CrossFit Games

BREAKING: The 2021 CrossFit Games Rulebook Has Arrived, Here’s What You Need To Know

January 7, 2021 by
Photo credit: CrossFit LLC
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One week into 2021 and the CrossFit Games rulebook is officially here along with the drug testing program, and the newly adopted adaptive athlete policy. Contrary to years past, some details have already been revealed including elements of the season structure and important dates, but today’s announcement is chock-full of new additions and we’ve poured through the fine print for what you need to know moving forward. 

Worth noting: General Manager of Sport for CrossFit, Dave Castro, hinted at the release of more information on Monday evening, and despite the official arrival of the rulebook, there were some notable omissions that will likely be amended later on once the global pandemic landscape becomes clearer.

  • No further details on the Semifinals: Arguably the biggest question left unanswered is the “who,” and “where,” regarding the 10 event partners that will host the Semifinals for CrossFIt during the four week period spanning from the end of May into June. 
  • The number of qualifying athletes for both the Semifinals and the Games is unknown and those numbers will likely accompany the announcement of the event partners and their locations.
  •  Prize purse details for the Games were also left out, and with sponsor negotiations still happening behind closed doors, the size of the Games prize purse relative to past seasons is a crucial element. 
  • One thing that did stay in the rulebook was the longstanding rule allowing CrossFit to invite, at its sole discretion, “past winners, guest athletes, teams, or others to participate in any stage of the competition.” 

The Open

Note: rules and regulations that are entirely new to this season will be noted along with the appropriate subsections of the rulebook.

  • (New) Continents will be used as the global boundaries, and as was the case for determining eligibility for national champions in years past, citizenship will determine which country, and subsequently which continent, an athlete or team is grouped to. You can find the country list for each continent here. (1.08)
  • (New) The Affiliate Cup is back, and the eligibility requirements for being on a team are largely the same as they were in the Regionals era, with team members needing to train a majority of the time at the specified team affiliate, athletes only being allowed to be on one team, and the licensee of record for an affiliate (LOR) is unable to be a part of the team on another affiliate. (1.12-17)
  • (New) One notable new eligibility requirement for teams is that athletes must live within 100 miles of the affiliate, and they must be able to provide documentation accordingly for all eligibility requirements. For reference, Scott Panchik lives roughly 500 miles away in Ohio from CrossFit Mayhem in Tennessee. (1.12-17)
  • (New) The registration fees for teams in Latin America and Africa are $5 cheaper which is a first step that is consistent with CEO Eric Roza’s promise to adjust certain fees in the sport based on buying power globally. 
  • Two interesting leaderboard placement elements are that CrossFit explicitly states that outside events (Sanctioned, licensed, or non-licensed) may use Open leaderboard rankings for qualification purposes, and that an additional tiebreaker of worldwide Open placement can be used in the event that the traditional tiebreak of the highest single event finish does not work. Both are simple formalities, but the former gives a clue to CrossFit’s approach to outside competitions utilizing Open data in support of their event.
  • (New) Two new categories in the Open make their debut with a “foundations,” and “equipment-free,” category for each workout being included this year alongside the prescribed and scaled versions. Any workout performed as the foundations version will be automatically ranked below any prescribed or scaled version, and any equipment-free workout score will be ranked below any prescribed, scaled, or foundations version score. Athletes performing an equipment-free version of any Open workout will be ineligible to advance to the Quarterfinal stage. (1.28, 1.30)
  • Prize money will be up for grabs for the top individual athletes worldwide in the Open with first place earning $15,000, second place earning $10,000, third place earning $7,500, fourth place earning $6,000, and fifth place earning $5,000. (1.39)


  • (New) The top 10% of individuals and the top 25% of teams from each continent will advance to the Quarterfinals and those percentages will be based on the registration numbers for each continent at the close of Open workout 21.1. (2.01)
  • (New) Athletes are eligible to compete in both the team and individual Quarterfinals, and the rosters for the team Quarterfinal will be set during registration and will consist of two men, two women, and two alternates (one woman, one man). Once the competition starts a team cannot substitute one of their alternates. (2.03)
  • (New) If an individual or team declines their Quarterfinal invite, CrossFit does not intend to backfill their spot. (2.03, 2.02)
  • (New) Scores will reset for the Quarterfinals and tiebreakers and scoring for the event will mimic that of the Open and top performers will be required to submit videos of their performances for validation.

Age Group Online Qualifier (AGOQ)

  • (New) The top 10% of all age group athletes in each age division will advance to the AGOQ, and the percentage will be based off of the registration numbers in each division at the close of Open workout 21.1. (3.01)
  • (New) The top 20 athletes in each age division in the AGOQ will qualify for the Games, which restores the representation at the Games for the age groups back to what it was during the Regionals era before their qualification numbers were cut in half in 2019. (3.07)

Adaptive Division Policy

Note: The Adaptive Division Policy is robust, and it is evident that the CrossFit Games team is taking the inclusion of the division seriously. Due to the detailed and nuanced nature of the policy and rules set forth for the adaptive divisions, the Morning Chalk Up strongly urges everyone to read the Adaptive Division Policy carefully and in its entirety here.

  • (New) Eight adaptive divisions for men and women have been included in the 2021 Open: Upper Extremity, Lower Extremity, Neuromuscular, Vision, Short Stature, Seated Athletes (with hip function), Seated Athletes (without hip function), and Intellectual.
  • (New) Each division includes eligible impairment lists and additional classification guidelines and resources for each division.
  • (New) The policy also lays out guidelines for acceptable and unacceptable workout and movement modifications as well as protocol for modification requests in the event of extenuating circumstances. 

Drug Testing Policy

Note: The Drug Testing Policy has largely remained consistent in 2021, however as with each competition season it is important to note some key details of the policy and practices that are included and we encourage athletes to read the policy in totality. 

  • CrossFit will conduct year-round drug testing, which includes both random and directed testing in and out of competition at any time, any place. Tests will include either blood or urine analysis, and every athlete agrees to drug testing in accordance with the policy as a condition of participation in any CrossFit competition. 
  • Possession of a banned substance can be used to determine sanctions for an athlete as well in addition to testing, and all tests and collections will be “observed collections.”
  • CrossFit will select athletes to be placed within CrossFit’s “registered athlete testing pool,” and those athletes 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 December 31 for the quarter beginning January 1, March 31 for the quarter beginning April 1, June 30 for the quarter beginning July 1, and September 30 for the quarter beginning October 1. 
  • One commonly misunderstood aspect of the policy is how policy violators are handled following sanctions, per the rulebook “Any athlete who is sanctioned due to a violation of the Drug Testing Policy will be included in the Registered Athlete Testing Pool. The athlete will continue to be subject to drug testing at any time and must provide contact and whereabouts information. Failure to provide contact and whereabouts information as required may result in further sanctions.”
  • CrossFit also reserves the right to honor sanctions handed out to athletes from other organizations or as a result of violations and sanctions from other sports. Example: If a Brazilian weightlifter receives a sanction from the Brazilian Anti-Doping Authority, CrossFit can choose to honor those violations as well, determining their own sanctions. 

Important note from the drug policy: “There is no complete list of banned drugs. New banned substance classes emerge constantly. The most current and complete list is available at In addition, any substance that is chemically related to a class of banned drugs is also banned. Athletes shall be held accountable for all drugs within the banned drug class, regardless of whether they have been specifically identified as banned. For example, designer drugs chemically related to banned substances are banned even if a name has yet to be created for them.

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