Five athletes at the Birmingham World Indoor Championships gained unwanted notoriety on Friday when they were all booted out of their 400m heat – the first time in athletics history that an entire field has been disqualified.
Featuring the strongest line-up of all the 400m heats, the field was initially culled when Qatar’s world bronze medallist Abdallelah Haroun false-started to leave only four athletes in the race.
That allowed Grenada’s Bralon Taplin to cruise his way to what appeared to be the simplest of victories as he crossed the line first with minimal exertion.
The first two athletes in each heat were supposed to advance through to Friday evening’s semi-finals, but confusion soon reigned about five minutes after the race when every athlete’s result was wiped out.
Despite a lack of obvious visual evidence, all four athletes who had completed the race were disqualified for lane infringements, having stepped outside their allocated lane at some point during the race.
That meant not a single athlete was eligible for the semi-finals, with their places instead going to fastest losers in other heats.
The absence of Haroun and Taplin, who is the fastest man in the world this year, leaves the event wide open with Czech athlete Pavel Maslak chasing a hat-trick of world indoor titles.
British champion Lee Thompson made it through his heat with little trouble.