at the Games. The age group field has been cut in half from 2018 where 20 athletes in each division earned a spot at the Games. The top 200 athletes in each division in the Open will still qualify for the Age Group Online Qualifier

Will our Open placement still be used in the Age Group Online Qualifier?

  • No. New for 2019 in the age group divisions an athletes placement in the Open will no longer carry over and count as an event placement for the Age Group Online Qualifier (2.04). Previously an athlete who finished 10th overall in their division for the Open would received a 10th place finish as a scored event in the online qualifier to go with an additional 4 scored events announced for that stage of competition. It made qualifying for the Games as an athlete outside of the top 100 in the Open impossible (no one lower than 92nd in the Open managed to do it). With the qualifier presenting a significant step up in programming compared to the Open in years past it makes sense that now the slates are wiped clean after the Open.

What are the dates for the Age Group Online Qualifier?

  • Announced through the rulebook, the qualifier will start with the release of the workouts on Thursday, May 2, 2019, at 5:00 p.m. PT, and will conclude with the score/video submission deadline on Monday, May 6, 2019, at 5:00 p.m. PT.  The dates for the qualifier this year are 2 weeks later than in 2018 when they ran from April 19-23.

Additional Info

On top of the information above listed for the specific division of competition there are a few additional pieces of info worth noting from the Rulebook.

  • The equipment listed for Open use this year explicitly mentions a Concept2 Rower (1.13). If you recall, last year we reported that the two top male scores in 18.1 were invalidated then assessed a penalty for using Xebex brand rowers.
  • If an affiliate manager approves a workout not performed at their affiliate, that affiliate will lose the ability to validate scores for the rest of the season, and potentially in future years (1.17). This is a really in the weeds update but it appears to have stemmed out of a controversy surrounding CrossFit Riviera and their disqualification from the CrossFit Games due to having two licensee’s of record, which we detailed last June.
  • Athlete who potentially have a top score in an Open workout but are unsure after looking at the video, submit it early to guarantee a chance for official review and a potential redo (1.23). From the rulebook: “Individual men, women and age-group athletes who submit a video ranked in the top 70 percent on their respective Open worldwide leaderboard as of 5:00 p.m. PT on Saturday are guaranteed to have their video reviewed no later than 5:00 p.m. PT on Sunday, as long as there are no technical issues with the video.”  This rule, which was in effect last year, this could have benefitted Jacob Heppner, who was unsure of his initial attempt at 18.4 after reviewing the video and notoriously redid it with less than stellar results, eliminating him from Regional contention. If he had submitted his initial questionable video by the listed deadline Saturday, he could have had official word back by Sunday. Granted, Heppner may have had scheduling issues that prevented early submission but it is a rule worth noting for athletes with top scores.
  • Official athlete payouts at the Games were included and most notably the prize money for second place was increased from $100,000 to $115,000. The prize money for teams also increased by $10,000 for second and third overall, and $5,000 for fourth and fifth place teams. No changes in prize money were made for individual or team winners, or masters athletes.

Drug Testing Policy

  • As in past years, drug testing in and out of competition will be handled by CrossFit Inc. in accordance the official Drug Testing Policy. It is worth noting a few things. Athletes that are part of the registered testing pool will be subject to testing “at any time, with no expiration, , until they are removed from the Testing Pool by CrossFit Inc.”
  • Every individual athlete or team earning an invite, or qualifying for at the CrossFit Games will be drug tested.
  • Athletes in the testing pool will be required to provide quarterly whereabouts.
  • In regards to out of competition testing: “All registered athletes, having electronically signed the drug testing consent form as part of the registration process, are subject to unannounced, directed or random testing outside of competition, 365 days a year, at any time and any place. Directed selections will be made solely at the discretion of CrossFit Inc. Random selections may be generated electronically from a pool of athletes selected by CrossFit Inc.” This is huge. This means athletes can be tested with ZERO notification, anytime, anywhere, blood or urine.

Transgender Policy

Completely new to 2019 is the transgender policy. Transgender athletes are encouraged to read the full details regarding the policy and participating in competition. To avoid confusion with a very serious and intricate policy, in our highlights we’ve included pieces of the policy verbatim. To start:

  • If the gender an athlete selects for Open competition is different than their gender at birth, or what was previously listed on the CrossFit website then the selected gender must match the athlete’s everyday gender and the athlete must have obtained civil documents with their registration gender identified like a state I.D. or drivers license (6.02)

The above is true and required for transgender males (female to male), competing in any further stages of competition, however for transgender females (male to female) below are the additional requirements as listed in the official rule book (6.03).

“Athletes who transition from male to female must satisfy the requirements set forth in section 6.02 above and meet the following requirements:

  1. Athletes must, prior to competing in the Online Qualifier or confirming their participation in the Games, contact [email protected] to receive a Declaration Form to complete, declaring that their gender identity is female. That declaration cannot be changed, for any sporting purpose, for a minimum of four years.
  2. Athletes must demonstrate that their total testosterone level in serum has been below 10 nmol/L for at least 12 months prior to their first CrossFit competition (with the requirement for any longer period to be based on a confidential case-by-case evaluation by CrossFit, considering whether or not 12 months is a sufficient length of time to minimize any advantage in women’s competition).
  3. The athlete’s total testosterone level must remain below the 10 nmol/L throughout the period of desired eligibility to compete in the female category.
  4. The information provided by the athlete in sections (i)-(iii) above will be reviewed by CrossFit, which shall determine, in its sole discretion, whether the athlete will be allowed to participate as a female.
  5. Compliance with these requirements may be monitored by CrossFit through additional serum testing. In the event of non-compliance, the athlete’s eligibility for female competition will be suspended for 12 months. An in-competition report of a serum total testosterone level ≥ 10 nmol/L will, subject to section 6.04, result in the disqualification of the results of that competition and the return of any prize money or awards.”

There are potential exceptions to the above listed requirement (6.04) as well as therapeutic use exemptions for banned substances as part of gender transition:

  • As an exception to sections 6.03 (ii) and (iii), athletes having a serum testosterone level ≥10 nmol/L may continue to participate in the female category if they satisfactorily demonstrate to CrossFit that they have a genetic condition that affects the bioavailability of their serum testosterone, such as hyperandrogenism (e.g., PCOS in rare cases), androgen insensitivity syndrome or 5-alpha reductase deficiency.
  • For purposes of events held in 2019, CrossFit, in its sole discretion, may reduce the 12-month period set forth in section 6.03 (ii) for particular events.
  • Any transgender athlete planning to use any banned substance, as defined in Appendix A of the CrossFit Drug Testing Program, as part of a medically supervised gender transition, must first obtain a Therapeutic Use Exemption as provided in section 18 of that policy. Nothing in this Transgender Policy will excuse an athlete’s failure to strictly comply with the CrossFit Drug Testing Policy.

For additional information regarding transgender athletes right to appeal, confidentiality, and other athletes right to challenge gender classification, we seriously encourage you to read the full, exact details of the transgender policy (6.06 – 6.09).

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