FIRST LOOK: The 2020 CrossFit Games Rulebook and Drug Testing Policy

Aug 29, 2019 by

The 2019-2020 CrossFit Games Rulebook and Drug Testing Policy has been officially released. With the Open moving to the front of the season schedule in October, the general flow and logistics of the competition season this year will be much improved. There are some important updates and changes for this season worth noting, including some key adjustments to the drug testing policy. We’ve pored through both the rulebook and drug policy, and here’s what you need to know to get squared away for the 2020 CrossFit Games season.

Important Dates: The rulebook outlines some of the specific dates, deadlines, and format details for competition throughout the season that everyone should be aware of.

  • The Open. The 2020 Open will run five weeks and consist of five workouts, with one workout being released each week starting Thursday, October 10, at 5:00 PM PT. Subsequent workouts will be released on October 17, 24, 31, and November 7 at 5:00 PM PT.
  • Open Submission Deadline. The submission deadline for Open workouts remains the same as in previous years; the Monday following the release of each workout at 5:00 PM PT. The 2020 Open will officially close Monday, November 11, at 5:00 PM PT.
  • The Age Group Online Qualifier (AGOQ). The AGOQ will begin on Thursday, March 12, at 5:00 PM PT with the release of the qualifier workouts and athletes will have until Monday, March 16, at 5:00 PM PT to submit their scores and/or videos.

The Open

Note: rules and regulations that are entirely new to this season will be noted.

  • Qualifying spots to the Games remain unchanged. The top 20 individual men and women worldwide in the Open, along with the National Champions of each country, will earn a qualifying spot to the 2020 CrossFit Games, just as they did last year.
  • (NEW) National Champion spots will now be backfilled, if and only if a National Champion also earns a spot at the CrossFit Games as a member of a team, and elects to compete at the Games on that team (4.02). Athletes who have full intention of competing on a team at the Games can compete in the Open without fear of occupying the National Champion spot of their country and blocking another athlete from taking it. Example: Joe Scali.
  • The rest of the backfilling process will follow the same structure as last year, with National Champions spots being awarded first, then top 20 spots, then Sanctionals invites. With the Open starting the season off, the flow will be much clearer this season.
  • (New) For video review, the CrossFit internal review team will combine their own reviews with public reviews of video done by judges on the CrossFit Games website (1.14). While this typically occurred anyways, it was not explicitly stated in the rulebook last year and is a signal that public video reviews could carry more weight.
  • (New) Adjustments have been made to what constitutes a Minor Penalty and Major Penalty during video submissions (1.19). Specifically, the language has been adjusted to remove exact “no rep” counts that would determine which penalty an athlete would receive. In the past, one through four bad reps would constitute a minor penalty, and five or more would be a major penalty. Removing this language gives CrossFit Inc. more freedom to use discretion on how to best apply penalties based on movements and circumstance. Not all reps are created equal. Example: Five double-under reps should not be penalized the same as five muscle-ups. 
  • (New) Outside events have permission to use official Open rankings, and the Open leaderboard to be finalized following video review on December 16 (1.22). The permission for outside events to use Open scores isn’t a new development. Explicit permission however, even for non-licensed events, makes it official. More importantly, this is the first time there is a stated deadline in the rulebook for video review of the Open scores to be finished and the leaderboard finalized. This helps give a clearer picture of the season timeline to everyone involved, including athletes planning trips to Sanctionals, as only three events will be completed prior to Open scores being finalized. In contrast, last year the verification was not finished until more than half of the Sanctional season had passed. 
  • (New) The Affiliate Leaderboard. The return of a leaderboard ranking all affiliates in good standing will make a comeback with a whole host of options for scoring, ranking, and comparing affiliates across the globe based on a variety of metrics (1.28). The top Affiliates in each country and scoring method will be recognized, and this is a nice return to the community roots of the Open, encouraging affiliate involvement.
  • (New) Weekly Open video submission requirements. Each week of the Open, the top 40 men and women worldwide will be required to submit workout videos for review (1.31). This is a much more proactive and thorough video review strategy than in years past and should work to solidify the top of the leaderboard earlier on in the competition. This was happening to a smaller extent behind the scenes last year, but now there’s a clearly stated requirement for athletes at the top of the leaderboard to have videos supporting their performances in the Open.

The Age Group Online Qualifier

No major changes to the AGOQ were made relative to last season. However, there are a few things still worth noting as a refresher:

  • The top 200 athletes in each age group division from the Open will qualify to compete in the AGOQ (2.01).  
  • Similar to last year, the athlete rankings from the Open will reset prior to the start of the qualifier, and all athletes will start with the same rank (2.04)
  • The top 10 men and women in each age division from the AGOQ will qualify to compete at the CrossFit Games (2.06).

Sanctionals

There will be 28 total Sanctional competitions taking place spanning nearly eight months, starting November 22, 2019 and ending July 5, 2020. You can check out the full Sanctionals season schedule here.

  • Sanctionals remain as the only path for teams to compete at the CrossFit Games (3.02). The increase in the number of Sanctionals also means an increase in the number of teams competing at the Games.
  • Definition of a Team, and Roster after a receiving a Sanctionals invite. A team is defined as the two men and two women who competed at a Sanctional together. After a team has earned an invite at a Sanctional, they will be required to submit one man and one woman that will be included in their Games team roster. This isn’t a new rule, but the distinction is important due to a new rule this year, listed below.
  • (New) Games invite eligibility for a team at Sanctionals. If an athlete is the member of a Games team roster, and competes on a different team at a later Sanctional, the new team will not be eligible to receive the Games invite from that Sanctional. The team can still compete, win, and earn prize money but the invite will be passed down to the next team. Simply put, an athlete on the roster of a team that has already earned their way to the Games cannot help another team earn an invite at another Sanctional. This rule is to prevent teams stacking their roster with an already qualified, talented athlete to help the team qualify before swapping those athletes out with alternates. This does not prevent athletes who have already qualified as individuals from joining teams and those teams earning invites.

Games

Similar to the AGOQ, no major significant changes to the Games were made via the rulebook, however, much of the language involving things like programming and format of the Games onsite is typically general and intentionally broad. 

  • The Wild Card invitation remains intact (4.06). There will still be four Wild Card invites available at CrossFit Inc.’s discretion after Hunter McIntyre and Ben Smith received invites last year.
  • Athlete seeding at the Games will still be based on the Open scores (4.13). This rule remains the same as last year, and seeding determines athletes heat assignments to start the competition. 
  • Prize purse remains flat (4.21). There is no increase in the prize purse or payouts for individual athletes, age groups, and teams. The top individuals will receive $300,000, the top team $100,000, and the top age group athletes $25,000 (35-39 division) and $10,000 (all other divisions) respectively. This is only the second time in CrossFit Games history, and the first time since 2012, that the prize purse has not increased in some fashion. 

Drug Testing and Transgender Policy

  • The transgender policy for the 2020 season remains intact. No major changes were made to the policy which was brand new in 2019.
  • (New) Inclusion of “over-the-counter performance-enhancing supplements” in the policies opening statement about Drug-Free Competition (Section 1). This is a minor but important inclusion in the opening statement of the policy that was not included in the previous year. It refers to the variety of substances that could potentially compromise the competition and the policy. It’s a direct message to athletes that even legal supplements commonly available can result in sanctions.
  • Possession of banned substances can result in similar sanctions as a failed test (Section 3). This isn’t a new rule, but it’s one that we’re willing to bet most people were unaware of. 
  • All registered athletes are subject to unannounced testing, both random or directed, any time or place, 365 days a year, including at any CrossFit Games competition such as Sanctionals. Again, not a new rule, but there is often confusion about the nature of drug testing in the sport (Section 4). 
  • Athletes within CrossFit’s testing pool must provide up to date contact and whereabouts information to CrossFit Inc. on a quarterly basis for the purpose of drug testing (Section 5). The quarterly deadlines are September 30 for the quarter beginning October 1, December 31 for the quarter beginning January 1, March 31 for the quarter beginning April 1, and June 30 for the quarter beginning July 1. 
  • (New) Drug sanction announcement and athlete notification protocol (Section 10). The most important change to the drug testing policy is CrossFit Inc. explicitly stating that they will announce all violations of the Drug Testing Policy. Previously, the policy stated that CrossFit Inc. will announce violations “at its sole discretion.” Additionally, CrossFit Inc. has also included in the policy the right to announce violations prior to appeals and a final decision and that “the initial announcement will include the athlete’s name, whether the test was in-competition or out-of-competition, and the date of sample collection.” In previous iterations, the policy stated that violations would be announced once the lengthy appeals process was done and a decision had been made. This is a significant improvement in providing general awareness to the public, and having more information above-board sooner for planning purposes. 
  • As stated in the policy, there is no complete list of banned substances due to quickly emerging new substances and classes, however athletes are encouraged to go to www.wada-ama.org/en/content/what-is-prohibited to review the most up to date list.

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