CrossFit Games

CrossFit Issues Late Penalty, Rescinds Emma Tall’s Games Qualification After Official Announcement

June 16, 2021 by
Photo Credit: Anders Malm (instagram.com/lifeofmalm)
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On Monday night, when the leaderboard closed and results from the weekend’s Semifinals were made official, Emma Tall celebrated qualifying to the CrossFit Games after placing fifth at the German Throwdown. 

  • The 29 year-old Swede had every reason to think she was headed to Madison, WI this summer. She had received an email from CrossFit LLC telling her the scores she submitted had been accepted. CrossFit announced on their own social media congratulating the qualifying athletes. “I was tagged,” Tall said, when referring to the post.

But on Wednesday morning, she woke up and looked at the leaderboard and discovered 20 seconds had been added to her time on Workout 6 — 2:50 to 3:10 — knocking her into 19th on that event, and eighth overall. As a result, Tall was suddenly out of the CrossFit Games and Samantha Briggs, originally in sixth, was in.

Courtesy of Emma Tall

The details: Shortly after she looked at the leaderboard, Tall realized CrossFit had tried reaching her via email on Tuesday at 5 PM PT explaining why she had been issued a penalty on Workout 6; however, the email had gone to her spam folder.

  • “My judge held the barbell to stop it from rolling after dropping from the clean and jerks,” explained Tall of the outside assistance she had received from her judge and partner David Shorunke, which caused the 20-second penalty. 
  • She added: “To be honest, the situation is heartbreaking. Two days after the score had been accepted and the leaderboard closed, I received a penalty.”

CrossFit clarifies: In a statement to the Morning Chalk Up, a CrossFit spokesperson confirmed the 20-second penalty on Event 6 was because Tall’s judge assisted her in setting her barbell down during the event, the same penalty assessed to Tayla Howe at the Lowlands Throwdown.

  • “That penalty moves Emma from fifth to a tie for eighth place in the final standings. The athlete has been notified of this penalty, and the leaderboard has been updated with the revised and final results. CrossFit will release a full list of all penalties assessed during last weekend’s events later today,” said the spokesperson.
  • In a follow-up statement to the Morning Chalk Up, the spokesperson said “As an established practice, athletes are not allowed to receive assistance from their judge or coach unless explicitly stated. This precedent has been established at every stage of CrossFit Games competition, whether virtual or in-person, as it offers an obvious advantage for athletes to have their equipment managed during an event…There are several additional athletes below the qualifier line who are also being issued penalties for similar infractions, all of which will be released later today.”
  • The workout descriptions for the online Semifinals clearly state that for Workouts 1, 2 and 3, the athlete cannot have outside assistance with their equipment; however, in Workouts 4, 5 and 6, the descriptions do not explicitly say anything about outside assistance on equipment, neither in the written description or in the video. As a result, Tall has put in an appeal to CrossFit and is “awaiting a response,” she said.

One big thing: Nowhere does the season rulebook or Semifinal workout descriptions state that “assistance cannot be given in any event unless it is explicitly stated in the workout.” And furthermore, if that was the case, it would not need to be included in the descriptions for workouts 1, 2 and 3.

Image Credit: CrossFit

The bottom line: Regardless of whether or not Tall’s appeal is accepted, the point of controversy isn’t about the penalty itself, but about the fact that CrossFit announced Tall as CrossFit Games-bound. They did so both on social media and in their “email of the day” on Tuesday — only to backtrack and continue to make changes to the leaderboard Wednesday morning. And what prompted the additional review of Tall’s score after it was already accepted in the first place? CrossFit is calling this an “internal miscommunication,” but to Tall, and those close to her, it’s unacceptable. 

  • “On the timing of the announcements last night, that was simply an internal miscommunication, as the team working on the article was not aware of the secondary penalty review process until after it was completed. The article has since been corrected,” said CrossFit
  • On his Instagram story on Wednesday, Shorunke wrote: “This level of incompetence is embarrassing for CrossFit. It’s shitty for athletes and it undermines the whole thing.”

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