A few weeks ago, we reported that in the midst of over two dozen penalties in 20.1, a major penalty was handed out to Cedric Lapointe in 20.1, and to Tyler Christophel in 20.2. Following an appeal by both athletes, the major penalties have been reversed or adjusted, and both athletes’ names are once again at the top of the leaderboard.
Their placements after the reversal:
- Christophel is 7th.
- Lapointe is 21st.
One big thing: To our knowledge, this is the first time in Open history that two major penalties of this nature have been reversed or adjusted following an athlete appeal, which marks a significant step for both athletes and organizers amidst the current wave of negative criticism about penalties.
The initial ruling: The major penalties doled out to both athletes – who were inside the top 20 worldwide at the time – dropped them more than 300 spots down the leaderboard and squarely out of contention for a Games qualifying spot
- For Christophel, he received major penalty after another athlete moved his dumbbells during the workout when he was not using them.
- For Lapointe, he received a major penalty for “lack of extension during the ground-to-overheads.” Lapointe, posted video of the reps in question on Instagram.
Christophel’s case: He appealed the ruling on the grounds that the standards were misleading based on conflicting language on the website and the PDF scorecard, and that he had in fact adhered to the movement standards as written on the CrossFit Games website.
- Website workout description: “Athletes may not receive assistance when picking up or setting down the dumbbells.”
- PDF scorecard: “Athletes may not receive any assistance moving the dumbbells.”
- The difference between the two: one implies no assistance lifting the dumbbells for the actual reps versus no assistance moving the dumbbells at any time whatsoever.
- Not in question: Christophel’s 986 reps in the workout, which were good enough for 21st worldwide in the workout prior to the penalty.
Lapointe’s case: Lapointe’s appeal countered that the harshness of the penalty ultimately did not align with the minor infractions present in the submission video of his performance.
- The first rep in rounds 3-5 appear to be clear no reps for lack of extension, however it is unclear as to which reps beyond that were in question. The initial penalty ruling did not specify which reps were being dinged for the penalty.
- Lapointe’s original score was good enough for 2nd worldwide, and the addition of 2:30 to his time represents a 30% penalty for an infraction that was left fairly ambiguous.
The appeal was heard by CrossFit Games officials and following review, the major penalty for Christophel was reversed, while Lapointe’s major penalty was adjusted to a minor penalty, and five seconds were added to his original time. More importantly, both athletes had their hopes of a CrossFit games qualification reinstated, and both now sit in a qualifying position after four weeks of the Open.
- For athletes: It’s a landmark decision that shows that, despite some critic’s belief otherwise, athletes have a voice in how ultimately things play out from a legislative perspective. It also highlights the importance of an athlete being their own advocate. The reversal of Christophel’s penalty is a direct result of an athlete taking time to read the standards beforehand, provide substantial evidence supporting his side, and being proactive in his appeal in a timely manner. For Lapointe’s penalty adjustment, it is a prime example of how the new penalty rules that grant HQ more discretion can be used appropriately.
- For CrossFit Inc.: this decision shows that, in accordance with the rules of the competition, the appeals process isn’t only one-sided. No system or organization is perfect, but it also takes honesty to admit when something isn’t right. Given the new landscape of the sport, this type of oversight is a two-part equation that requires people to stand up and push back when something is wrong, and CrossFit Inc. to take responsibility and fix it.
In this instance, both sides did their part, and fitness prevailed.
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