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Discussion: IOF Reflections

in: Orienteering; General

Jul 1, 2017 7:08 PM # 
I started a blog on the workings of the IOF. It has received quite a bit of traffic from this site after I mentioned it in a different thread, so I thought it would make sense to create a separate thread for discussion.

I was the Chairman of the MTBO Commission for four years. Saw more of the internal workings of the IOF establishment than ever wanted to see. I resigned in December 2016 when I could bear it any longer.

Posts so far:
- Why did I start to write this blog
- IOF Finances – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
- Highest standards of transparency
- WOD 2017 – beyond the headlines
- Where the money is coming from
- Live Orienteering in action
Jul 1, 2017 9:37 PM # 
You paint a picture of IOF finances that seems similar to what OUSA had been facing in recent years, and dealt with recently by major budget cuts, just before it would have run out of money.
Jul 1, 2017 10:03 PM # 
I am not painting the picture. I am trying to reflect reality ;-)

I was also shocked about the situation until I started to scratch the surface. I knew that the situation was not rosy, but never expected to be so bad. 8 year decline eroded reserves to a dangerous level. The budgets accepted a year ago turned out to be way too optimistic.

In January the combined result of 2016-17 was revised downwards by approximately €160k. 4 months after it was approved! Compare this to total reserves of €114k at the end of 2015, and estimated €77k at the end of 2016.

There was no vis major, no major bombshell. Simply shocking.
Jul 2, 2017 9:50 AM # 
Good to read your thoughts, Sandor. Disappointed you had to leave the MTBO Commission.
Jul 2, 2017 5:45 PM # 
Thanks, Michael. I was not happy to leave the MTBO Commission either, but could not put up with the environment of the IOF it any longer. I still do quite a bit of MTBO related work, though with no official position (and no constraints to share what I see and what I think).

I hope I can add to the general good of orienteering by sharing my insights gained over 6 years into the various activities, culture, and decision making mechanism of the IOF, so that people can make up their opinion on the course our sport is. I hope this will evolve into a broader debate and rethink our route choice as a sport.
Jul 2, 2017 7:11 PM # 
New post:

The Presidents' Conference will take place in Tartu on Wednesday, 5 July.
Will the presidents of member federations force the IOF leadership to talk about the serious financial situation?
Will the President and the Council have the courage to talk openly about the financial issues of the IOF?
According to the published agenda, all they want to discuss is how to rearrange the deckchairs on the Titanic.
Jul 2, 2017 8:28 PM # 
I like your courage that you speak about activities which are not so transperent....Do you really think that things are so bad or do you want just more transperency about everything IOF do? Bankruptcy? This is possible only when you have high debts and you can't repay with your normal incomes. In most cases you restructure costs or you cut some of the activities. This is what IOF is doing probably all the time.... maybe we all need just a detail " P&L sheet" with a clear explanation.
Jul 2, 2017 10:32 PM # 
The IOF is not bankrupt, but in a difficult financial situation. If they continue like this, bankruptcy is behind the corner.

5 out of the 8 past years since 2008 were loss making. Reserves shrunk from €230,000 to around €78,000 (a 66% drop). Does this give you the impression that management restructured costs and cut activities as needed?

In fact, they added cost and activities in the hope of increasing revenues that did not materialise. They missed their own 2016 forecast of net income made in August(!) 2016 by €100,000!
Another miss like that and no money left.

In the meantime the level of transparency has decreased (maybe not unrelated to the continued losses).

See details in
Jul 3, 2017 1:07 AM # 
Why not just increase the athlete licence fees to bring in more revenues and force participants out of the sport altogether? That way there won't be any pesky athletes to have to manage and costs should decrease dramatically.
Jul 4, 2017 8:45 PM # 
Being inspired by the WOC, here is a new post. A historic overview of IOF expense evolution from 2000 to present.

The short summary to whet your appetite:
- IOF expenses have grown unrelentlessly since 2005, from around €200,000 to a budgeted €900,000 in 2018
- Staff cost is the dominant expense that also provided the backbone for total growth, an additional confirmation of Parkinson’s Law
- Spend on IT systems has exploded from €0 in 2013 to a planned €110,000 in 2018 – or close to 4 times what the IOF spends on quality assurance for all events in a typical year
- The Olympic project is a less visible sink for freely spendable money, but its average annual cost is comparable to all spend on IOF event quality
- Some growth is related to taking on flow through expenses (TV, AD), that were part of the sport, but now they are more visible, which is a good thing.
Jul 4, 2017 10:02 PM # 
Why not just increase the athlete license fees

Brilliant idea, it should be implemented by OUSA. Only fully certified, licensed, background-checked athletes are eligible to compete. Orienteering is an elite sport, just like golf , it is not for poor people. Those irredeemable, the deplorables etc. do not belong here.
Jul 5, 2017 12:00 AM # 
This is not to express a view on the substantive matters that Sandor raises, but in largely voluntary organisations seeking to raise their game, there's an understandable transfer of work from volunteer to paid. It's not all the Parkinson effect.

I'll try and illustrate it with my situation, I once had a salaried job with a government agency. When I did work for my club or the national federation, there was no pay, and I claimed expenses only. In truth there was probably a subsidy provided by my employer to orienteering in the form of (some) time, photocopying etc. There was no recompense for running my car, any orienteering business was incidental to being a competitor, or my personal affairs.

The time came when the job ended, and I became an orienteering contractor/retailer. I contracted for mapping, I became the federation's first paid employee at 1 day/week, and I took a cardboard box of compasses to events for sale. As time went on I faced many other costs of running a business - accounting, pitching for business (not all of which transpired), insurance, buying a trailer for the increased equipment, running a computer etc etc Now all of those things that were merely incidental to my old job became costs. Including most of my mileage. And holidays.

So for me a whole lot of costs ceased to become "free" and became real. Posting off some compasses for example involves time and mileage as its not just done on the way to something else. For clubs, more and more mapping was contracted. For the federation, more jobs have been put on a paid basis. Partly this is a result of a desire to "appear more professional" but its also a recognition by orienteers of reduced leisure time and our inability to do some things with volunteers.

I am sure this effect is at work in the IOF. The question is are we getting value for the paid staff. I have the same worries about my federation.
Jul 5, 2017 5:37 AM # 
Michael, You are right that part of the expense growth is unavoidable with changing times, and once you start, it is difficult to stop on the slope.

The question is how much can the IOF (in essence, we) afford. More staff, and more paid activities, and bigger Olympic dreams, and eventor, and even bigger eventor, and Live Center - and renewed Live Orienteering, and more AD, and more media, and the dreams have no limits.

5 loss making years out of the past 8, disappearance of 2/3 of the reserves, and very little sustainable change to show for it. We need a little miracle to happen: commercial revenue increase by a magnitude, and no financial "surprises" for years. Neither of them looks likely.

Otherwise the music will stop soon, and somebody will have to pick up the tab. And have no illusion, we (athletes and volunteer organisers) will pay for it, either directly in more IOF fees, or through our national federations.
Jul 5, 2017 9:11 AM # 
Just a minor nit-pick to the newest blog entry: the WorldGames 2017 are in Wroclaw, not Warsaw.
Jul 5, 2017 9:25 AM # 
OK, it looks they spent more in the last years.

Here is my thoughts about IT. For IT budget I remembered that they said that Eventor will be a huge benefit not just for IOF but also for federations. Can you name pros & cons for a period from the date when they bought it. Spending a huge money over and over on IT solutions is questionable especialy with limited results. What future investments in IT can bring; process simplifications, better UX, less manual work, etc. Investing in IT is always a strategic desicion and maintenance can also be very expensive. Did IOF make the right steps here?

If IOF invest in IT mostly our / federation's money and not money they have secured based on their marketing activities or income from the LIVE platform why we as a financial contributor (federations) can't have access to the LIVE platform? It can be limited to 5/10 users & with the agreed rules for public broadcast but this could give each federation a chance to make a special promotional event for each WOC. Why IOF is not willing to make a project (similar to WOD) how to enter on new markets / pilot projects / promotional events. These questions should be resolved /presented before each new investment in IT. We need to look diferently on our assests that we already have and that we still want to finance and develop. It would be great to have a report, numbers,... on what IOF really achieved so far with IT LIVE platform.
Jul 5, 2017 10:09 AM # 
Thanks, jSh!
Jul 5, 2017 10:51 AM # 
I am yet to meet (or hear) about an IOF event organiser (WRE, World Cup, various Championships), who - on balance - was positive about Eventor. It may, and I stress may, work for pure elite events. For others the process is more complicated, more manual work involved, lot's of frustration for being forced to use the system. I will have a separate post about Eventor issues later.

I agree that that major decisions, like investments in strategic IT solutions, should be broadly discussed using numbers. Currently the practice is different, to put it mildly. From within the IOF structures it was impossible to have meaningful discussions. That's why I started my blog after I left.

If you are interested in the performance of the Live platform, you may read the PR article about it:

It is my note that few of the positive things mentioned have anything to do with the Live platform, but more about TV broadcast, and online activity in general like sharing IOF posts. The "3000 watching the stream" does not match with the numbers I remember seeing on-screen that peaked around 1000. (Anybody saw different numbers??) So yes, I agree, it would be great to have a report, numbers,... on what IOF really achieved so far with IT LIVE platform - both the current one and the previous one.
Jul 11, 2017 6:07 PM # 
Insolvency, bankruptcy, and Orienta

Trying to clarify some basic financial concepts through the situation of Orienta, an artist in her mid 50s. She is trying to switch from a cheap and cheerful lifestyle to a fourfold more expensive one at the detriment of her finances. We have a look at what insolvency and technical bankruptcy would mean for her.
Jul 12, 2017 8:32 AM # 
Heh. Heh.
BTW if anyone is interested in that famous "art festival organised every 4 year" look at another "artist" wanting to get in. Dancesport is on that road (or thinks it is). There used to be 2 world organisations, one professional, one amateur, until about 10 or so years ago. Then, one of them decided to want to become part of the Olympics. It started to change rules - to what it sees as becoming more aligned to what the Olympic dreams require. Now, there are about 6 world organisations (I lost count), including competing "world championships", competitors and officials are basically only going to limited number of events, there is no single event where all the best are competing together, and by now, even the dances that are called the same, look quite different in the different organisations. The one thing that isn't a mess, is the financial situation of one organisation which is very strong (but then it was even when it started the process). Or at least that's what it looks like, I haven't checked the balances/cash flow closely.
Jul 12, 2017 11:05 PM # 
Yes, that is a very good point I also plan to write about. The money that is the main objective in the wild goose chase for Olympic participation may shake up things quite a bit. Imagine SkiO getting $1m-$2m sgrant from the IOC while current IOF budget is below $1m. Difficult to imagine no strain in the system. The good thing is that it is very very unlikely.
Jul 13, 2017 9:55 AM # 
The point is not what money would do to the organisation once the sport is in the Olympics. The point is what the PROMISE of a potential of that money (or raised profile of the sport in many ways) does to the sport that is chasing it - almost in all cases with absolutely no hope of getting in (and for many reasons it is extremely unlikely that ANY new sport gets in, the very few that might, are all waaay ahead in the long queue of sports federations wanting participation status).
Jul 13, 2017 11:14 AM # 
The Olympics do seem to allow a trickle of new sports, but they seem to be ones that the young like to watch, like snowboarding. America's national Olympic committee did pay for several nice maps near its national Olympic training center, which are still used frequently. Getting in the Olympics does seem unlikely though.
Jul 13, 2017 8:28 PM # 
I have always been under the impression that Ski-O was (much) more likely to be a demonstration sport in the Winter Olympics, than foot-O in the Summer Olympics.
Jul 13, 2017 8:52 PM # 
Supposedly, if ski o gets in, it will immediately be a full medal sport, because it had been a demonstration sport half a century ago. But I'm not sure whether that story is true. The question is whether ski o is thrilling enough, like extreme sports. (Extreme ski o? Might be worth a try if someone really does want Olympic inclusion. Otherwise give it up.)
Jul 14, 2017 3:36 AM # 
There's no such thing as demonstration sports any more (hasn't been since the 1980s, in fact). However, host cities are going to be allowed to select a small number (not sure how many) of medal sports. No doubt they'll do this with at least half an eye to the home country's medal prospects - with Paris seeming likely to get 2024, perhaps it would have been in our interests for Thierry still to be around....(One thing that does work in our favour here is that by the standards of Olympic sports, our infrastructure is dirt-cheap).

I still think Olympic inclusion is a long shot, but with the changes that have been made at the IOC level, it's perhaps a 10% longshot rather than a 5% longshot. (I'm also of the view that a lot of the things that are being done towards making a bid for the Olympics, like making the sport more spectator- and viewer-friendly, are broadly in our interests whether the Olympics existed or not).

The reason why ski-O was mentioned a fair bit some years back was that at the time, unlike the Summer Games which was trying to control its size, the Winter Games were actively looking for new events - the logic being that 2 weeks is the realistic minimum length for the Games because that's how long it takes to play an ice hockey tournament (although if that's the consideration, I'm not sure why they can't start group-stage matches before the opening ceremony, as football does for the Summer Games?), but there wasn't really enough other content to fill 2 weeks. I'm not sure if this is still the case.
Jul 14, 2017 7:03 AM # 
I would say 10% longshot is too optimistic. Beside new sports for Tokyo 2020 also most of the sports which are already in preparing changes in disciplines to fit within IOC agenda and TV youth viewership. We can't gain any advantage over the other sports just because we already have mix-relay.


"Plans call for staging the skateboarding and sports climbing events in temporary venues installed in urban settings, marking a historic step in bringing the Games to young people and reflecting the trend of urbanisation of sport."

I think the security issues have become too big and important aspects of the Olympics that they would not let people running around the city. Whatever we do, we all know that temporary venue could be the only chance to have at least 1% long-term shot. This calls for -> Maze orienteering on Stadium. I'm not interested in such "simplification and urbanisation of our sport" and that is the reason why we need to fix open IOF directions for this on-going Olympic process. I would rather see that IOF GA vote on this question so we can put this idea from the table and that we all know that Stadium orienteering is not a possible direction for officials. If we don't vote then the question is open and officials will have no problem in the future to throw more money into promotion and to test new best "olympic discipline".
Jul 14, 2017 5:45 PM # 
Big custom-planted corn maze. Just sayin'...
Jul 14, 2017 9:05 PM # 
The online coverage of major orienteering events has lots of interest to orienteers. To make it of interest to the public, I think that it needs a few more things:

- head cam in addition to live GPS track, so that the viewer can see what it looks like. Orienteers can imagine this quite easily, less so the public. Perhaps also 3D graphics depicting the terrain.

- pre recorded segments discussing the various routes on the long legs, with video of someone doing sections of each route, or 3D graphics to better let the viewer see what the terrain is like and what the choices are. Also segments discussing the terrain, and the challenges it poses. Maybe segments discussing the choice of shoe, and its impact on running on rock, logs, moss, etc. And of course personal background segments (human interest).

- Lots more camera coverage, such drones, fixed cameras, hand held chase cams, etc.

- Show the races head to head, to some degree. For instance, overlay the position of top competitors at thae same time in their race atop the map and track of the current competitor.

- Shots of blood and gore. Maybe competitors splashing through muddy marshes would suffice. Or racing downhill at great speed.

One can argue about whether appealing to the great unwashed is a good thing, but if that's the desire (and Olympics are heavily centered around appeal to the masses, as is much television), then I suspect that such things are needed.
Jul 15, 2017 12:28 AM # 
I'm all for new forms of orienteering and have embraced rogaining, MTBO, PWT, Orientshow etc with interest, and local experimentation. The terms "long distance" and "sprint" could be limiting our thinking to races between 12-100 minutes, there are lots of fun possibilities both above and below that.

But I think that Sandor's point is that in pursuing some of these, our international body is being reckless with the money at its disposal. Especially when there are signs that some of our highest level events are not as technically sound as they should be. Elsewhere on AP are suggestions that a JWOC race this week might have been affected by unmapped tracking caused by the Fin5 public event. We could debate whether these are occasional and understandable faults, or whether the QA side of the sport is under-resourced.
Jul 15, 2017 7:41 AM # 
I will make a positive vote for eventor. It makes a big difference to the challenges organising events. Positive in my opinion and experience.
Jul 15, 2017 8:13 AM # 
I think the wider point is, for a large organisation the question should be having a (realistic) vision of where the sport is headed, and then figure out what needs to be done to get there, then make sure there is sufficient funding to walk through that road.

If an organisation's sole target is to get to the Olympics (I am not saying that is the case with IOF, but I know it was the case with one organisation in DanceSport which is why I referred to it), then it will take all action and focus all money on that. If that goal is not achievable, then not only all the money and effort is wasted, AND the sport is transformed to something different for no good reason, but at the same time the opportunity to shape it to something that would be better for the sport is lost.

So it is a question of both the direction we are travelling and whether the way we do it is appropriate, in my mind. If (if) the IOF is trying to take us to somewhere where we can not ever go, and go bankrupt at the same time, we both change the sport in ways that may harm the sport itself and lose the governing body at the same time. There could be some positive changes as side effects, but who says we could not get those positive changes as well (and much more) whilst targeting more realistic goals and spending money sensibly? Wasting money and effort on something you can not get diverts that money and effort from something else that could be a good target instead.

With regards to Liveorienteering - I don't think anyone argues that live coverage is a bad thing. I think the question is, is it value for money and is the way it is packaged as a paid service a viable/appropriate proposition? I.e. the JWOC this week is free (although granted that the video coverage is far less professional than the WOC was), as opposed to the WOC which was paid, but don't forget that the only thing you effectively had to pay for was to actually watch it live - all the 3 components of the service (video, GPS, results) became freely available very shortly after the event was finished - and in some countries freely available through TV coverage anyway. Hence - is this a viable product as a paid service? If not, where are we expecting to recover the investment (e.g. TV licenses)? Is THAT realistic? If not, is it within the means of the IOF to pay for the development and upkeep of that service?
Jul 15, 2017 9:18 AM # 
Olympics is a dead duck..why be part of it?
Jul 15, 2017 2:33 PM # 
There are more potential options nowadays than in the past:

1) Olympics and/or TV, appealing to a mass audience
2) something like live orienteering, targeted at a subset of the public
3) something like live orienteering, targeted at orienteers
4) a quiet, obscure sport

Decades ago, the options were mostly 1 or 4. Our current status is 3. Pursuing 1 is still possible (though it's a big climb to achieve mass appeal in more than a few countries, and probably a big climb past that to Olympics), but 2 is another option, probably achievable sooner than 1. Making orienteering intelligible and compelling to a mass audience that doesn't (yet) know the sport much is a lot of work. But finding some subset of the public that loves maps, navigation, adventure racing, rogaine, puzzles, and/or running through forest (or at least watching that) seems much more feasible in today's internet marketing world. Find and appeal to a large enough such audience (say, a hundred thousand worldwide), and live orienteering (enhanced to speak to such an audience) might manage to self support via advertising, without subscription fees. And that audience might attract a little more sponsorship outside the top countries, and for the IOF. I'm not saying that orienteering should pursue 1, 2, 3 or 4, but it's a question worth asking, especially if pursuing 1 is proving too costly and too far from fruition, and 3 is proving hard to achieve at adequate quality with fees that the market will bear.
Jul 15, 2017 10:05 PM # 
Neil, are you referring to "Australian eventor" or "IOF eventor"?

I have to admit that I am yet to talk to an organiser of international events who was positive about "IOF eventor" on balance. The IOF implementation is a clumsy system in many aspects with little net benefit to the organisers.
Jul 16, 2017 1:57 AM # 
Yes, Australian.
Jul 16, 2017 6:53 AM # 
As a competitor who has had to register for both IOF Eventor and Australian Eventor, I found both an annoying extra step with no benefits, and ANOTHER bloody username and password. Why a 70-yo needs to be in IOF Eventor is beyond me.
Jul 16, 2017 7:54 AM # 
Because it will be used for WMOC entry from now on?
Jul 16, 2017 8:21 AM # 
Uncle JiM:
I use the same user name for both, as well as Swedish and Norwegian Eventor :)
Jul 16, 2017 8:25 AM # 
I love eventor(Aust)It is easy to enter and pay for events and easy access to results afterwards. I just wish all states used it to list their events. Like all technology one has to learn how to use it!
Jul 16, 2017 8:33 AM # 
Which (Aust) states don't use it to list their events?
Jul 16, 2017 8:52 AM # 
Uncle JiM:
I think all states list there events, but some dont use it for Results
Jul 16, 2017 9:33 AM # 
Not many now - as far as I know, just ACT street events, and local club events run by regional clubs in a few states. Other ACT events and Melbourne park/street have mostly come on board this year.
Jul 16, 2017 9:37 AM # 
With regards to Eventor, although I use it very little and so don't feel qualified to comment on it too much specifically, I can talk more generically on the use, problems and coordination of entry/results etc. systems more generally.

I can see the same generic problems that would present themselves here as in most other sports, namely the reality that many national federations, indeed clubs and independent organisations have their own implementations that they need for maintaining records of athletes, facilitating event entries and related purchases and logistics (i.e. buying merchandise, booking accomodation, feeding the event management systems with data or reverse for results, calculating rankings, notifying entries and officials, generating statistics for evaluation etc. etc.)

The problem here is that there will never be a system that can have all the functions implemented that is needed by every stakeholder, nor should it all be done by one system, because it would be a monster and crazy expensive to develop and maintain. Then the question is where do you draw the boundary and how to align/synchronise data interfaces, and as these systems take many shapes and forms, with different spheres of influence and coverage (some organisations choose to develop their own, others utilise a commercial offering and co-exist etc.). There are further complications when you want to synchronise - which is the system of master record (and you need consensus on this because you can't say it's the national federation's database in one case, but the international federation's database in another, and there are arguments for both which will be good for some federations but bad for another), what about internationalisation (e.g. cyrillic character based names in Russia vs mandarin characters in China etc) and how the data looks like once sychronised, etc.

And then, we haven't even been talking about how it looks to the individual athletes, as you mention, maintaining data in multiple systems etc.

This is an incredibly difficult topic and I have yet to see this work - even with federations with much more money it costs an awful lot and it isn't really about the single system the international federation uses (that should, in my view, be more one of the outcomes than the focus area), more about the federated data structure and policies debated and implemented across the landscape. Looking at IOF Eventor itself may only show the symptoms but should not be the root cause or the solution itself. I have no idea if there is/was work in the IOF around these things I mention, I suspect there is (haven't looked into the topic here, although have been working on this in other sports). A lot of this work as can be seen from the comment above would probably be incredibly boring for an average athlete and ideally invisible (although some of the policy decisions may filter down as painful but sometimes necessary admin work, such as when eliminating multiple master systems for athlete records for consistency).
Jul 16, 2017 9:38 AM # 
Back to the original topic, IOF have written to all member federations this week advising of their revised 2017 budget, with significant cuts to both forecast income and expenditure (the latter mostly a EUR 95,000 reduction in staff costs), and a revised forecast surplus of around EUR 10,000. Also of interest to some here will be that the online WOC coverage generated EUR 30,600 in revenue (compared with EUR 19,700 last year). It probably helped that word got around that, after the first day, the coverage mostly actually worked this year.
Jul 16, 2017 9:47 AM # 
Good signs, financially. Sounds like the right direction, from this limited info. Regarding WOC coverage, maybe interest (and revenue) continues to go up. If the coverage works, then I may get it next year. I dislike paying to get frustrated, but would be interested in following WOC.
Jul 18, 2017 6:56 PM # 
The IOF has published the 2016 financial report. This is a quick look analysis.

The numbers are shocking. 2016 losses were much larger than thought in January 2017. At the end of 2016 less than 2 weeks net cash reserves left. A small negative variance (far smaller than experienced in previous years!) may push the IOF over the edge.

Member federations may need to start to warm up to the idea of a cash call, say an extraordinary annual membership fee.
Jul 24, 2017 5:49 PM # 
New post:

The World Games – “the highest profile event for sports not in the Olympic Games” according to the IOF Newsletter – have started on 20 July.

Chances are that you did not hear about The World Games from other sources. It is not carried by mainstream media. Yet, the IOF spends on it well above its (our!) means in the name of the "Olympic Dream". In this post we look at the financials, in the next one at the reality of using The World Games as a stepping stone for the Olympics.
Jul 25, 2017 2:27 AM # 
The highest profile games not to have a profile...
Jul 25, 2017 7:15 PM # 
Leho Haldna, the President of the IOF, says that
"Our athletes and federations have to realise that the road to the Olympics is via The World Games, and The World Games are the highest level multi-sport event recognised by IOC where orienteering is on the programme."

Yet, only 1 of the 6 new sports selected for the permanent program after 2000 participated in The World Games, and only 2 of the 5 sports selected only for Tokyo 2020 may claim that their participation in The World Games may have had an impact on their selection. More details in the new blog post.
Jul 25, 2017 9:07 PM # 
In some countries sports officials take World Games seriously. I know the Ukrainian federation got more money from the government after Volynska's bronze in 2013. Also, there are posters with World Games participants, including orienteers, in Kiev subway, so there is extra publicity for orienteering. This Facebook post also mentions TV broadcasts. So Olympics or not, participation is beneficial in some ways.
Jul 25, 2017 11:12 PM # 
Sandor I am following your researches with interest. But the use of that very funny Hitler parody doesn't support your thesis. It illustrates conservative reaction against a number of changes in the sport which have gained acceptance and enjoyment.
Jul 26, 2017 6:03 AM # 
I dont know how other federations restructure their elite events pyramid but having European / regional champs biannually and world champs each year doesn't help to make WG as a prime elite event. Also financial and promotional aspects should be more clear so athletes, federations and fans know what are the advantages for the sport beside being part of WG. IOF and IWGA business relationship is also important for federations and it should be presented more clearly. Relationship between IOC, organizer and federations at Olympics is one of the main issue each 4 years.
Jul 26, 2017 8:58 AM # 
Any publicity is good. But Sandor's point is mainly about allocation and flow of resources. It seems IOF spends a lot of money on WG, whereas it expects to get money from the Olympics.

It brings to mind "vanity publishing" where authors who can't get a book deal pay the company. The two publishing models may look the same, even a continuum between them. But one benefits the author, the other exploits them. Is WG the vanity-publishing equivalent of the Olympics? Which makes us look like a real sport: WG, or Oringen - also on this week but stripped of its World Cup status due to the clash?

@gruver The alternate pro-innovation historical view...
Jul 26, 2017 9:30 AM # 
Publicity isn't very good if it is the same standard as yesterday's TV coverage (sprint distance). It did improve - the coverage of the men was much better than the women - but it was still pretty lousy. If it was difficult to follow even for 'real' orienteers, then how can the public be expected to follow it? WOC coverage was much better I think. Radio times working would help a lot - especially the on screen ones.

Middle seems to be a bit better - at least they film the right people at the right time, even if the radio times still aren't working perfectly. Nice forest shots, better use of tracking (almost useless in sprint at the best of times anyway)/

It is also a bit of a shame that the live results and tracking seem to be 30-60s ahead of the TV picture!
Jul 26, 2017 9:48 AM # 
Michael, one of the key questions (never really discussed) is whether urban sprint will be a colourful addition on the palette of orienteering besides traditional in-forest races, or will become the focal event at the expense of everything else.

If you prefer: was T20 played in pyjamas intended to be a colourful addition to test match series, or to take over everything completely at the expense of the death of a gentleman? (for the ones, who have no clue what lbw is, I am talking about the complete transformation in the past 10 years of international cricket, the second most popular sport in the world with over 2bn fans)

My point to be expanded later, is that the IOF Council and GA are making choices and putting the sport on a course with serious consequences in every aspect. But neither the choices, nor the consequences discussed, and probably few are really aware of what is going on, while the IOF President is talking about "our common goal".
Jul 26, 2017 11:00 AM # 
If IOF really want from us to understand the current international status of orienteering & "our common goal" then they need to do their part first. Strategic directions are more like a common vision and not goals. Activity plan is more to the point but do we really measure the RIGHT things and looking into the right information which define professional sport? When someone mention a "goal" I expect that there are a clear KPIs and annual report with figures so people can see and read what was the result of all the talks and decisions made by IOF. IOF is collecting information from federations and I asked before why we can't have those numbers summarized and publicly presented. A simple question: How many registered orienteers are in the world? Developing our own analytics would help us all to see where to spent money and manpower and to get a decent results.
Jul 26, 2017 12:16 PM # 
What makes you think that the IOF >really< want people to understand the current international status of orienteering, and not just follow the direction set?
Jul 26, 2017 2:02 PM # 
Good question!
This direction set was approved by GA so it is naturally that administration is following them. I just wanted to say that strategic directions are not so important and are overvalued by IOF officials. Take a look into the last report about strategic directions and you will probably see that we achieved a huge improvement in the field of "world sporting stage" with WG in 2013 and we will probably achieve the same with the WG 2017. I'm talking that if they want that we understand what they are talking about they need to develop a clearer goals and KPIs. I think most federations are willing to follow if the goals, implementations and comunication of the results are more clear.
Jul 26, 2017 5:54 PM # 
The GA approved the proposal submitted by the Council. The GA almost always approves proposals made by the Council. (In fact, I cannot recall any rejected Council proposals right now) Of course, that does not mean that the Council can fulfill the task. For example, the Council has missed the budget target set by the Council (and approved by the GA with no modification) - 9 years in a row.

Which is the "latest report on strategic directions" that you are referring to?
Jul 26, 2017 6:41 PM # 
To have a strategic direction, you should have a extensive consultation with the bases as well as the top. This is not the case (even if there are signs of a thaw)
In my opinion, now, we are improvising at all levels.
The big problem is that those at the head of IOF even if they improvise, want to impose.
Jul 26, 2017 7:18 PM # 
I notice that the next World Games is scheduled for Birmingham Alabama USA in 2021. Will orienteering be included? (Couldn't figure out from the WG website, though of course it lists orienteering as a WG sport.)
Jul 26, 2017 7:36 PM # 
I can't find the report but I remembered that I have seen a simple report (red, yellow, green dots) about the results of strategic direction for 2016-2012.

I'm now reading this and I see that there is a push to make KPIs and measurable goals. Very good way forward.
- KPI introduced by IOF and we actively measure development worldwide. First results in 2018.
- Detailed and spesific Goals are to be set in the Activity Plans (2 years period)
- Assessment on goals and achievements should be done every second year at the GA.
Jul 26, 2017 7:45 PM # 
Yes, orienteering will be in the 2021 World Games in Alabama.
Jul 26, 2017 7:55 PM # 
I am afraid that the management by slides approach does not really work for complex tasks like running a sport federation, as opposed routine manufacturing and service operations.

1) difficult to find KPIs that are really reflect the situation
2) many ad-hoc decisions are imposed even if they contradict the goals (as Marian wrote above)
3) nothing happens when KPIs are missed (see budget bottom line missed 9 years in a row)

If you find the presentation, I'll be happy to contrast it with my observations.
Jul 26, 2017 8:00 PM # 
We just visited Wroclaw on a road trip through Scandinavia and Eastern Europe and are now in Czech at the Bohemian 5 Day.

In Wroclaw there was lots of posters and promotions of the Word Games but we had no idea it was on until we arrived in the city.

Nothing on our AP accounts or Facebook so a pleasant surprise to know we were in the WG City but we had to move on so missed the City Sprint.

Agree that WG does not do much for the profile of Orienteering
Jul 26, 2017 11:52 PM # 
New post on World Games compromises: A multi-sport event is always full of compromises. One day a leftover large screen shows the starters the map and route choices; the other day in the Olympic TV schedule the wakeboard semi-finals beat the Sprint Relay final, the most dynamic, and TV and Olympic friendly of all possible orienteering formats.

On our way to the Olympics.
Jul 27, 2017 10:45 AM # 
The World Games – what shall we call this?

I am lost for words. I really feel for poor Isia, the first runner of the French team on today’s Sprint Relay. I hope her injuries are not too bad, and she was lucky enough to avoid serious consequences of a situation that could have ended in a very, very bad way.

When all the top management talk is about high flying ambitions, attractiveness, TV production, and dignified ceremonies just like in the Olympics – it focuses the mind of organisers in one way. When there is also talk about athletes’ safety, it helps tremendously to avoid mishaps like the one we saw today.

I hate to write about this today.
Jul 27, 2017 11:31 AM # 
I saw this during the coverage and was really taken aback. Feeling for poor Isia (I don't know her), it looked horrible on the coverage.

I agree that it was something that should have been avoided, or at least foreseen. I was upset that as it happened, there was no sign also of anyone helping her - checking if she was OK for example. I was thinking - maybe it was unavoidable that the runners had to run through those bollards, but then surely this hazard was known and they would have been alerted to this up front? So I now checked and it is not mentioned in Bulletin 4, nor in the material for the team officials meeting. The organisers did request "Please keep the silence in WCK Pergola building, there will be Bilard event" (I assume they meant billiards), which is obviously a more important message than athlete safety??

Given that this hazard was in an obvious place, no helpers nearby in case something happened, no warning about the hazard, no taping or visual warning signs on the hazard itself, makes me think this wasn't assessed as a risk...

I just hope Isia isn't seriously hurt and recovers quickly.
Jul 27, 2017 12:36 PM # 
I'm sure we all hope she'll be fine, and she did manage to complete the course.

But, however much we might like to beat up on IOF, once we start looking for other people to blame when someone runs into a bollard, the sport is truly ****ed.
Jul 27, 2017 1:12 PM # 
Yeah, I am with Graeme on this one. It is really sad what happened, and it was quite painful to watch, but putting the blame on the organizers for this is a bit of a stretch. Not running into things while reading a map at full speed is definitely a part of our sport.
Jul 27, 2017 1:38 PM # 
Generally speaking, I agree.
If these bollards were a bit further into the course, I would just have felt sorry for her.

I do think however that so soon after the start where the group was clearly going to be tightly bunched together, mostly with heads down looking at the map, this was a hazard that should have been thought of. I don't think this is IOF, by the way, but the organiser/course planner should have thought of this at least to the degree of mentioning it as a hazard in the instructions.

I can't remember which, but I think last years national relay champs there was an approx 1m deep gully that needed to be crossed by the mass start runners about 100m after the start, and that was clearly noted as a hazard in the final instructions, so everyone knew.

On balance for example whilst a few competitors fell slipping on the stones in the zoo, I would expect that to be fully within the bounds of an orienteering race. It rained. They were slippery surfaces. Comes with the sport.
Jul 27, 2017 2:58 PM # 
Events that this level have IOF advisors to think about this kind of thing that the normal punters think about. If she'd been seriously hurt it could have been a PR disaster. It would have been very easy to have a Tour de France style marshal with a flag in front of the bollards. There were two gormless spectators next to her, one of them could have done it (or at the very least helped her out!)
Jul 27, 2017 4:02 PM # 
I couldn't disagree with Graeme and Boris more.

We all understand that this is an 'adventure sport' and we 'take part at our own risk', and our own health is inherently our own responsibility, however, this situation clearly maximised the danger to the runners and could have been easily avoided had the SEA done their job properly (which from my experience has never happened).

You imply that this is Basset's fault and not the organisers. However, I would argue that at the start of a sprint relay race the pace is extremely high, the athletes have only just started to read the map to understand the complex route-choices so are paying a lot of attention to that, they are also running extremely close together, with Basset not at the front with a clear view of terrain in front of her. All it takes is her to be looking at her map and the runner in front of her to dive out of the way at the last minute and you have an accident. This was as accident waiting to hapen, and to blame her is ridiculous. What do you suggest she do? Not look at her map, or not run in the pack? The onus is squarely with the organisers for this one (not the IOF directly, but someone has an axe to grind, and I fully support them with that). And I think a court might just agree. We should ask the PWT wha.... oh, wait, we can't.

If I were France, I'd be genuinely considering taking things further.
Jul 27, 2017 4:08 PM # 
+1 Nixon, sadly
Jul 27, 2017 8:09 PM # 
Common sense, and anticipating what can go wrong, at the margin, results in a production with fewer chances for problems. And isn't that what any event organizer would want? For a real sport?
Jul 27, 2017 9:59 PM # 
While there may be desire to blame someone(s), when bringing in international sprint relays was being discussed, the view was expressed that a serious incident was only a matter of time.
Jul 27, 2017 10:11 PM # 
Those criticising the organisers or the IOF: honestly, are you absolutely sure you would have thought about this situation and prevented it if you were organising or controlling the event? This is not a standard situation and mass start urban events are somewhat rare so nobody has much experience organising them. Now everybody has paid attention and hopefully something like this will be less likely to happen in the future. The organisers have done many things right and just one seriously wrong and I am sure they feel bad about it - have a bit of mercy.

And please keep in mind that worse things have happened in supposedly more "serious" sports and events - remember the luge fatality in the Vancouver Olympics?
Jul 27, 2017 11:05 PM # 
Whether or not it could have been foreseen, it seems worth future organizers looking out for significant hazards near such a mass start, and mentioning them or changing the logistics to avoid them. As Nixon pointed out, in a mass start of a high level event, the competitors are in a tight pack running fast reading their maps. Seeing bollards or such must be particularly hard, given the combination of density and high speed, plus need to read the map. Elsewhere in the event, it's probably not feasible to eliminate (or even list) such hazards. The area of a mass start seems a particular situation.
Jul 28, 2017 8:07 AM # 
It is difficult to miss this if you devote just a bit of time and mindshare to safety.

A non-standard situation is not an excuse. High level organisers and event advisers shall realize when they face a non-standard situation - and pay extra attention to what may happen, before it happens!

Of course, this is a question of mindset. When all the talk in top management is about ceremonies, protocol, and of course Olympics, that focuses the mind in one way. Almost all Council minutes since 2010 deal with the Olympics. In 7 years "safety" is mentioned only on one occasion as a side point.
Jul 28, 2017 9:36 AM # 
Yes, at the very start of a race the runners must read the map and can't pay such attention to footing. But once they've figured the route to #1, they're into regular sprint mode. Standard urban furniture some 200m from the start and after the first route-choice decision is the runner's look out.
The PWT incident was a lot more serious and non-standard. I don't know the details, so maybe you're right that it was a good thing they got ****ed. Personally, I think it was a shame.
Jul 28, 2017 10:51 AM # 
It is sad that the only discussion is about why EA or SEA didnt do his/her job. Each sport has its own problems and the professional one has a better learning curve. Personally I think we have a problem with the empowerment out of the IOF Council. Everything need to be controlled and approved by them. Why FOC can't have a voice in such situations. e.g. In my eyes IOF fail is here because they are not able to communicate with the media, athletes, federations, fans when something out of the box happen. Same with SEA reports, complaints and jury decisions for elite events.

It is a risk that we get even more negative comments but on the other hand we can create a system where more people would understand that the only reason to open the processes is to develop and innovate them. To do this step is a Council job. We need an organization where responsible commisions can innitate a prototype projects without a Council permision and to test them. When people make their best then Council could make a political decision what to do with them.
Jul 28, 2017 12:01 PM # 
It was 10-15m from the map start flag. They just started to reconcile the terrain with the map. They could not see the terrain earlier on the 200m run out. The direction they had to tackle the row of bollards was at a very narrow angle (look the video and the picture on the blog). The pack was tight, as expected. Nothing that one may call a regular sprint mode.
Jul 28, 2017 12:12 PM # 
Actually, I think the issue of the SEA-role is crucial.

The IOF deficit isn't so huge on the scale of a big event or even big O-club. The desired IOF budget is not unreasonable for an organisation running an international sport. But O-events are *only* profitable on the back of huge volunteer input. The big shake-up in WOC, and associated funding problems, isn't due to anything sporting, its simply that nobody was willing to volunteer to work with the IOF.

The SEA is the interface between IOF and the volunteers. Between the people who need the money and those who can generate it. Nothing puts volunteers off more effectively than being told what to do by some pompous incompetent who subsequently takes no responsibility for their mistakes.
Jul 28, 2017 6:10 PM # 

"Nothing puts volunteers off more effectively than being told what to do by some pompous incompetent who subsequently takes no responsibility for their mistakes"

Now there is something we can agree on!!!
Jul 29, 2017 1:58 PM # 
I've got to say that after reading Graeme's points on Nopesport on the WG incident, I would like to slightly revise my views. (I can't comment there, the admin seems to have abandoned the platform and my registration request is unattended for well over a year now - not that it would matter much but from time to time it would be more useful to reply there.)

Graeme makes the point that the athletes had all the run-out funnel to spread out, read their maps and prepare for the terrain, also that the first routechoice point has been passed when the incident happened. I have reviewed the video again as well as the map, and Graeme has a point.
I still think that there should have been at least some kind of a warning issued about the safety hazard, especially since the map does not mark something that in reality did affect the runner's ability to spread out or even take the routechoice to their right. Specifically, there was a barrier parallel to the direction the runners were coming from on their right, and only a short strip where there were bollards where they could join the road surface. They actually came at it at a narrow angle which made it more likely that a bollard was going to be in their way, and the barrier almost lead them into the bollard. They could really not consider the barrier based on the map since it wasn't on it - in fact, looking on Google Maps streetview, obviously an earlier shot of the same area it shows bollards all the way, where there currently the barrier is. The accident actually happened about 5s after they passed the start kite, most of that 5s they were actually running next to the barrier without a good chance to either turn right for the other routechoice (if they missed the 1s window where they could have turned right exactly at the start flag).

That said, they did have the chance to make their mind up about the first part of their course, made their initial routechoice decision and had the opportunity to choose to look up to see where they are going.

Obviously what happened at this point (as probably is a choice that most runners made or would be making) is to take the opportunity to use what on the map looked like a lot of dead running initially to try and read ahead and make their mind up about the choices they had to make later on in the zoo. So their heads were looking down not to initially try and make sense of the map, fold it etc. but planning ahead, not expecting a hazard.

So on balance and after consideration like I mentioned above I still think the runners should have been alerted to the hazard but I don't think any more that it was as egregious as it looked to me initially.
Jul 31, 2017 9:29 PM # 
New blog post:

The number of Council meetings since 2010 where ceremonies were discussed was almost two times higher than the combined number of meetings where safety, accidents, injuries, athletes health and wellbeing, or competition fairness was mentioned. The number of times Olympics was mentioned in substance was 5 times higher.

This appears to be in stark contrast with the Ethical Principles of the IOF declared in the IOF Code of Ethics: “In pursuing the sport’s goals, the governance of Orienteering shall be mindful of the physical and psychological wellbeing of its athletes.”

More details in the new post.
Aug 1, 2017 12:54 AM # 
In part, that's because a lot of the work dealing with those items is done in the Commissions (at least for foot, and I assume it's the same for MTBO).
Aug 1, 2017 7:10 PM # 
@ blairtrewin; Or in part, they prefer not to talk about these little things (or even ignore or hide them) to not stain this wonderful dream. Because no matter how many sailors(matelots) are thrown overboard, Captain Ahab must hunt Moby Dick.

Stalas go ahead! Perhaps others who know what it is rotten to our capitains, will speak.

Personally, I recently had a strange experience in one of the new conquests of IOF; Egypt.

If in the past I have admitted that difficulties communication can create misunderstandings, now I was shocked how an EA can distort or hide reality.

Why?!? Captain Ahab must hunt Moby Dick !!
Or maybe Ishmael (The EA in Egypt) has dreams to become a new Captain...

I'll probably come back with some details in another thread.
Aug 1, 2017 9:16 PM # 
It is not the Board who should solve Health, Safety & Environment related questions.
But, if the Board never talks about with Health, Safety & Environment related questions, they will not get the required attention at lower levels.

What we see is that the Council in essence never deals with questions of safety, accidents, injuries, athletes health and wellbeing, or even fairness. This ignorance is unavoidably impacts the whole sport.
Sep 14, 2017 4:12 PM # 
New blogpost after some planned and unplanned delay.

Back to finances after talking to Council members over the past weeks. Had to realize that they did not understand the severity of the financial situation.

Key points to understand:
- The net cash position of the IOF is practically zero. In simple terms: there is substantial money on the bank account only because there are substantial unpaid invoices.
- The IOF has started to accumulate serious debt. Short term debt has jumped almost ninefold from €29,000 to €252,000 in one year from end 2015 to end 2016.
Oct 2, 2017 2:05 PM # 
New blogpost:

As discussed last time, IOF finances are on a knife edge. Net cash reserves are close to zero level, and debt has jumped almost ninefold from €29,000 to €252,000 in one year from end 2015 to end 2016.

But that was not always so. A decade ago the IOF had sufficient net cash reserves to cover around half a year’s operations. Since then the combined effect of rising expenses (3 fold in 10 years!) and evaporating reserves (over 80% lost since end 2008) has resulted in the current situation.

Financial stability has been lost for many years to come. A serious revision of expense structure and many years of reserve building required to regain the stability the IOF enjoyed a decade ago. But that is unlikely to be delivered by a leadership involved in losing that stability.
Oct 10, 2017 1:16 AM # 
New blogpost:

I kept searching for reasons why the IOF lost its financial stability. In this post you may find some interesting details.

The IOF Council has missed the budget target every year since 2009. It would take a miracle to achieve the targets for 2017 and 2018. That makes 10 years of missed targets. 10 years of continuous underperformance.

It is unlikely that this was due to lack of skills: the leading figures of the IOF during this period (Ake, Brian and Leho) all prided themselves with business background.
Looking at recent events one may get a feeling that the IOF leadership just did not care about the budget approved by the GA, hence they could not possibly deliver it:
- it seems that the IOF has several versions of the "approved" budget
- the 2017 budget approved in August 2016 by the General Assembly was already modified by the Council just 2 months after presenting it to the GA
- the outcome of budget modification(s) started in October 2016 was not shared with member federations until 14 July 2017, nine days after the Presidents’ Conference in Tartu.

This gives the feeling that the IOF leadership decided to avoid any open discussion about budget modification with the member federations who should approved the IOF budget.

More details in the post.
Nov 12, 2017 6:48 AM # 
Back in action after a blissful break to continue the gruesome task of documenting the slow motion crash of the IOF.

Published an update on the unbelievable underperformance of the IOF Council based on fresh data after the Council meeting in October.
- over €500,000 is the total 10 year gap to approved budget after missing the budget every year since 2009, including the expectations for 2017 and 2018;
- over €300,000 is the total expected shortfall of the 2016-18 performance promised to the General Assembly in August 2016.

One may suspect that questions around ethics of the process may be asked when plans and reality diverge to this extent for no good reason. Will any of the member federations have the guts to raise those questions?
Nov 26, 2017 10:21 AM # 
Before going offshore (and thus offline) again for a couple of weeks, I wanted to share with you an interesting story that illustrates well both the Agency Problem in the governance of the IOF, the general lack of controls, and how budget overruns happened.

Brian, the newly elected President at the time, decided (apparently single handedly) that the IOF should become an exhibitor on the SportAccord convention in 2013. Interesting that this has become important only after Brian was elected as President. For reasons unknown, it became suddenly so important, that he did not hesitate to step over the budget approved 6 months before, apparently not seeking even Council approval.

It is an unfortunate coincidence that Brian was involved in the business of sports consultancy at the time, a business where one of the key success factors is the ability to generate conversations with various participants of the sport management society. Being an exhibitor, as opposed to a simple delegate, greatly increases these opportunities.

Unfortunately, this looks like a classic case of conflict of interest. The facts - as detailed in the post - can be interpreted in a way that the IOF has incurred extra expenses over the approved 2013 budget, based on the decision of the President, that may have benefited the business of the President
Nov 27, 2017 1:19 AM # 
Without passing judgement on the above case, I'm not at all surprised. Around here, the general awareness of "conflict of interest" is abysmally low. I've run an orienteering business for 25 years (equipment, mapping, services to the national body) and bend over backwards to avoid COI, mostly about paid vs volunteer roles. Most people look blankly at my measures. I see others seeming to blur their paid and volunteer roles.
Nov 27, 2017 1:36 AM # 
As a general comment on the subject (and not related to the above specific case, which I can't judge), given that orienteering is such a mix of volunteer and paid work, it may be a good idea for federations and clubs to adopt conflict of interest standards, as a means of agreeing expectations.
Nov 27, 2017 1:21 PM # 
Brian's expertise in sports management was a big factor in becoming IOF president, one should not discount the possibility he acted in the best interest of the sport. To me, "Conflict of interest" is secondary to whether "exhibiting on the SportAccord convention in 2013" was good for orienteering. Rather than going ad hominem against now-retired volunteers, you should look at institutional failings and how to avoid them in future.
Because I'm not getting the impression that you think getting rid of Brian Porteous was the solution to IOFs problems.
Nov 27, 2017 3:42 PM # 
Conflict of Interest standards are needed precisely because it is (or becomes) impossible to judge if a personal interest is primary or secondary to the organization's good. Declaring CoI is to avoid that question from rising in the first place, regardless of the assumed answer.
Nov 27, 2017 11:38 PM # 
In my opinion this is not classic COI if you can not prove that he made a business for himself just because of the fact he attended the SportAccord 2013. I support this approach that president has a small budget so he can decide how to spent it withouth the Council approval. In this way in real life the key person has a chance to make decision on time and for what he thinks is good for the sport. The president need to have some flexibility and if next year's SportAccord conventions were approved by the Council the idea to be there was accepted. He saw opportunity and he acted as a leader and secure a spot for Orienteering. I remembered that he also finalized a few TV contracts for WOC at the SportAccord convetions.

The real question about IOF finance is what the President/CEO/Council need to cut or modify to stay in black if they can't generate more revenues.
Dec 15, 2017 12:45 AM # 
May I suggest to review the existing data points on this subject?

According to the Council minutes Brian did not seek Council approval to overspend the 2013 (and subsequently the 2014) budget. The minutes clearly state that he simply informed the Council. There was not a hint off discussion or approval.

Brian, apparently in a singlehanded decision, overstepped the budget that was approved by the General Assembly only a few months before. The budget proposal must have been approved also by Brian, as he was a Vice President when it was proposed. Yet, it did not include expenses for an enhanced presence on the SportAccord convention. It has become urgent priority only after the election of Brian.

The fact that the cost of enhanced presence on the SportAccord convention was immediately cut after Brian left, suggests that the rest of the leadership saw limited value in it for the IOF.

Of course, these points can be connected in different ways, but some emerging pictures have an uncomfortable appearance, unfortunately.
Dec 21, 2017 1:07 PM # 
Olympic Ambitions 2024 - Talk vs Action

In their words the IOF leadership is absolutely devoted to the Olympic dream. Leho declared to work towards the inclusion of orienteering in the Olympic games. Mikko requested the ones who do not believe in the Olympic vision to leave the joint meeting of IOF volunteers.

Yet, when it comes to implementation of the Olympic vision, we can observe something that feels like a refreshingly quiet passivity that may signify a more rational approach by the IOF leadership.

Obviously, there is not much hope to get on the Paris programme, but it is much more that it was in Tokyo or will be in Los Angeles. Yet, it looks that only the French Federation is active to announce orienteering as a candidate sport. The IOF was not even represented on the meeting with the President of the Paris Organising Committee, the one to propose additional sports for 2024.

Is the Olympic ambition pushed only for internal consumption? Or IOF leadership does not want associate itself with the predictable failure of the application? Or could it be that there is so little money left that the IOF leadership quietly ignores long term activities?
Dec 25, 2017 9:52 AM # 
I have been writing about Olympic inclusion for a while - partially because chasing this objective caused - in my view - a lot of damage to another sport close to my heart - DanceSport. I have done quite a bit of research on the realities of becoming an Olympic programme sport and to be honest, I see the chances of Orienteering becoming a programme sport similarly slim to DanceSport - although for partially different reasons.

Note that the realities have very little to do with how much we love our sport and how much value we see in pursuing it to the best of our abilities. It is more to do with stepping in the shoes of the IOC and looking at it from the perspective of what the IOC wants to do with the Olympic programme and the competition there is between sports to be on the programme.

It is very much like weighing up our chances of winning an O event without looking at who has also entered the same event and what their history is, and what they are doing to win the same event. One can be very enthusiastic about running the race - but eventually, this is not what will determine the finishing order.

So let's just look at the field and the target.

First, the capacity of the Olympic games is at its limits - in fact the IOC wants to aim for smaller Olympics. Which straight away means that becoming an Olympic programme sport can really only come at an expense of existing programme sports - with a few notes on the side (the 3 "floating" one-off events, but I'll come to that in a bit). Keep in mind that these are not only all well established sports, but there are also a number of sports which have disciplines they want to add to the programme - in other words, the existing sports are not only trying to defend their position, but they are also fighting for additional inclusion/expansion of their presence within the programme. There are also sports which were in the past programme sports but were removed from the programme - they all want to get back and have more credibility than any "new" sports.

Let's then look at the "new" sports, and what is the criteria for selecting them to become a programme event (whether as part of the new core or one of the 3 new "floating" events that come in for a single Olympics). Let's just look at each of the main criteria and see how well does Orienteering fare against other competing sports in each category:

Criteria in which Orienteering does fairly well:
- Gender Equality
- Objectivity in result (not a judged discipline)
- Results are largely impacted by physical abilities (although mental sports are recognised, they are slightly lower down in the pecking order when it comes to programme sports)
- Ensuring the participation of the best athletes (there are some sports with fractured federations or several top athletes unlikely to attend the Olympic Games for various reasons e.g. money etc) - I would think it is very likely that the top Orienteers would be coming to compete

The problem with the above is that there are many sports disciplines that can make the same claims, so it is not sufficient to make Orienteering stand out.

Criteria that is arguable but other sports are likely to do better in:

- Cost of venue. Whilst Orienteering does not need its own stadium built which would be an enormous cost and could be abandoned after the Games, something the IOC wants to go away from, it has its own unique requirements. Its own venues would need to be found (good Orienteering terrain), quarantine requirements etc. and what it can not do is share a venue with another sport throughout the Olympic programme so that logistical aspects do not arise solely from a singles sport (this does not only include the cost aspect but also setting up of TV stands, sharing the production crew, transportation etc. etc. Whilst this can be argued either way, the reality is that there are a lot of sports competing to get in to the programme that can happily share venues over the period of the Games (one takes on week, the other takes the other week etc) and/or are a lot easier to produce appropriate coverage from than Orienteering.

- Global appeal: Whilst IOF does have federations worldwide, we can all agree that the bulk of quality competitiors do come from a select group of countries, and is heavily Europe-centric. Similar problems actually plague quite a few competing sports too, however. Local/regional appeal can be overcome for being selected for a specific OG (one of the 3 one-time included events) rather than becoming a core event, however this is no guarantee - for example, the Tokyo games considered and rejected locally popular sports such as Sumo and Wushu. (The ones added were more globally appealing like Karate, Baseball, Skateboarding, sports climbing...) Hence - Orienteering can claim global representation, but it is not a stand out sport in terms of that, what is more worrying is that whilst it may have some good competitors from outside Europe, the actual public interest is even less globally distributed - most people don't even know what Orienteering is, even in Europe. This is certainly not the case in a lot of alternative sports that try to make it to the Olympic programme (quite well demonstrated by the L’Équipe article example in the IOF reflections blog article).

- Contributing toward limiting the number of athletes and officials in the Games: Due to Orienteering athletes and trainers not overlapping with any other sports or events, adding the sport/discipline to the programme would mean adding all these individual to the list of people needed to be cared for. This, however, is likely to be very similar for quite a lot of other sports as well and so not really a negative in itself. However, due to the unique requirements such as mapping, timing equipment etc., Orienteering would add to the officials its own set of supporting cast as well. The only advantage really is that Orienteering (apart from the relays that are actually probably amongst the more viewer-friendly disciplines) is not a team sport so no need to cater for many people teams, which would be a requirement for some of the alternative sports.

- Promotion of clean athletes/anti-doping: Orienteering is not one where we generally recognise doping as a big issue - however as it is very much based on physical athletic capability, there is an argument that doping can be effectively used and so the controls around it are essential. The IOC does use anti-doping controls (as is indeed a requirement for all sports on the journey to become an Olympic programme sport), but it is really not a differentiator here as all sports do this. I would argue that in this aspect Orienteering is a middle-ground participant and its actions would not disqualify it from becoming a programme event, but it also is not one that would stand out with a low risk profile for the IOC.

Criteria where Orienteering is at a distinct disadvantage against most other programme hopeful sports:

- Public appeal: Let's face it, Orienteering is quite difficult to follow for the average person. Head-to-head racing in relays is about as watchable as it gets, but even then it is not a straight forward proposition for the uninitiated. Whilst there was a lot of progress made in recent years with real-time split timings/GPS tracking, running cameras, drones etc., in comparison to most other sports that are trying to become programme sports, it is at a distinct disadvantage. This is just reflected in the numbers that measure this appeal in the form of existing TV audiences, social media representation etc.

- IOC's appeal for the millenials / youth appeal of the sport: Again, not much to say here. Compared to the proposition of e-sports, or even for the high-flying excitement of BMX, skateboarding, sport climbing, etc., Orienteering just does not have the established base or youth appeal. There are many alternative running event types that appeal for youngsters that we could be exploiting in theory to build this base/image up (think spartan or obstacle races, tough mudders etc), but this is definitely not currently a forte.
Dec 25, 2017 1:17 PM # 
Just to add slightly to what Psuba wrote above, when the IOF first started a puch toward Olympics inclusion, I suggested that they were taking completely the wrong tack in terms of introducing multiple disciplines, because it made the package too big to stand a chance. Instead, I thought that a better idea would be to present a single event, a mass-start, mixed gender relay, probably with the final leg being a women's leg. Orienteering would take place on a single day, and the whole thing would take only a couple of hours. That would be a foot in the door, and if it turned out to have appeal, maybe individual events could happen later. Insisting from the start on Sprint, Middle, Long with interval starts will never go anywhere. (Not that it matters to me.) With GPS tracking, I think a relay could be fairly watchable for the public. The Men's Middle and Women's Relay from the WOC in France were pretty cool. And it's pretty easy to demo to people using RouteGadget. Then you add in some drone footage of the start, and a few strategic cameras in the woods...
Dec 25, 2017 2:20 PM # 
What can we learn from x-country? It is the closest sport to orienteering and has its own problems. Is there any news what IAAF has done or is doing?

"Maybe running over a bit of snow and ice would be good, we might then even see x-country included in the winter Olympics."
Dec 25, 2017 2:47 PM # 
Actually, that is a good point. Becoming a programme sport in the Winter Games (i.e. Ski Orienteering) is possibly more realistic because of the expansion of the programme and the less fierce competitions amongst sports. Paralympics (Trail-O) is possibly also there, although I suspect the non-physical aspect of Trail-O (para discipline) does not make it so appealing for the IOF.

I suspect though that getting Ski-O to the Winter Games programme is not the headline target most people have in mind when they talk about Orienteering becoming a programme sport in the Olympics.
Dec 25, 2017 9:06 PM # 
The idea is not new. 25 years ago IOF made a big push to get ski-O into winter olympics and the logic then was the same. Summer games not accepting new sports without first removing existing ones. Winter games eager to take on more. Still never happened.
Dec 25, 2017 11:13 PM # 
Winter games are eager to take on new sports under two conditions:
1) they have strong youth appeal,
2) they belong to one of the seven olympic winter sports federations

SkiO does not qualify under either conditions. I plan to write up the long series of failed application attempts in a post.

When there is a candidate winter sport that qualifies under 1), but not under 2), like snowboarding, the IOC makes sure that 2) gets ticked off. Google the story of snowboarding being recognised by the IOC before Nagano 1998 as a discipline of FIS (ski federation), despite having its own established snowboarding federation.
Dec 31, 2017 10:31 AM # 
In this modest proposal I would like to lay out the key arguments for promoting Virtual-O as the headline competitive format for orienteering as an Olympic sport.

This would be the pinnacle of the IOF's drive to take orienteering out of the forest to the people, to make orienteering more attractive to a larger audience, especially TV audience. Since most of the TV viewers are on the couch in the living room, orienteering must be brought to the couch!

Virtual-O meets not only the expectations of the organisers of Paris 2024, but it is also fully aligned with the strategic directions of the IOF. In fact, it is practically the synthesis of the strategic directions: visible and attractive, it has youth appeal, it is global by definition, and well positioned for the Olympics.

We must have all the confidence that the uncompromising drive of the IOF leadership towards the Olympics will ensure that Virtual-O is introduced, and all the required compromises are met to make orienteering an absolutely positively definitely truly virtual sport.
Dec 31, 2017 10:59 AM # 
I like sarcarsm. Just feel it does not fit the theme of the blog, which so far have included serious posts only - there is a danger that the rest of the posts can now be waved off as being written out of bitterness which can be inferred from this one sarcastic post and taint the whole of the blog now.
Jan 1, 2018 10:35 AM # 
I took the post as serious. What with eGames looking a stronger contender than orienteering, it makes sense.
Jan 3, 2018 9:32 AM # 
I am not bitter, just sad to to see the way orienteering is being led. I believe that a bit of satire is useful to illustrate absurdity of the situation. In our case to show that Virtual-O fits much better the strategic directions of the IOF than other forms of orienteering ;-)
Jan 3, 2018 9:35 AM # 
My previous post apparently touched on a more serious theme than intended. Here is a follow up post on esports, orienteering and the Olympics over and above my original plans.

I received a few comments that one should not be serious about the prospects of esports, so I looked a bit deeper. I was stunned: both the International Olympic Committee and FIFA made major steps embracing esports. It seems that the direction the Olympic movement is pretty much 180 degrees to the one that would favour our beloved traditional Orienteering, whether it is done on foot, on bike or on skis.

We have a great sport with devoted participants, but it is a niche sport. Classical orienteering simply does not fit into the Olympic mass market framework for the foreseeable future. It makes little point to waste resources on this direction with the current approach; just trying to push a round peg into a square hole.
Jan 3, 2018 10:08 PM # 
It's hard to criticize stalas for sarcasm when he's the one who started the thread.
Jan 4, 2018 1:53 AM # 
Closer to analogy than sarcasm.
Jan 4, 2018 3:58 AM # 
Orienteering wouldn't be the only niche sport if it was included at the Olympics - just look at modern pentathlon!
Jan 4, 2018 5:53 AM # 
Wasn't that in danger of being booted?
Jan 4, 2018 7:07 AM # 
Yes but it somehow managed to stay on board. I'm sure Australia will be pushing to retain it given our recent success although we won't fund any potential athletes to compete (swimming money has to come from somewhere).
Jan 4, 2018 10:05 AM # 
I reckon its participation numbers would be lower than orienteering. That's saying something.
Jan 4, 2018 12:04 PM # 
Hard work and they are still dreaming...
Jan 4, 2018 2:51 PM # 
@tRicky Modern pentathlon was included in 1912 and it has been on the program for over 100 years. Allegedly it was Coubertin himself who invented it. So it has a fair bit of history.

Far more difficult to boot a long standing member of the Olympic family, even if they do not contribute much, than allowing in another hungry mouth to the table with little hope of contribution. The direct rivals of orienteering are baseball, climbing, karate, squash and some more are all much more mainstream than orienteering.
Jan 4, 2018 10:35 PM # 
If the Olympics (summer or winter) are ever held in a Nordic country, do you think orienteering would still have no chance of being included?
Jan 4, 2018 11:09 PM # 
Jan 5, 2018 12:46 AM # 
The less well known Olympic sports seem to be held at separate venues, with less television. I'm not sure why necessarily the focus on Olympics. If people want visibility, then maybe a better bet is getting orienteering on television, or better yet streaming, in more countries. Virtual O competitions as part of that might be quite engaging. Let the public try their hand, in the comfort of their sofa.
Jan 5, 2018 1:08 AM # 
Allegedly it was Coubertin himself who invented it.

Yeah I read that it was meant to simulate a soldier racing back from the front lines in a cavalry battle having to swim, find a horse to ride, fence, run and shoot his or her way back - highly relevant in today's world! Perhaps the new revised modern pentathlon could involve piloting a drone, hiding from an enemy patrol, sending a radio message, marching in a parade and standing to attention.
Jan 5, 2018 1:31 AM # 
I think we'll see Musical composition re-introduced to the Olympics before orienteering.
Jan 5, 2018 7:47 PM # 
Pink Socks:
Instead of officially being in the Olympic Games, what if we get close?

Say, have SprintWOC 2028 in Los Angeles, for example.
Jan 7, 2018 11:53 AM # 
I am just wondering what would "getting close" to the Olympics achieve?
Youth appeal in LA? TV audience in the US?

SkiO was fairly close to the Winter Olympics in Nagano 1998.
No impact whatsoever, as far as I know.
Jan 7, 2018 11:14 PM # 
Maybe be as far from the Olympics and other events as possible, for better visibility. Pick a time and date with absolutely nothing else happening, find some TV, cable or streaming outlet willing to carry orienteering, do a really amazing job of video coverage, accessible to non-orienteers (but who might be interested in navigational sport). Maybe let people at home join in on Virtual O just after the event (same map).

During the Olympics, TV is making choices about what *not* to cover, given the vast amount of content. During a lull in sporting events, some outlet might be interested in showing some uncommon sport that doesn't cost them anything to produce or purchase. Maybe. Seems more plausible. Or just advertise the existing live coverage of major events using social media and such, hoping to attract people with interest in maps, trail running, etc.
Jan 8, 2018 1:11 AM # 
In Australia during 'lulls' in events we get to see endless replays of Aussies winning medals (which happens less and less these days so we get to see the same thing over and over).
Jan 8, 2018 1:50 AM # 
Not a lull in the Olympics, a lull in the year. For example, back in the 1970s, there was not much going on in US sports in the summer except baseball, so there was a goofy competition on TV on Sundays called Superstars. It's the "slow news day" concept. Not so easy these days when the start of football almost overlaps on the end of basketball and hockey.
Jan 8, 2018 8:41 AM # 
There's never a lull in sports in Australia. Even during the off season for Aussie Rules football (Oct-Feb), there's never a day goes by when we aren't bombarded with stories about footballers. The commercial networks make sure of it. Alternatively that's when the cricket is on.
Jan 8, 2018 9:45 AM # 
Hasn't this bird flown already?? The Winter Olympics were in Norway in 1994 at Lillehammer and I seem to recall there was an attempt to get ski-orienteering on the program?? The Ski-O Worlds were held at Lillehammer in 1996, which seems a bit late. If we can't get on the program in Scandinavia there is no hope.
Jan 8, 2018 10:20 AM # 
The birds all flew south for the winter.
Jan 8, 2018 10:32 AM # 
O-ing: I think inclusion rules have changed since 1994 and local organisers have more influence over what is included and an ability to add a sport for just single Games.

A question for everybody: If Olympics were not a goal, but you still wanted to achieve more visibility and popularity for orienteering, what would you do differently compared to what is being done now? This reminds me how in my native Ukraine eventually joining the EU is a goal proclaimed by the government. Most people understand that this is only possible in very distant future at best and by that time the EU may not even exist or will be very different and not worth joining. However, it is also recognised that this goal pushes the country in the right direction and helps promote reforms that are necessary anyway. Isn't it the same with orienteering?
Jan 8, 2018 11:20 AM # 
A very good article by IOF.
Orienteering World - No.2/1992
Orienteering and the Olympics by Heinz Tschudin
Jan 9, 2018 3:44 AM # 
@Pink_Socks have SprintWOC 2028 in Los Angeles

In 1984, concurrent with but apart from the Olympics, San Diego Orienteers and Bay Area OC hosted the "California 5 Days". It drew participants from throughout the US and abroad, but otherwise seemed to go unnoticed. Still, it's worth a try, O' is a bigger sport now and a WOC would be an event with much greater visibility (if only to orienteers).
Jan 11, 2018 7:59 PM # 
Is this article accessible anywhere? The IOF web carries archives only rom 2005.
Jan 11, 2018 8:01 PM # 
What is your assessment of the cost/benefit ratio of any of the approaches mentioned?
Jan 11, 2018 8:12 PM # 
The big question is whether pushing orienteering towards the Olympics is the right direction or not. How much compromise can elite orienteering tolerate before hopelessly split from mainstream orienteering - while still not becoming attractive to mass media?

Forcing changes to core values can cause irreparable damage. The first fundamental value is "Orienteering is at one with nature."

Can you match that with the concept of Urban WOC?
Jan 11, 2018 9:24 PM # 
@stalas...I don't have any precise numbers. My suspicion is that getting in the Olympics will take a lot of time and money, like huge, based on what people have said who've talked to Olympics committees and so forth. Producing a television broadcast ourselves would probably cost a bit (though the live streaming has probably been good prep for presenting the sport in an intelligible engaging way). The cheapest might be to find a television network or such interested in doing the filming and production themselves (though not all are good at capturing something like orienteering... The piece on the Swiss woman, can't recall the details, was probably the best I've seen, another piece decades earlier by a local station was awful, there's a whole spectrum). I'm unclear on whether organizing an event near a major televised event (like the Olympics) has any benefit or not.
Jan 11, 2018 11:15 PM # 
One of the best world of sport archive which I know. I think it is free for members and for others pay per scan. Yes, it is a shame that IOF don't have old mag copies online.

National Sport Information Centre/Clearinghouse for Sport
Sport Insights
Participation and Sustainable Sports
Australian Sports Commission
Jan 11, 2018 11:29 PM # 
Thanks for the tip - obviously given my role with Orienteering Australia I knew about the existence of the Clearinghouse for Sport, but didn't know about their archives. Suspect I might spend a bit of this weekend exploring :-).
Jan 12, 2018 7:15 AM # 
Being able to instruct Blair on an Australian archive hes is unaware of is... rare.
Jan 12, 2018 9:21 AM # 
@stalas: The article is reprinted in this Orienteering Canada Newsletter!
Jan 12, 2018 10:44 AM # 
@jwolff Yes, ten pages after the article about dealing with the universal problem of the lack of junior orienteers. I'm thinking OCanada had its priorities right even then...
Jan 12, 2018 11:40 AM # 
@jwolff Ta!
Some of the missing pieces for a future post on the history of the Sisyphean effort to get Orienteering included in the Olympic Games :-)
Jan 12, 2018 1:32 PM # 
New post:

On 7 December the President of the IOF has published his thoughts on matters critical to quality of major events. These were refreshing thoughts that emphasised core qualities of orienteering events like quality of maps, course setting, and punching / time keeping.

Yet, when we try to match the words of the President with the obligations put on organisers of major events by the IOF, we see a mammoth gap between the two. There are gaps between his words and the evaluation criteria of applicants, the formal obligations put on organisers, and the financial obligations required by the IOF.

That is really pity. In case of organisations, especially of organisations built on the effort of volunteers, matching words and actions is the single most critical feature of leadership quality.
Jan 12, 2018 4:14 PM # 
I think the difference is actually quite sensible.
The core qualities are things which any serious host knows about and can provide. TV, arena, sponsorship will all be new, and the host needs to think carefully about whether they can deliver. It is important that the IOF highlight this.
In my own experience, it was clear to anyone hoping to plan the GB WOC that TV was crucial, and prospective planners had to buy into that. So in 2013, long before the arena or even full extent of the area was known, I was out in the forest with the IOF TV guy (Karel) and our local TV liaison figuring out which parts of the area would look good on TV, and the best camera locations for summer conditions. These provided fixed points around which the original courses were planned.

Just as with elite orienteering, its not the absolute technical level that causes mistakes, its the difference between actual and perceived difficulty.
Jan 12, 2018 7:41 PM # 
There are many reasons to develop urban orienteering besides the Olympics. In many parts of the world there are few or no suitable terrains for forest orienteering. In much of England forests are technically boring, with lots of trails and not much contour detail, and unpleasant to run through, with brambles, nettles, and bracken. But there are awesome medieval towns with complex street networks, many narrow alleys, dead ends, fences and hedges. So it is no surprise that many people in the UK actually prefer urban orienteering and it is as "mainstream" as the traditional forest version. For many, all that matters is that orienteering exercises both mind and body, and whether that happens in a forest or in a town is of secondary importance.

As for the separate urban WOC, while there are arguments for and against it, it is hard to argue with the fact that there are not many places in the world where both forest and urban terrains are top-class. So you can either compromise on the quality of one or the other, or choose the best for each type separately.
Jan 14, 2018 6:57 AM # 
riley mcfarlane :
It seems like every organisation has a word to actions imbalance. Even if I were to kickstart a petition for the IOF's main goal to be getting into the Olympic/Paralympic Games, there is NO MONEY in the sport. None of the big Sports companies would want to support Orienteering seeing as most of us are not perceived as 'mainstream' or in a teenager's POV, 'Hype'. Let's be honest, most trail running/orienteering shoes are not that pretty to the normal person's eye. If we can develop or harness someone who is as legendary (Or even better) Than Thierry (Who also is very mainstream or has a lot of 'hype'), they would have to be creating the 'Micheal Jordan effect' on Orienteering, seeing in Australia (Especially West Australia), No one knows Orienteering. If they know OF orienteering, they're the type of person to call it 'OrIeNTATioN' or 'The gay sport where you go treasure hunting'. IKR. What stupidity has entered their hype beast, hormone fuelled head! Which is why we need a 'mainstream' person who is very marketable, like Mike.

What in the hell is the Michael Jordan effect?
He single-handedly made basketball popular with his God-given athleticism and his 'it' factor.
How would a Basketball player help Orienteering spread worldwide?
If someone came along with phenomenal talent & competitive drive who'd scare all other professional stars but be the bandwagon's fan favourite every time, we would encourage big brands to want to sign her a sponsorship!

Or we could just get schools interested in orienteering all over the world.
Jan 14, 2018 9:32 AM # 
There is no magic formula. Karate, squash, cricket,.... all have 100× times or more athletes and fans who support them. It is niche sport and the people who like orinteering are more associated to mountainrunning, XC cross country, skyrunning, etc. and not pure running as athlethics beside elite orienteering. That is way I think IOF made a crucial mistake to cancel world orineteering marathon championships which were organized in the past and cancel application from several member countries to establish a new discipline at previous GAs. In the meantime we saw a mainstream development in this field with 100 miles races, UTMB, and similar races where big brands put their money. Killian Jornet become one of the world most famous athlete. These brands should be our target and not NIKE or similar ones. Just check out how skyrunning federation which is even more niche international sport federation than IOF differentiate from the IAAF or UIAA and attrack many sport brands.
Jan 14, 2018 9:44 PM # 
The sort of orienteering I imagine might have the greatest chance of getting into the Olympics- a purpose-built glass-walled maze in a stadium. Drone cameras overhead. Competing pair starts and tackling allowed. Physical traps along incorrect routes. Yes, I used to be a very active adventure climber who didn't understand speed gym climbing.
Jan 15, 2018 1:28 AM # 
... or as a judged sport, eg synchronised orienteering.

And we should keep an eye on how skyrunning adapts to putting its sport in a stadium.
Jan 15, 2018 1:32 AM # 
Sounds like you should just send the IOC a copy of Maze Runner and tell them it's orienteering.
Jan 15, 2018 1:57 PM # 
New post on IOF Finances:

Next weekend on the IOF Council-Commissions joint meeting there will be a presentation on IOF Finances. This is most interesting.

Last July the IOF leadership did not want to talk about finances on the Presidents' Conference to member federations who have a direct interest. They rather sent a letter about financial issues a week later. Now they decided to talk to commission members who volunteer in technical positions, but do not represent member federations.

In financially distressed companies management typically starts to talk about finances to technical people when they see the possibility of a financial meltdown right around the corner. We have to follow these developments closely.
Jan 18, 2018 10:07 PM # 
New post on the ethics of the IOF:

Ethics is a fascinating question, especially in amateur sport federations based on volunteer work, where the common values and beliefs are the most important glue holding together the organisation.

I share some of the stories from the past couple of years of the IOF that might raise questions around ethical approaches. These include stories around the career of the secretary, respect of the rules, and open and honest discussions, amongst others.

This is a longer than usual post, but keeping these stories in one bouquet may help readers to understand that they appear to be more than random individual cases.

One may recognise patterns, and may even be forgiven to come to the feeling that not written rules, but the ethics of a good old boy network, and the ethics of silence govern conduct in sensitive matters within the IOF.
Jan 25, 2018 10:13 PM # 
Pink Socks:
I'm not convinced that orienteering needs to be in the Olympics, I'm just spitballing ideas.

I think SprintWOC at an Olympic site immediately before or after the games has some potential (perhaps not a lot, but some). The local community is engaged, there are fans around, there's international media, and it's the peak awareness period of sports that aren't basketball, football, soccer, baseball, or hockey.

Another idea would be to have the IOF give SprintWOC entries to any Olympian, just for kicks.

I've mentioned this before, but in the US, the first baby step would be to get into the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail every June. I know our exec director talked to some people about it several years ago, but they prohibited off-trail access, and he didn't pursue other options that I think could work (eg: Sprint in the ski village).
Feb 21, 2018 9:02 PM # 

A new post about IOF elections. The title comes from a classic American protest song of the 1960s by Tom Paxton.

"I learned our government must be strong
It's always right and never wrong
Our leaders are the finest men
And we elect them again and again"

Over the total 28 IOF elections since 1961 the post of the President was contested only once. The number of candidates for Council positions since 2000 (9 elections) was only 13% higher than the seats available.

It seems that Council members get elected for the lack of choice. A combination of cost, time commitment, and apparently limited ability to make real impact severely limits the number of potential candidates. As a result, IOF leadership appears to be in an unshakeable position, that in return may explain the conduct of the Council on some occasions.
Mar 11, 2018 8:20 AM # 
Just a quick detour into the realm of social psychology as a follow up article to my previous post on IOF elections.

Why some members of the Council feel themselves highly empowered in discussions with practitioners as "member of a body elected by the General Assembly" - despite the fact that simply being selected for nomination by their national federations almost guarantees an "elected" seat in the Council?

How can educated people who were well aware of the "election process" (or lack of it) behave as if they would have won the US Presidential elections?

A TEDx presentation by a psychology professor from Berkeley may provide a possible explanation.
Mar 11, 2018 7:00 PM # 
How about to put your energy into a simple proposals that would have a chance to be discussed here on AP.
Mar 11, 2018 7:35 PM # 
it looks like target is discussions at AP and other places, instead of IOF
wrong target. resentful man's tales
Mar 11, 2018 8:01 PM # 
I cannot provide a simple proposal for the simple reason that there are no simple solutions. ;-)

I am trying to raise awareness before the IOF goes down the path of many disgraced international sports organisations. Very few people in orienteering are aware of the issues around IOF governance, practices, finances and attitudes. Without understanding that there are serious problems, it is not possible to have meaningful discussions.

Of course, some may believe that ignorance is strength. ;-)
Mar 11, 2018 10:06 PM # 
I got a feeling that you see every decision as a wrong decision and that nobody from the current leadership is able to fix or change the course. I'm well aware that you see plenty of possible improvements but I also believe that people working for IOF are doing the best they can and in the best interest of whole orienteering community even if they did many bad decisions. Let's say 7/8 out of 10 decisions is still good management. Where is current leadership on this ladder? Simple.
Mar 12, 2018 12:08 AM # 
No, I never said that every IOF decision was a wrong decision. Whether 7/8 rights out of 10 decisions is good management or not is another question. I am pretty sure that many disgraced sport managers, business executives and political figures made 7/8 good decisions out of 10, and that they were convinced that they worked for the best interest of their sport, business, or nation.

I have no reason to doubt that when the Vice President of the IOF asked people who do not believe in the Olympic Dream to leave the room before a discussion on IOF strategy started, he did so believing that it was in the best interest of the sport. I have no reason to doubt that when the Council members stayed silent instead of discussing situations with potential for serious ethical implications, they did so believing that was in the best interest of the sport.
You may read more on this in this post:

I have no reason to doubt that when the IOF budget is missed 10 years in a row and majority of reserves are gone, it was also done with the belief that the extra spend was in the best interest of the sport. Pity that there is very little to show for it.

These questions are not discussed within the IOF structures for various reasons, and few in the orienteering family are aware of these issues. I believe that the first step to solve these questions is to raise awareness.
Mar 12, 2018 2:26 AM # 
"to raise awareness" and then what....
This is politics and if you think you could do it better then you need to get a support and put your NAME into election process. If your programme, vision, trust, leadership, team etc is what members are willing to buy then things can go in different way. It is that simple.
Mar 12, 2018 10:19 AM # 
Oh, do you want to suggest that only people who stand for election supposed to write about the internal workings of international sports organisations like the IOF?

(or the IOC, FIFA, FIDE, UCI, AIBA, IAAF, and FIVB - just to name a few)
Mar 12, 2018 2:42 PM # 
Of course not but media normally publish news because there is bussines interes or large public interest. I like the fact that you are kind of IOF watchdog. I just think that if you want to start a change within the IOF your approach will not bring you anywhere closer to the solutions you want to see. Maybe they will try to follow their rules better than in the past. I would be glad to read that your personal interest have a meaning. Did you sent any of your findings to the IOF and they reply to you?
Mar 12, 2018 5:10 PM # 
No need to send anything to the IOF. I was told they read my blog :-)
There is no public reaction. They have a habit to avoid potentially inconvenient discussions.

Yes, I tried to discuss many things during my 6 years in the MTBO Commission, especially during the 4 years as the chairman of the commission. I was either ignored, or told that they are the ones elected so they do what they want, no point to discuss.

On the nature of Council elections and the attitudes observed see my last two posts:

I know it is not personal. The IOF leadership has similar attitudes to others too. They sent a letter to member federations about financial issues - but only a week after the Presidents' Conference to avoid inconvenient discussions. The IOF VP openly asked activists who did not believe in the Olympic Dream to leave the room before they started to discuss IOF strategy. I have a feeling that they may have an active ostrich policy. ;-)
Mar 14, 2018 3:24 PM # 
They have a habit to avoid potentially inconvenient discussions.
Yes, we're still waiting for anyone from the WOC2015 team to get invited to a
IOF High Level Event Seminar. In the absence of any IOF feedback, we'll go on assuming our efforts were perfect, like it said on worldofo.
Mar 19, 2018 9:27 AM # 
I have to admit that the apparent strategy to avoid open discussions was something I could not really understand for many years. We are all volunteers, save for a couple of paid people in the IOF Office. We all try our best, but unavoidably make mistakes or miss elements of the big picture.

Open discussions should be seen as a way of ensuring the development of our sport, and not something threatening - unless some see it as incompatible with their privileged position. I think that the Berkeley experiment I wrote about in my last post may explain the reasons behind some observed behaviour.
Mar 20, 2018 3:13 PM # 
Regarding transparency and being open to and about inconvenient topics, I would also like to see more information from IOF on "forbidden things done at high(est) level events". Be it proven doping (two cases in ski-o in recent years, AFAIK), use of forbidden routes in ski-o (Finland) and MTBO (Austria, proven by GPS), or breaking embargo areas (MTBO in Lithuania, foot-o in Latvia). I feel "the bad" and "the ugly" need to be named too, not just "the good". OTOH, maybe sweeping things under the carpet is just practising for how it would be when Olympic dreams come true...
Mar 20, 2018 8:59 PM # 
jSh> I'm curious, can I ask to be more specific regarding "breaking embargo areas" facts? I don't know nothing about this
Mar 21, 2018 1:41 AM # 
The Latvian foot-o one is documented in section 32.3 of the January Council minutes (so the information is publicly available, if not heavily publicised). Interesting case - it involved someone who had gone on a zipline over the embargoed area without actually setting foot in it.

Anti-doping cases have fairly strict confidentiality rules (largely imposed by WADA and national anti-doping organisations) so you're never likely to hear much other than the final result.
Mar 21, 2018 2:25 AM # 
Zipline -- yeah, I'm sure that created an unfair advantage. On the other hand, the culprits most likely were doing it on purpose to see what would happen. I wonder what the rules clarification will look like. Can I fly my hang glider over an embargoed area? What if it's at an altitude of 1000+ meters?
Mar 21, 2018 5:12 AM # 
How about some experiments to see how much local knowledge influences results. I suspect it only really would make a difference in sprint events. But with google street map embargoes are somewhat meaningless in urban areas anyway.
Mar 21, 2018 1:55 PM # 
How about: can you park outside the embargo area and fly your drone over it?
Mar 21, 2018 5:57 PM # 
@nerimka, the MTBO case was also really rather funny and unlikely at the same time. Vilnius, town-centre, embargoed area for WMTBOC sprint. The event organisers were notified by participating federation "A", who had been preparing for the competition by looking at Google street-view, that Google linked to some Picasa user-provided pictures, where athletes from federation "B" were visible with bikes at one of the landmark tourist attractions. The elite athletes from "B" were discouraged from submitting a name-entry for the sprint competition, which they accepted.

Looking at things the way they are nowadays, with the Hubmanns and the Danes drawing nearly better maps of the WOC sprint competition area from public sources and planning memo-courses up to par with the later WOC-courses, plus bike-training hardware offering "race against the champ" modes with VR glasses and even uphill/downhill simulation on the treadmill, one has to wonder what advantage real-world touristic sightseeing really had/has...

But rules are rules, of course, so that's just how it is, for now.
Until Sandors suggestion happens - introducing orienteering to the Olympics through e-sports... :-(
Mar 21, 2018 7:15 PM # 
Given that a recent WOC shared a map made from (I recall) publicly available lidar in advance if the event, and many organizers share photos of the forest, foreknowledge of the terrain may be more egalitarian... Anyone with internet access (barring some from self-walled countries) will often see a fair bit about the terrain in advance. Having orienteered in nearby terrain will still be an advantage, but perhaps less so than a few decades ago.
Mar 21, 2018 7:23 PM # 
Actually, doing a WOC course by VR goggles might be a way to interest the public in the sport, especially Sprint through an ancient city against top athletes, at least virtually. It might also be interesting to watch a helmet cam video of a world champion doing their course, next to their animated GPS track. I'm not opposed to the efforts to make the sport more watchable.
Mar 21, 2018 7:41 PM # 
I think there is a lot to still develop for those headcam videos to be watchable from someone doing our sport at the speed of the top Elite.

Try not to be dizzy in about 30 secs from this sprint headcam video from Marten Bostrom:
Mar 22, 2018 12:30 AM # 
There are ways to process headcam videos so they look less shaky. Check Ivan Sirakov's videos, for example.

I suspect Bostrom's video is left unprocessed intentionally.
Mar 22, 2018 4:02 AM # 
Or, we need follow drones.
Mar 22, 2018 3:39 PM # 
Or a fast runner who can follow a world champion.
Mar 22, 2018 4:16 PM # 
Yeah, those chasing camera videos are super fun.
Mar 23, 2018 2:26 PM # 
Bostrom's video looks like it was taken with the camera on a chest mount, rather than on his head, hence the exaggerated swinging motion, and the fact that you can see the map when he brings it up to his chest. There's still some swing from a head-strap mount when you're moving fast, but nothing like as much (unless you're Paula Radcliffe) and the latest GoPros have image stabilising software that helps a little. Still not perfect, though.
Mar 30, 2018 3:36 PM # 
Back to the question of finances for a change:

There were some good vibes coming out from the IOF about the state of finances. Positive result for 2017, cash at €157,000, and a reassuring presentation given for delegates to IOF commissions.

In this post I would like to show you why one has to take these pieces of seemingly positive information cautiously, especially when they come from an organisation with stretched financials. Some technical financial terminology was unavoidable, but I tried to explain as much as possible in simple terms.

Let’s hope that the IOF financial report for 2017 gets published in the near future, and that the detailed numbers confirm the positive messages. Until then one has to be cautious and avoid overinterpreting pieces of information that do not show the full picture.
Mar 30, 2018 6:03 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
We were told by the SEA that for WOC2019 in Østfold/Norway we had to publish autogenerated maps of all areas, based on public and semi-public LiDAR and topo data. This was similar to the requirements for WOC2016 half an hour further south in Strømstad.

The main difference was that Strømstad published maps of just the actual competition terrains while we did the same for all embargoed areas, totalling about 300 sq km.
May 7, 2018 8:44 PM # 
World Orienteering Day - a great idea that we should be happy about, but there is a strange hype of achieving new and new "World Records" attached to it.

The extension of the event for a full week has good reasons. Still calling it a Day and push communication around another record participation looks positively strange. It is a self-declared, self-reported world record that has no value outside self-congratulatory IOF press releases.

The WOD slogan “Be part of something bigger” has acquired a completely new meaning. Have you ever been part of a day that lasted for a week?

This is a minor topic amongst the issues around the IOF, but it illustrates very well the mindset of the leadership: a desperate demonstration of results where the picture looks very different when you scratch the surface; a focus on meaningless numbers to avoid an honest discussion about the real issues.
May 7, 2018 9:08 PM # 
World Orienteering Days?
May 7, 2018 11:26 PM # 
Why not WOW World O Week?
May 7, 2018 11:56 PM # 
That is the point. Why didn't they change the name, but keep chasing targets giving the misleading impression that the 2018 numbers will be comparable to that of 2017 and 2016?
May 8, 2018 6:58 AM # 
someone gets surprised when it comes to marketing basics?
May 8, 2018 1:52 PM # 
Well, there are marketing basics for reputable organisations, and there are "marketing basics" for others type of business
May 8, 2018 3:44 PM # 
If you talk about marketing: Who is the target audience? What is the marketing message? Why is it set up in a misleading way?

Is this just another attempt to project an "everything is fine" message to the orienteering public instead of taking a hard look at the serious issues?
May 8, 2018 4:41 PM # 
Mr Wonderful:
Forget the metrics re: WOD, wtf is this WOD registration box uncheckable?

May 8, 2018 6:58 PM # 
Yes, this looks like a very interesting "feature" indeed.
May 8, 2018 8:10 PM # 
May 15, 2018 10:08 AM # 
Mr Wonderful had very valid point above. There are serious questions about the WOD website. That post on that is being researched and written. In the meantime, a new post to complete the discussion on participation metrics:

In 2016 the IOF wanted to break the Guinness World Record of the largest multi venue orienteering event set by the Swiss Orienteering Association in 2003. It did not succeed. The Guinness World Record remained the one set by the Swiss. Yet the IOF claimed a new world record both in 2016 and 2017, albeit an "IOF World Record", a self declared, not verified one.

There could be very good reason why an event like the WOD focused more on promotion of the sport does not attempt to achieve a verified world record. The focus of WOD should be on participation and fun, not on administration. But then why claim new “world records”? Whom are we kidding?

The Swiss world record numbers underline the failing participation masked by the unbelievably large numbers from Turkey. In 2003 there were more participants in Swiss schools only than in 2016 or 2017 around the World outside Turkey. Pushing the communication of new IOF world records is even more controversial in this light.
May 16, 2018 12:01 AM # 
Following your discussion with interest Sandor. But I can't decide whether you are revealing a sinister twisting of the truth, or what we are surrounded by in daily life - putting a positive face on the facts, marketing, "spin", etc.

This takes many forms, eg the dubious claims of the cosmetic and dieting industries, firms which exist to lobby governments. Market research itself doesn't exist to serve the consumer. Election campaigning FCS!

I see it in orienteering too. My national body, driven by a government grant, adopted a series of business management fads, including setting and reporting numerical measures. Of course most of them are "met" (before being quietly shelved under the new "strategic" plan). Even my club's annual report puts a spin on the year's happenings. At this level, where so much effort is dependent on enjoyment and voluntary contribution, no-one likes to be told that the numbers are going down. The spin influences the reality.

Keep up the thought-provoking posts.
May 16, 2018 11:52 PM # 
As the regulatory burden seems to keep increasing (and we in Australia have a magnitude burden increase coming up with child safety issues) I sometimes feel I might just switch back to an individual sporting pursuit like climbing or bushwalking.
May 21, 2018 6:14 AM # 
It's all about funding. Increased numbers means increased (or in the present case merely sustained) funding.
May 21, 2018 7:12 AM # 
Funding may definitely pay a role at national level to inflate numbers, but they have very little impact internationally. At least at the level orienteering is. I think that the danger of self deception is much larger.

Putting on a positive spin on club activities, sometimes with a tongue in cheek approach around a table with a few pitchers of beer, is something very different than pounding success stories to justify an inflated budget and a history of continuing losses in an international organisation.
May 21, 2018 8:14 AM # 
Mr Wonderful above has called my attention to something strange on the WOD website. The lawyers with expertise in internet law have confirmed it. The WOD website blatantly violates the GDPR law coming into force on 25 May. It does not comply even with current EU guidelines.

The GDPR requires that not only the current WOD website should be changed, but all data collected on the current website in a non-GDPR compliant way should be deleted before 25 May. All names, phone numbers, email addresses should go, unless explicit consent is obtained, one by one, from the volunteers signed up so far.

How could this happen? Was it an accidental mistake or intentional deception? Will the IOF comply or try get away with it? Is lawful operation is more important to the IOF leadership, or collecting volunteers' data for marketing lists even if the method is highly questionable?
May 21, 2018 10:14 AM # 
Just to note that GDPR is not new. The 25th May is not the time it comes into effect, but when the grace period of not applying huge fines for organisations that do not comply would be facing. The legislation is in effect already (if I am not mistaken, for 2 years), it is only getting high attention now because organisations are facing those huge (and I mean, millions of Euros) fines after this date.

BTW the law does not only apply to data on the website but all personal information captured/stored anywhere even if it is not exposed on a website, so I hope that IOF has all its data covered by the right processes... Consent is expected up front, although the consent may come in various forms (which is where it gets legal), and needs to be quite specific in approving the purpose it is used for (ie. you can't collect data just in case it will be useful). However, I think IOF have a very good justification and legitimate purpose in administering the organisation of the sport on behalf of its members and athletes to collect and manage all kinds of data, it just needs to be clear and explicit on a number of aspects of doing so. Being clear is also important, i.e. it isn't just sufficient to trust that someone in the organisation knows what to do - there must be clearly available policies available for anyone to see who is interested in what personal data the IOF has, how they are using it, and how I as an individual can get in touch for various purposes in context of that (for example, if I as a hypothetical elite athlete would want IOF to delete all my personal data, I need to have clear information on how I can request it).

So this goes way beyond WOD and is a nightmare for a lot of organisations BTW to implement.
May 23, 2018 1:29 PM # 
Mr Wonderful:
Dear World Orienteering Day event organiser!

On May 25, the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes effect. The IOF has been reviewing all of our various systems where we have collected personal data to see how it affects us. Regarding the World Orienteering Day website , the IOF would like to clarify for you how the personal information you have provided when registering an account on the World Orienteering Day website is used by us and what you should do if you do not agree with us having this information.

First of all, registering your event on the World Orienteering Day website is voluntary. The materials on the website and the offerings provided by World Orienteering Day partners via the website are available whether you have registered an account or not. The goal of World Orienteering Day is to promote orienteering globally and locally and there is no requirement to register your event on the homepage to be part of the project. However, we do believe that the website provides interesting information about the global reach of the project and we encourage registration.

When you created an account on the World Orienteering Day website, you were asked to provide a name and an e-mail address (you could also provide a telephone number but this is not obligatory). You can always choose whether or not you want your personal information to be displayed along with the information about your event. When creating an account you also agreed that the IOF may send information to you about the World Orienteering Day project and information from our partners which is relevant to the World Orienteering Day project. The personal data provided is used only by the IOF and is not shared with other organisations or companies.

The IOF uses the personal information you provided to communicate about the administration, planning and implementation of WOD events. This is done via the WOD Newsletter. We also use the data to send important information like in this mail. The IOF also sends, via the WOD Newsletter, information about the special offers provided by our partners for World Orienteering Day. You can choose to not receive this partner information by unsubscribing from the WOD Newsletter.

If, based upon the above information or for any other reason, you would like us to remove your account and personal data from the World Orienteering Day website, you can do so at any time by simply sending an e-mail to .

After the completion of World Orienteering Day 2018, we will be developing the World Orienteering Day website and database further, to improve and streamline the handling of personal data and the sending of project information. Once this is complete you will receive more information about how this might affect your account.

Best regards,

Tom Hollowell
May 24, 2018 6:26 PM # 
Big step ahead.

According to my lawyer friends it still misses out on key points (e.g. the law requires "opt-in", not a possibility to "opt-out"), but it is definitely much-much better than in was a few days ago.

Funnily enough, I did not get this email despite being registered on the WOD site ;-)

EDIT: Finally I received the IOF email above 2 days later on 25 May.
Sep 19, 2018 10:50 AM # 
This was a busy summer, but now it is time to get back to this blog, because there is a long list of interesting topics waiting to be published. First is the conclusion of the WOD quatrology. Just a brief look beyond the ever optimistic IOF communication to see the real numbers.

The overblown targets of 500,000 participants on 5000 events in 100 countries set by the IOF leadership were missed by a wide margin from 19% to a whopping 56%.

In 2018 over seven days there were even fewer events organised than in 2017 on a single day!

Maybe it is time to rethink the concept of World Orienteering Day for the sake of long term success. Let's focus on the love of the sport instead of chasing targets with little point beyond making the IOF leadership proud when eventually they may get achieved.
Sep 19, 2018 4:24 PM # 
good to see a new story, though more happy that you - like many others - prioritise working for the actual sport rather than the federation.
With regard to WOD, I'm glad you mention the "couldn't be bothered" folks. I know of one event that took place, used all the WOD-logos and "join the thing" wording, but didn't register on the WOD-page; and I notice another event that I know took place did not register participant numbers.
So it is quite possible that there are some submerged numbers, though definitely not an iceberg. And the numbers from the topmost participating country... well, if we can send people to monitor elections in Russia, maybe it's time to do some monitoring in TUR too...
Or rather... maybe not. Keep on actually organising events and keep the sport alive, all over the world, is more relevant than ever.
Sep 21, 2018 7:37 PM # 
Yes, I am afraid that the IOF leadership misjudged the attitude of grassroot orienteers , as usual, in their quest for media fame. Seems that they cannot be bothered with a rift between elite and grassroots, though I would argue that cohesion is one of the unique (and thus valuable) aspects of orienteering.

When checks out the Turkish pictures uploaded by different sites gets a very mixed picture. Judging by the photos some schools apparently staged very respectable events with maps and o-flags, while others appeared to do something that more looked like nature walking in groups (no maps, no flags, just nice groups of kids walking in the park)
Sep 25, 2018 7:26 AM # 
New post on the IOF's anti-doping activity:

There are interesting questions around the IOF's AD activity. The number of tests are falling, the number of athletes in the testing pool is less than half as two years ago. Yet, the IOF collects more and more money for AD purposes. The implied cost of tests is skyrocketing.

Did the AD tests got really so expensive in the past two years? Or could it happen that the money collected for AD purposes is spent to prop up the ailing finances of the IOF?

Questions, questions, questions...
Sep 25, 2018 11:29 AM # 
The post has been updated with AD test numbers and costs received from the Portuguese organisers of WMTBOC 2016.
Sep 28, 2018 8:28 PM # 
Quick review of the IOF financials before the General Assembly next weekend. Unfortunately, the past is dark, the future is unclear.

- The expectation that the IOF Leadership will miss its own budget target 10 years in a row is now confirmed;
- The promises of plenty of the 2016 General Assembly were not delivered: the cumulative results of 2016-18 is expected as €693, or 0.2% of the promised €302,701;
- It makes little sense to analyse the 2019-20 budgets, after the 2017 one got revised within two months after it was approved by the General Assembly in 2016;
- There are no materials available on the Long Term Financing Plan on the agenda - either because the IOF leadership does not want to get questions, or because there are no numbers, only dreams.

Despite all that, it seems that the Member Federations prefer to follow an ostrich policy, and not interested in changing the current state of lax financial governance and bismal financial underperformance of the IOF.
Sep 29, 2018 1:41 AM # 
Maybe they should take up ostrich farming. I hear it is quite lucrative although ostriches don't tend to pay athlete licences.
Sep 29, 2018 2:44 AM # 
But they can run
Oct 3, 2018 12:35 PM # 
2019 marks the 75 year anniversary of the endeavour to include orienteering in the Olympic Games. The first negotiations with the IOC on orienteering began back in 1944, even though the IOF was not established until 1961.

There are many unique opportunities offered by this 75th anniversary. It would be a major mistake not to use this occasion for the promotion of orienteering and the IOF’s Olympic Ambition.

It is a pity that after 36(!) years the IOF Leadership is yet to find and answer to the core question faced already during the negotiations to get into the 1982 Calgary Winter Olympics:

"How much money will you bring in?"
Oct 4, 2018 6:45 PM # 
Is Live Orienteering Dead?

I did not plan to write another post this week, but my attention was called to a new development that may be of interest of the delegates for the General Assembly meeting in Prague this weekend.

Live redirects to Cleeng, a commercial video streaming provider for live streaming and to the event website for results, all with a somewhat cryptic message: "due to the problems with payments and access to the IOF LIVE Orienteering platform".

The core functionalities of do not work: the pay per view and the one-stop result services, that is the objectives why it was built and then completely rebuilt after 2 years with high expenses and lots of management time involved.
Jan 5, 2019 6:07 PM # 
Olympic Dream - status end 2018

After a busy period here is a new post about the Olympic Dream of the IOF leadership.

With the General Assembly we saw heightened communication around the Olympic ambitions combined with apparently haphazard activities or lack of it, and no meaningful results to show whatsoever.

When one looks at the details, it becomes evident that orienteering has zero chance to be on the Olympics, and apparently there was even no application submitted for the Paralympics despite declared intentions.
Jan 6, 2019 11:57 PM # 

(Catch/RUN) and (release/PUNCH) only. Also, for all the tons of (fish eaten/TREES CUTTED) daily, very little education comes from it. This event will promote awareness of the harmful environmental effects of unregulated (fishing/LOGGING) and educate the masses on the importance of protecting the world's (fish population/FORESTS). It should be an honor to hold this event before the world and show off your (clean rivers/PRESERVED FORESTS) and thriving natural resources.

We should shift debate a little bit from the the IOF daily decisions, wish lists and money to our basics - why we love our sport. Is there anything beyond the sport activity "per se" that could be in high probability attached to any orinteer regardless of age, nationality, profession, etc. If we want to discuss our long term goals and why orienteering should be in great interest of IOC we should first define what the hack we bring to the table. What is (or should become) our unique message that other sports can't deliver to the global audience. What kind of engagement and achivements we can gain over time within the "small" orienteering community? For sure we can't bring BIG money or TV masses, we all know this by now. Are we able to start with our own simple metrics and stick to the plan? Should we include our environmental metrics and find a way how to support federations to better promote not just sport itself but also the importance of the forest degradation in their countries (Malaysia, Brazil, etc). Do we have people able to start something? Can IOF and member federations get a help from the outside, maybe IOC to fund our goals? Can we start with a list of companies/wood products that most probably come from the illegal logging? Should we use WOC to bring this message to the media? How orienteering communities can be useful to promote those goals that might/should have a visible effect on the global population? Is there anything we should try to do or it is not our business?

Probably we should just forget about all these questions because we don't want to mix global politics with sport? As things are set up now maybe it is better to use our spare resources to attend more IOC events and hope IOF can find a way to develop a sprint WOC in Qatar? It should be fun, no shorts please.

@stalas, sorry that I'm fishing in your pond but did you catch anything so far :) All the best on your watch & be nice to the IOF.
Jan 9, 2019 9:31 PM # 
@kofols: some of the above ones are very valid questions. But it is difficult to have a meaningful discussion without acknowledging that there is a problem. And it is difficult to find a solution without understanding the problem.

Most people interested in international orienteering have a feeling that things are not going well, but few understand the depth of the issues. This includes national federations, the only ones who can really initiate action.

I am trying to help interested people to understand some of the key issues, provide data that few are aware of, and try to make people think. Some appreciate this effort, some find it interesting, and some are highly annoyed that "authority" is challenged.

Life as usual ;-)
Jan 10, 2019 9:56 AM # 
My 5 cents

You made good points but AP is most probably not a place where decision makers will discuss your insights. We all see that there is a lack of interest (or most probably time) beyond the MUST DO tasks. IOF is small in terms of money, people and heavily rely on volunteeers to do a lot of work. I would say IOF is good at that. Do they register how many volunteer hours are made each year?

One issue which I think is important is event structure within IOF. In the last 30 years IOF add news events, champs in all disciplines and we probably now have 50% more international events/days. I don't know any international organization that has so limited resources and has so diversified international competion structure. Is this sustainable on the long run if we can't have the same growt of athletes? I think IOF should be more transparent about data and should not be ashamed if numbers are in decline.

I understand that you have good insights about IOF working methods and willingness to challange them but these facts are just facts. If they have missed the target so what. We all know that activity plan is a mix of wishes and real goals. Maybe they need this kind of document when they have a meeting with IOC so they can show how they set a plan and how they plan to work on it + have a legitimate reason to ask for help and be part of some other IOC programme. Just thinking, this give & take relationship works. This is probably the reason for some high targets which realisticaly are out of our reach.

I agree that national federations are too conservative because nobody want to be a bad boy. It should be a group interest to force a change and in the past we saw that scandinavian federations are the only ones which have this approach. For individuals, media, etc I think IOF should start a monthly Q&A theme so anyone could ask a question or submit the problem and possible solution. I think this is the best what we can get to start a discussion. Our government has such a platform and officials "need" to reply. If the proposal is good then the working group look at it and decide the steps how to implent it (change law/procedure). It is politics at the end but if I compare to the IOF I don't see much difference. It is sport politics and people as you and probably many others could benefit from such a platform.

To finish...
Whatever IOF did wrong in the past or not doing correctly by your observations there is not much you can do from the outside. It is what it is. If they don't want to discuss with you, don't want to change anything or federations are happy with the way things are then IOF way of life is here to stay.
Jan 11, 2019 5:41 AM # 
It may not be lack of interest, but self-acknowledged ignorance. You probably have a very high lurker to poster ratio on this thread.
Jan 11, 2019 10:25 AM # 
I think there is a route into the Olympics for orienteering, but the IOF would never take it.

The olympics has 339 events. wikipedia claims it is capped at 28 sports. Its easier to get in as an event than a sport. Orienteering has to redefine its sport.

The obvious answer is to merge with adventure racing - we have the volunteer base, established governance and the international penetration, they have the money and better TV. Other "events" within the "sport" might attract could be mountain racing (photogenic) and cross country running (participation) which the IAAF seem to have no inclination to include. Such a "sport" has the clout to get in.

But, the IOF wouldn't countenance the loss of control and few orienteers care about the olympics, so its never going to happen.
Jan 13, 2019 4:10 PM # 
@graeme: If a major sports federation finds a sport commercially interesting (i.e. Olympic material), they simply nick it. See how snowboarding was nicked by FIS, the skiers, and how parkour is scared to see the interest by FIG, the gymnasts.

No comparable threat to orienteering, I am afraid.
Jan 13, 2019 4:19 PM # 
@kofols: There is substantial traffic referred to the blog from AP, that's one reason I keep posting here. There is interest in these matters, as confirmed by TheInvisibleLog.

I also know that the decision makers are reading my blog. But they do not like open discussions of these matters. In fact, they did not like meaningful internal discussions either, even I was the Chair of the MTBO Commission. Hence the blog format.

Change in the IOF will come in national federations demand it. Until they do not say a word when the General Assembly is taken for a ride as with the 2016-18 budget, nothing will happen.

AP is a good platform to inform the ones who who are interested in the international development of our sport, and who have a chance to influence the national federations about the state of affairs around the IOF.
Jan 13, 2019 4:29 PM # 
New post on the value of athletes

Some insights into the IOF World Cup prize pool. Although the IOF earns good money from broadcasting the performance of top orienteers, there is absolutely no visible intention to share the profit with the very same athletes.

The thinking of the IOF leadership appears to be squarely anchored in the XIXth century while they dream about reaping the commercial benefits of modern sport. Even in the unbelievably positive 2018 budget, where the IOF expected €375,000 only from sponsors, €0 was planned to be shared with the athletes.

It is time for the IOF leadership to start to warm to the idea that their dream of a more commercialised orienteering works only if they share the benefits with the top athletes, the key contributors to any commercial success. Instead of spending on hopeless projects like all singing, all dancing IT developments, they should start to think about the value of our top athletes.
Jan 17, 2019 1:57 PM # 
New post on IOF financials

In 2016 over €300,000 total profit was planned by the IOF leadership for the 2016-2018 period. That was the sum of the largest annual profits planned by the IOF in its history. In 2016 the General Assembly was told that the surplus was required to strengthen the IOF's financial position.

In 2018 it seems that the total profit for the 2016-2018 period will be around zero due to a major shortfall of planned sponsor revenues. In 2018 the General Assembly was told that the IOF is a non-profit organisation, and that the goal was not to make significant profit.

It seems that Karl Marx was right when he stated that "It is not Consciousness that determines Life, but Life determines Consciousness."
Jan 18, 2019 6:20 AM # 
Or 'Reason has always existed, but not always in a reasonable form.'

Stalas, 'Philosophers have only interpreted the world. The point, however, is to change it.' I don't think you can change IOF by standing on the sidelines.
Jan 18, 2019 8:24 PM # 
Simmo, I agree, the point is to change the world for the better.

I saw that was impossible from inside. The leadership was not open to meaningful discussions. As an example, in 2017 on the IOF joint meeting one of the Vice Presidents asked everybody who were not fully committed to the Olympic Vision to leave the session on strategy.

To change things from the outside there has to be a realisation that change is needed, that the Emperor's new clothes is not as impressive as you may lead to believe by official communication. That realisation may come from seeing the gap between projected image and reality.

I am trying to show the extent of the gap. If people think that it is too big of gap, things may change. If they think that "they saw worse", things will stay as is until something serious happens.
Mar 1, 2019 1:16 PM # 
Ethics Panel investigates “IOF Anti-Doping activity questions”

For the avoidance of misunderstanding, the subject of the Ethics Panel procedure was not the IOF’s Anti-Doping activity. Nor were there any issues raised around the facts and data mentioned in the blog post. They are interested if any breach of the IOFs Code of Ethics has resulted from certain comments.

In the post you can read the original letter received from the Chair of the IOF Ethics Panel, some of the key questions related to his email that made me scratch my head, and my reply to the letter of the Chair.
Mar 1, 2019 6:08 PM # 
"Been there, done that, and still doing it myself."

I thought that you have finished with all your IOF work a long ago and that you are posting blogs only because of your own interest in the IOF. If you are out & your blogs are "research journalism" why you think you owe them an explanation? I suppose the whole thing is personal and in case you said something very bad to compromise the honor and good name of this person then this person could sue you. Probably IOF just want to continue their work in peace and harmony & because nobody have interest and money to sue you they tried with the Ethics Panel to give you something to work on instead of writing about IOF. You bite & this soap opera could officially start. You have to admit that this is a great move by the IOF. I suggest you to put the whole thing in the bin and keep the real work. It is great that someone like you have time to inform others with different views on what IOF is doing. Hope you will be ready to step up oneday.
Mar 4, 2019 9:20 PM # 
First, I wrote that "I keep volunteers of international orienteering in high respect."

International orienteering is much more than the IOF. I have done quite a bit both helping organisers of major events in different nations, and also general MTBO related work. I still do IOF related work too, like delivering IOF Event Adviser clinics for MTBO. I also see my blog also a way of contributing to international orienteering by improving transparency.

We do not know who initiated this Ethics Panel investigation and why. That is one of the peculiar thing about it. The other is that the accusation is very vague. That's what I wrote about in my post. For the rest, let's get back and discuss when there is a reply from the Ethics Panel and we may get some clarity about what is going on.
Apr 8, 2019 10:12 AM # 
An update on the Ethics Panel investigation: details of the enquiry and some observations on specifics, timing and rules.

The Ethics Panel declared that “There is no specific single or unilateral comment that has caused the request for further information to be actioned.” Yet, they ask for clear factual evidence to verify the allegations, that were not specified.

The IOF never sought a correction to the post. They have all the numbers to answer the questions in the post, but never published them. The IOF Ethics Panel is not a media regulator. All that questions if the Ethics Panel has any basis to proceed.

It took 157 days for the Ethics Panel from the date the post was reported by the IOF to send the first email with information request. A very strange 5 month long delay even considering that 1 of the 5 five members of the Ethics Panel was changed in early October 2018. Clearly, this was not seen as a major issue requiring urgent action until very recently.

Yet, we have to welcome the interest of the Ethics Panel in the financial processes and managerial conduct of the IOF. As we know, the traditional governance model of international sport organisations is not particularly effective in ensuring control over financial and ethical conduct of their leadership. A more active involvement of the Panel may help to improve the workings of the IOF to avoid even the possibility of ethical and financial scandals that marred so many international sport organisations from FIFA through IBU to the IOC.
Apr 10, 2019 9:05 AM # 
I just received yesterday another piece of correspondence. It confirms that the IOF Ethics Panel knows that they have no right to investigate journalistic activity, yet they intend to do so.

In fact, the letter suggests that in their interpretation almost anybody who ever attended a larger orienteering event may get investigated by the IOF Ethics Panel for anything the Panel wants to investigate them for the rest of their life.
Apr 12, 2019 12:54 PM # 
With the inspiration and motivation of the IOF leadership and the IOF Ethics Panel I dug deeper into the IOF AD numbers. Unfortunately, more questions popped up.

• There are discrepancies between IOF AD numbers in different publications, and numbers for different years were apparently calculated according to different methodology.

• No information on the IOF’s 2018 AD activities as of 12 April 2019. The 2016 IOF AD report was published in December 2016. The 2017 report was published on 1 January 2018. This delay looks very interesting after the launch of ethics investigation on questions around the 2018 AD numbers.

• In January 2019 the IOF Council minutes stated the IOF AD Fund "had not been completely used during 2018" due to fewer tests. Yet, the IOF Ethics Panel is still investigating this blog for a post that discussed the impression that fewer tests were done and less money was spent on AD than collected for the "AD Fund".

Did the IOF forget to inform the Ethics Panel that the questions this blog raised, in fact, had some basis? Or does the IOF think that asking questions about IOF AD activities is an ethical offence on its own?
Apr 12, 2019 1:56 PM # 
Mr Wonderful:
Think of how much closer the IOF will be to the Olympic dream after they finish investigating a blog!
May 7, 2019 6:31 AM # 
Talking about the Olympic Dream: Adieu, Paris 2024!

There will be no orienteering in Paris on the Olympics in 2024. No surprise there.

The interesting bit is how the IOF leadership (did not) communicate the non-delivery of a key objective of their Goal 2020. It is in stark contrast with all the emphasis they put on the Olympic Ambition in the 2018 General Assembly documents, and all the effort that went into the overall process.

Is there any reason for this imbalance between communication to the IOF General Assembly and the general orienteering public?

The situation made me remember the old Russian joke about Napoleon’s admiration of Pravda, the newspaper of the Soviet Communist Party.
May 7, 2019 9:51 AM # 
Maybe now a shift to SMART goals can occur.
May 14, 2019 2:57 PM # 
Newest target on the winding path to tranqui… errr… olympics: ensure ski-o is part of Universiade 2021 in Switzerland.
Twist to the story: orienteering needs to pay roughly 500,000 Swiss Francs to the OC to be considered for inclusion. But if ski-o is included, then chances are good we're in to stay, because rules say new sports thrice present stay, and after first-time 2019 in Krasnoyarsk the organisers of 2023 in America have apparently already committed to including ski-o.
So, anybody got any spare change?
Jun 18, 2019 1:53 PM # 
Sorry, I missed this, but looks very interesting, indeed. It seems that the IOF Council has already offered a guarantee of €50,000 ~ CHF 56,000.

Nice to see in the Council minutes #194 that at least one member (the new Finnish one) has expressed his reservations to spend IOF money this way.

The $64,000 question, whether participation on the Winter Universiade improves the olympic chances in any meaningful way, is quietly forgotten...
Jun 18, 2019 5:32 PM # 
Meanwhile, of course, the IOF champagne bottles are all plopping to celebrate the new, bigger and better than ever, fantasmabolical WOD-record!
Jun 18, 2019 8:47 PM # 
I could not find an official announcement of the results neither on the IOF, nor on the WOD webpage. The last piece of news is 9 days old announcing that 10 June is the last day to report results. Nothing since.
Jun 19, 2019 2:48 AM # 
Do the figures just account for WOD or was it the whole week this year? Kind of inflates the numbers if so.
Jun 19, 2019 9:05 AM # 
@stalas: go to , click on "News" at the top,
go to page two with the little blue left arrow at the bottom of the page.
So even before deadline, they are starting up the record-news-machine.

@tRicky: yes, this years numbers are for the WOW, even if it's still called WOD.
Jun 19, 2019 4:59 PM # 
@jSh: I am looking for the official final result, not just one of the "new record" announcements

In fact, they started the record-news-machine even before reaching the 2018 number :D
New record at 352,402 on 31 May
Another new record at 358,800 on 2 June - when they "passed the old record from last year" of 358,735

So how did they set a new record at 325,402 2 days earlier???

It would be funny, if it would not be my favourite sport
Jun 19, 2019 6:43 PM # 
I also orienteered twice during WOW week so am I two separate people in that stat? Incidentally that was a new record for me too, having never orienteered on WOD before.
Jun 21, 2019 1:12 PM # 
@tRicky, the stats are made up (in the real sense) by whoever registers participant-numbers for WOD-events on the WOD-website (and no, I am not claiming any "adjustments" are made after that by anybody).
So it's quite possible some participants are counted multiple times - in fact, even when WOD was really a day, an event with multiple rounds might have registered "rounds run" instead of "participants".
Jul 7, 2019 8:37 PM # 

After an 8 month long process on 28 May the venerable Ethics Panel has informed me in a letter dated 24 May that they could find no solid ground to start formal action against a post published on this blog. There was not a single statement or fact in the post that required correction, or could have been used as a basis for formal action. The case is closed, forget it.

My legal adviser referred to the overall process as “funny”.
I think it was more than sad.

The interesting bit that warrants a longer post is the style of the letter of the highly respected Ethics Panel. It has reminded me of the style of Soviet bloc communication right after the Chernobyl incident, when it was clear that something was seriously wrong, but communist authorities desperately tried to hide it:
– A positive picture projected with no tangible substance, no hard numbers to support it;
– A blatant disregard of facts and information that may contradict the projected picture;
– A call to check facts and avoid spreading rumours, but without providing a single fact or suggesting a reliable source for information.

I am grateful to the highly respected Ethics Panel for evoking long forgotten memories of my youthful years.
Jul 7, 2019 9:14 PM # 
I told you. You & IOF should find a way to close this thread. :)
Jul 8, 2019 7:11 AM # 
I for one am grateful for the scrutiny, and the publication, of views of the behaviour of our major institutions. In other spheres of life I am hearing, and want to hear, allegations of unethical behaviour by our military, by our banking institutions, and by the medical profession, to name a few topical ones. I want to hear these views and will make up my own mind about them.
Jul 8, 2019 10:55 AM # 
You should thank the IOF that he will not send you to Gulag , in northern Siberia, to promote orienteering there. :)
More seriously, thank you for the courage to have a critical but constructive position. Many of us prefer to ignore or not see problems for convenience or cowardice, and to treat those who have courage as "strange persons". Critical positions are more constructive than laudatory ones, but only for those who want to accept criticism.
Jul 9, 2019 8:37 AM # 
Thanks for the moral support :-)

Unfortunately, at the current level of IOF transparency there are more things to write about than time I have :-(
Jul 14, 2019 9:26 PM # 

Over the past couple of months there were three apparently contradicting statements made by highly respected bodies of the IOF about the use of Anti-Doping monies in 2018.

The audited 2018 Annual Report signed in April 2019 appears to be in contradiction with the Council minutes of January 2019. In return, the statement made by the Ethics Panel in May 2019 appears to be in contradiction with the 2018 Annual Report.

The honesty and professionalism of these bodies are unquestionable. The apparent contradictions are part magic, part mystery. The IOF Anti-Doping finances are surrounded by magical mystery.
Aug 7, 2019 9:45 AM # 
Update on the mystery of IOF Anti-Doping Finances

Information received from the IOF confirms that based on the IOF Annual Report orienteering folks cannot understand how the IOF spends the special €60,000 or so Anti-Doping tax collected from athletes and organisers.

In addition, there is no 2018 Anti Doping report published (as of 6 August 2019), no details published on the use of the special “AD Fund”, and apparently no questions asked by member Federations sticking to the good old “just pay without questions” attitude.

Athletes and organisers may have to remain satisfied for the time being by just paying whatever the IOF leadership decides in the name of a good cause.
Aug 7, 2019 8:23 PM # 
Hahaha no, I'm still uncertain just why I'm paying a 30 Euro annual fee to declare that I don't take drugs.
Aug 12, 2019 3:29 PM # 
On the April Council meeting a financial guarantee of €50,000 was decided to support the inclusion of SkiO in the Winter Universiade. Unusually, two members asked to note their reservation, but the majority voted to support the Swiss organisers.

There are three questions the Presidents of Member Federations may want to discuss this week in Norway:
1) Is there really extra money available for the IOF to spend?
2) Does the Council have the right to introduce a new item to the approved Budget?
3) Is this the most useful way to spend any extra money that may be available?

Some answers and some more questions in the post.
Dec 23, 2019 12:36 PM # 
New post after a while: Reflections after the events in China

While working on my post I had to realize that the questions facing international orienteering related to the events in China are so complex and multifaceted that they cannot be jammed into a single post. So here I just touch on each and every aspect, but intend to devote separate posts to each of them over the next couple of weeks. The topics are ranging from IOF event quality to the IOF controlling system; from the respect of the athletes’ view to athletes’ trust in the system, and the role of the Ethics Panel that was left holding the baby; and from strategic relationship with China to the limits to growth of international orienteering.

The overall situation is similar to poorly managed companies that face a breakdown after embarking on ambitious expansion plans. I worked with some in my professional career, and believe me, it is not fun to see them breaking down soon after they start to feel happy about their prospects. The issues swept under the carpet by management for years stay under the carpet until the strain of increased demand on the organisation exposes them.

On a positive note, the IOF strategy to raise the profile of orienteering through large multi-sport events (CISM, Universiade, World Games etc) is working. Orienteering was mentioned even on Fox News, currently the most influential US news channel, and featured in a large number of publications worldwide from the Guardian in the UK to the Bangkok Post. I guess this is how PR success looks like.
Dec 24, 2019 8:22 AM # 
...Fox News, currently the most influential US news channel...

Only with a segment of the population that has relatively few overlaps with O-inclined/receptive demographics.
Dec 24, 2019 12:39 PM # 
That's why it is a remarkable PR achievement that even they mentioned orienteering ;-)
Dec 24, 2019 4:38 PM # 
It is remarkable that Fox News found the story but there are a couple of aspects that bring it to their 'front burner' (where the important stuff is on the stove).
1) it was a scandal and
2) it involved the Chinese as the alleged guilty party.
Fox media are on campaigns to convince Americans to never trust the Chinese. Anything they can find to illustrate that point they will use, even if it is orienteering.
Dec 24, 2019 8:05 PM # 
Before we get into an in-depth discussion on US media outlets, may I reveal that my comments about the favourite news channel of 45 and about PR success of orienteering were tongue in cheek comments?
Dec 24, 2019 8:28 PM # 
“Fox media are on campaigns to convince Americans to never trust” .... scientists, medical doctors, gun control lobbyists, democrats, and heck anybody from a country with universal healthcare.

for Canadians reading this remember that Stephen Harper (former Canadian right wing Prime Minister) tried to repeal a law that forbids lying on Canadian broadcast news. Canadian regulators wouldn’t allow it.
Dec 24, 2019 11:46 PM # 
Well, what can you expect from the nation that once burned down the White House and vandalized Washington. Still loyal to the Queen of England, they grudge American Independence.
Dec 25, 2019 1:39 AM # 
Wasn't the Canadians that burned the White House or vandalized Washington. Our ancestors were too busy defending our own areas along the St Lawrence, Niagara and Detroit rivers.
And we certainly don't (be)grudge American Independence. By giving them an 80 year head start we were able to see what worked and what didn't work in a federal system. So we kept the parliamentary system and rejected the idea of an electoral college. But what has all this to do with orienteering?
Dec 25, 2019 2:27 AM # 
I thought it was aliens that blew up the White House. President Pullman saved the day there.
Dec 25, 2019 5:45 AM # 
"But what has all this to do with orienteering?"

Sounds like a bunch of opinionated orienteers, myself included, can agree about Fox News moreso than on any other oienteering subject.
Dec 25, 2019 5:10 PM # 
Fox News believes in 1:15,000.
Dec 25, 2019 5:37 PM # 
Fox News believes there are only two poles: North and South
Dec 25, 2019 10:00 PM # 
Fox News reminds you that the map was definitely wrong.
Jan 5, 2020 11:40 AM # 
New post on IOF Event Quality

Serious quality problems are the striking symptoms that something is not right around the IOF major events. The problems in China were only the latest manifestation of a long series of quality problems. In fact, there are few IOF events across all disciplines that did not have quality problems (or luckily avoided “near misses”) that should never occur on our top competitions.

Quality issues keep popping up not for the lack of want to avoid them. Most organisers put in a heroic effort to stage high quality events, but in practice there are many avoidable banana peels that they slip on more often than not. These are typically different banana peels that should have been easily spotted in hindsight, but the abundance of them suggests that the problem is systemic rather than a long series of bad luck or individual errors.

The IOF leadership recognized the problem a while ago. In 2017 the IOF President specifically voiced his expectations that organisers should care more about quality and spend more on it. In practice, the selection of organisers of major FootO is still driven by the “show elements”, because the fundamentals of these events are very different according to the Leibnitz convention.

The client of major IOF FootO events is the TV viewer, not the athlete. This is in stark contrast with all other events, small or large, across all four orienteering disciplines.

There is an interesting development though that we have to watch out for. The new Finnish Council member has shown a particular interest in major event quality. His approach of analysing root causes of problems and learning from failures is something revolutionary to be introduced to the IOF Council. We shall eagerly wait for the outcome of his work.
Jan 10, 2020 11:00 AM # 
The Voice of Athletes vs Keeping Up Appearances

After the issues in China the FootO Athletes Commission had enough. They wrote a statement to the IOF leadership requesting changes to ensure more fairness for athletes on major events. They received an apology from the IOF President for the problems and a promise of a reply after discussions. So far so good.

Unfortunately, the track record of the IOF Council is not particularly good when it comes to listening to athletes in strategic questions. Probably the most memorable moment was when the IOF Council rejected the unprecedented joint plea of the four Athletes Commissions of all four disciplines in the Autumn of 2013 against the planned "Olympic style" prize givings with only the 3 medalists on the podium. The athletes wanted to keep top 6 on the podium. The Council rejected the athletes because "orienteering strives to become an Olympic sport and Council would like the award ceremony to mirror that of the Olympic Games."

No money was involved, and no external demand. Just a choice between "Keeping Up Appearances" and the request of the athletes. It was a pure ego trip. One may call this an old story. Yet, 8 of the 11 Council members today, including the President and the three Vice Presidents, were amongst the ones who voted against the unprecedented joint plea of all athletes commissions in 2013. Did those 8 Council members change their attitude towards the athletes since 2013?

Recently the Council announced an initiative to modify the IOF Statutes to include one or two (gender balanced) athletes as voting members of the Council. This was apparently triggered by the governance audit that showed that the IOF does not follow one trend amongst international federations. Does this new initiative to include athletes in the Council represents a new approach to athletes, or is it just another manifestation of the keeping up appearances approach? Is it done for genuine interest to work with the athletes, or just to make the IOF look better to the outside world?
Jan 10, 2020 4:30 PM # 
Serious quality problems are the striking symptoms that something is not right..

Congratulations! You are in the right place, bringing up the quality issues...
Jan 30, 2020 8:18 PM # 
New post related to the IOF Fair Play survey

The IOF has launched a Fair Play survey asking for assistance from the global orienteering community in getting answers to a number of questions about Fair Play. The IOF’s intention is to create a values-based education tool around topics of Fair-play, and to connect this via a certification to the IOF Athletes Licence. This is an interesting idea that suggests that sitting through a multiple choice test may become part of the IOF Athletes License process.

This broad based survey is a very interesting initiative, but as often with IOF initiatives, it raises a large number of questions looking for answers. The post looks into some of the most interesting ones, like the objective of the survey, whether orienteering is an inclusive sport that welcomes all types of athletes or not, and whether the IOF is working on a solution without making sure that they got the right question.

I believe that testing athletes on the knowledge of the Rules and their interpretation is not a substitute for the deterioration of a community driven Fair Play culture. One may argue that currently the strongest single force working against Fair Play may be the post-Leibnitz strategy of the IOF, the move from a “we for us” culture to a media oriented culture.

Nothing undermines more a community based Fair Play culture than the commercialization of the sport and Olympic inclusion. The higher the stakes, the more money involved (both nationally and internationally), the weaker the community spirit becomes, and the stronger is the incentive to break the written and unwritten rules of Fair Play.
Mar 4, 2020 5:25 PM # 
The long awaited Ethics Panel decisions on the China events in October 2019 have been published yesterday on the IOF website. These are important not only because of the specific rulings regarding the events in question, but also for their implicit guidance to the whole international orienteering community.

Some key points with implications beyond the actual decisions:
- The IOF Ethics Panel confirmed that they see their jurisdiction covering events and athletes with no formal ties to the IOF, just because they engage in an activity called orienteering;
- The IOF Ethics Panel may not only conduct a trial in absentia, but according to their report it seems that may make even no effort to contact the individuals subject to their investigation, thus one may get sanctioned without given a chance to defend themselves;
- The plea of acting “under orders” is a strong mitigating factor for cheating athletes, at least when they are associated with military organisations;
- The IOF Ethics Panel keeps using undisclosed (maybe even unwritten) procedural rules to decide on cases, especially when it comes to the standard of proof required;
- The IOF Ethics Panel encourages the IOF Council to regulate social media through fair play rules;
- The IOF Ethics Panel is not transparent in their activities; some lengthy investigations may never get disclosed for reasons unknown, yet inconvenience the subjects of the investigation.
Mar 5, 2020 12:23 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
@stalas, I did of course read the report and imho, they pretty much ended up with the only possible conclusions: The CISM cheating was so blatant that it was proven beyond any reasonable doubt, and it was also quite clear that the chinese military participants were acting under orders, so they got half the suspension of those that could be identified as being in charge.

For the WC race it was also quite likely that cheating occurred, but the forensic analysis of split times (or videos of runners with extremely short map reading times) was not sufficient to prove this.
Mar 5, 2020 10:25 PM # 
But if you read the report about the WC enquiry, extremely little forensic analysis was actually performed, even if many persons involved were certainly easily reachable and known to the IOF.
There was no query to the very well-known czech TV producer if he maybe had the recording going well before broadcast started (which would be highly probable to check camera positions and signal cables).
There was no query to the GPS guys (Danish) to ask for hints of handing over anything to replacement runners mid-course (knowing that cameras were not live yet).
There was no query to anybody involved in the timing and punch evaluation (German) to ask if anything pointed to technical manipulation.
The report from the Czech advisor to the Chinese organisers was disregarded as conflict of interest, even though he has a history of involvement in Chinese PWT and could give good insight into cultural aspects.
That same advisor, together with another Czech, printed the maps on-site. No interview with them to evaluate possible data breaches.
Also no queries to the four European test-runners, the Swiss online-control team, any well-known athletes, coaches, even (gasp!) the potentially surprising-results athletes themselves.
There were so many straws to grasp. Not one was.
Instead, the formal referral by the IOF president was fairly squarely thrown back at him as "too imprecise".
NOTE: I am *not* accusing anybody of cheating. I'm just saying the enquiry was very... uhm... shallow.
Mar 5, 2020 11:27 PM # 
Terje, on the CISM the issue is not whether there was cheating or not. The issue is that the Ethics Panel (according to their own report!) committed a serious breach of the IOF Code of Ethics. The Code of Ethics clearly states that if there is a hearing, each party has the right to be represented, to respond, and to present evidence and witnesses. According to the report of the Ethics Panel there was no attempt to contact the Chinese individuals or their superiors. They were not given even a symbolic chance to exercise their rights. Is this acceptable??? Not to mention that the 12 organisers were summarily banned for 4 years for "their various actions" - an argument that gives the feeling of "insufficient precision" when it comes to a rather serious sanction.

Regarding the WCup jSh has listed above some of the very basic steps that were never done. Whether that was the responsibility of the Ethics Panel or some other IOF body is a question that can (and shall) be debated. But the core issue is much more basic:
The Ethics Panel "concluded that there is insufficient precision in the referral" - yet there is no sign that they ever tried to contact the IOF leadership between 1 November and 2 March to ask for any improvement in the precision of the referral, any clarification or additional data. They only sent an email to the IOF telling them to speak only when spoken to. They asked no further questions. The whole process does not give the feeling that they really tried to dig deeper into this matter.
Jun 1, 2020 4:05 PM # 
I was subjected to a special privilege by the IOF: I received an honorary mention with full name in the XXX. IOF Congress documents in one of the reports.

This is no small thing. A casual glance suggests that I might be the only one with no IOF function or candidacy who was subjected to this privilege. This comes within few months after the President of the IOF has mentioned my name in his speech on the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of the Hungarian Orienteering Federation as one of those who made a significant contribution to international orienteering.

I am flattered.
Jun 22, 2020 8:54 AM # 
Orienteering Fair Play in practice

Since the Unfortunate Events in China the IOF has put lots of emphasis on Fair Play. A worldwide Fair Play Survey was launched and a project has been initiated to create a values-based education tool around topics of Fair Play, and to connect this via a certification to the IOF Athletes License. For the upcoming IOF General Assembly the Finnish Orienteering Federation has also submitted a proposal to "save the culture and Fair play of our sport" referring to the events in China as "an excellent wake-up for orienteers who believe in trust and in the sport's own strong culture".

All good stuff. Albeit, it feels somewhat theoretical. Everybody knows the right answer, or at least everybody can learn it. It is a bit like asking people in a Sunday school if it is acceptable to sin or is it better to read the Bible; or upon a top university entry exam if racism is tolerable. It is very unlikely that one gets the answer wrong.

This blog, trying to be helpful as always, would like to introduce the possibility of using real life situations from actual events to discuss fair play questions. For making the discussion more practical, there are three situations taken from the IOF's flagship World Orienteering Championships from 2015 to 2018 to ensure that the situations described are real life cases in international elite orienteering.

The three cases from the WOCs discussed in the post are as follows:
• 2018: a Danish Spectator
• 2017: a Swedish Trailer
• 2015: a Scottish Favourite
Jun 22, 2020 10:25 AM # 
a Scottish Favourite

Sean Connery gave up acting in 2003.
Jun 23, 2020 10:00 PM # 
Ricky, believe me, putting together the bits and pieces was as intriguing as a James Bond film - though, sadly, far less entertaining :-(
Jun 26, 2020 6:14 PM # 
Today the IOF has announced the preparation for the first Unofficial World eOrienteering Championships later in 2020.

It is unclear though what, when, and how will be organised. The objective is urgent control over the evolving eOrienteering landscape as stated in the Council minutes. It is a late wake up call to deal with something that has been around for years, but now it is so urgent that the Council decided even to violate the IOF's Statutes with pushing through a unlawfully late proposal on the inclusion of eSports.

Yet, the question "who benefits" from this panicky rush has no clear answer.

There is no doubt that eSports and within that eOrienteering is an important development that should be managed. Yet when actions are taken hastily as if in a panic, one risks causing unintended harm to the cause, especially when we are talking about something as new and as unfamiliar as eSports. We have to wait with interest and hope to see positive developments.
Jun 27, 2020 1:35 AM # 
Interesting. I recall the case of endurance orienteering a couple of decades ago. There was a one-off series of some sort in 2000 I think, in which the World Rogaining Championship run here was one round. We saw this as a way of bringing together rogaine and mountain marathon communities of interest. Both of which contained people who staunchly avoided the other format, in spite of the similarity of physical and navigational demands. I may be wrong but I think the IOF went from claiming jurisdiction over rogaining to abandonment. And I don't know how it saw mountain marathons.
Jun 27, 2020 5:00 AM # 
Maybe they have forgotten that with many forms of virtual and DIY orienteering in the current environment, some people just want to have some fun that involves various aspects of orienteering. Maybe we do not want to be manged from afar.
Jul 3, 2020 1:27 PM # 
Zero Tolerance and Zero Sensitivity

The IOF maintains Zero Tolerance against doping in orienteering, and rightly so. Yet, until the outcry after the Unfortunate Events in China, Fair Play was treated with near Zero Sensitivity by the IOF leadership. In fact, reduced attention to Fair Play was (is?) seen as an acceptable price for the IOF's Olympic Dream and more media friendly strategy.

The impact on results could be just as significant, and often even bigger when it comes to information doping. No chemical doping would have helped an athlete to get a World Championship medal after losing 4 minutes to the winner on the first 20% of a course simply on orienteering speed, without a major mistake.

After my recent post on Orienteering Fair Play in Practice I received some very interesting private messages on the extent of the Fair Play Problem. Some comments pointed out the similarity between the Anti-Doping and Fair Play attitudes amongst elite athletes to the one used by athletes using doping in doping infested sports, like road cycling.

"If others are doing everything they can get away with to gain some advantage, I should also do everything I can get away with - just to stay competitive!"

And when it comes to Fair Play in Orienteering, one can get away with a lot even in front of the IOF leadership as discussed in the examples in my recent post. Well, a lot if you are not from an "uncivilised" new nation.
Jul 3, 2020 4:30 PM # 
It's not easy to have "zero tolerance" when the violation itself is not clearly defined. There is zero tolerance against entering forbidden areas, for example - if you are caught, you are disqualified, no matter what country you are from (except perhaps if you can argue the map was not up to the standard). With doping, there is a clearly defined list of substances that you cannot take. With following, if someone caught up with you and there is only one feasible route, then inevitably you will run together for some time. At what point does it become "following" and should be punishable? It's a judgement call and then, if it's enforced, there will always be accusations of unfairness.
Jul 3, 2020 6:21 PM # 
Sure. I've been around orienteering for a while to know that it is not easy. But the current gap between attitudes to chemical doping and fair play violation is a bit too large I would say.

"It is against the rules to follow, but if you do, and get a medal on the World Championship, then we congratulate you for your result!"

Just does not sound right...
Jul 3, 2020 6:24 PM # 
At the risk of opening another can of worms... What would you propose (beyond the techniques already being implemented to cut down on following)? It's really easy to point out problems when you are not responsible for finding the solution.
Jul 3, 2020 7:31 PM # 
There is zero tolerance against entering forbidden areas
Except e.g. Daniel Hubmann's WOC sprint gold 2017.
Everyone agreed that running into a forbidden area, turning, and running back out was fair play. Rule 2.7 applies above all others
2.7 Sporting fairness shall be the guiding principle in the interpretation of these rules by competitors, organisers and the jury.
I don't understand why, but one seldom hears the athletes complain about running together.
Jul 3, 2020 8:06 PM # 
"I don't understand why, but one seldom hears the athletes complain about running together."....
Until it causes unexpected athletes to get on a podium that they wouldn't have done without the following. Juniors complain about following all the time but as we get older we are taught that it is a tactic and if you have the running ability to follow someone good on the world stage then you apparently deserve to be there, over someone who is actually a good orienteer and can do it by themself but can't keep up with runners if they were caught at woc.
There have been many situations where I've heard complaining after races, it's normally from the runners with a lower world ranking who have started first, run a whole long course by themself and realised at the end of the day that 90% of the field ran with someone.
Jul 3, 2020 9:39 PM # 
Boris, Yes, I am part responsible for finding a solution, together with another - probably - couple of hundred people who feel responsible for the future of our sport at international level.

I fully understand that spectators are annoyed by the ones who raise issues that are comfortably swept under the carpet. But the process of finding a solution starts with pointing out that there are problems that need to be solved.

Fair Play is a complex problem that does not have a simple solution. Any solution will be a compromise. But the planned "educational tool" will not bring us much closer to a solution than telling people to read Bible instead of committing sins.
Jul 4, 2020 2:48 PM # 
"It is against the rules to follow, but if you do, and get a medal on the World Championship, then we congratulate you for your result!"

Is it against the rules? I am struggling to find any rules that explicitly forbid following. The closest I can find are:

1.2 In individual interval start races the competitors navigate and run through the terrain independently.

2.7 Sporting fairness shall be the guiding principle in the interpretation of these rules by competitors, organisers and the jury.

26.2 Except in the case of an accident, seeking to obtain or obtaining assistance from other runners or providing assistance to other competitors during a competition is forbidden. It is the duty of all competitors to help injured runners.

If you interpret "obtaining assistance" in 26.2 as 'following' then the runner being followed could also conceivably be punished for 'providing assistance'. ;)

The first step in combating the 'problem of following might be to acknowledge it exists by having a clear rule that both defines and forbids it.
Jul 4, 2020 3:13 PM # 
From OA event manual:

3.8 Route choices

Alternative routes force competitors to use the map to assess the terrain and to draw conclusions from it. Route choices make competitors think independently and will split up the field, thus minimising ‘following’.

Seems to imply it's the job of the course setter to set a good course and stop people from following!
Jul 4, 2020 3:21 PM # 
A little history on recent protests against 'following'

At WOC 2009 in Hungary a runner (lets call him X) ran a significant portion of the long course with gold medalist Daniel Hubbman and came 3rd. (They started 4 min apart so any 'butterflies' would not have split them up.) In the post race interview X admitted that in the last part of the race he was so tired that he no longer navigated independently (I don't remember his exact words but that was the gist of it). The Finnish team coach protested - a Finn was in fourth place. The protest was dismissed but I heard the jury vote was 3-2 so quite close. (That is just hearsay - if I have that wrong I would be happy to be corrected)

Also at WOC 2005 in Japan there was protest against a runner in the men's Long for 'following'. It was dismissed.
Jul 4, 2020 3:55 PM # 
Interestingly in the 2007 IOF rules, rule 26.2 (equivalent of the current 1.2) said:

26.2 In an individual interval start race, competitors shall navigate and run through the terrain independently. (my emphasis)

If I recall correctly, that small but significant change in wording (removing "shall') was made shortly after the 2009 protest I mentioned above. My feeling at the time was that it was in response to the near success of that protest. But I have no way knowing that for sure.

In any case that change in wording effectively means it is now much harder to disqualify anyone for not navigating independently (ie following).
Jul 4, 2020 4:17 PM # 
I fully agree that one of the basic things to be sorted out is a clear set of rules. The current approach of loosening rules and practices, but introducing butterflies in interval start races do not really give the impression of clear leadership. It is closer to hypocrisy one can observe in religious and political organisations.

So let's imagine an athlete on WOC stopping 10m from the start flag to have a long close look at the map for 2 or 4 minutes.

Is it a fair play violation? Or is he expected to get at least to the first control independently to be celebrated if he gets a WOC medal?
Jul 4, 2020 9:47 PM # 
On the 2nd day of the 2016 US Interscholastic & Intercollegiate Champs, held near Cincinnati, OH, a HS Varsity runner complained that another competitor had followed. Event officials took a look at the actual times (using AP) of the runners in question and saw that, after a control early in the course, the alleged follower was consistently 20 seconds or less behind the followee.

The next day, they confronted the coach and athlete with the evidence. The following was denied, but a Sporting Withdrawal was offered and accepted.
Jul 5, 2020 6:22 PM # 
Group running benefits both runners there's no incentive to split up. So route choice legs help stop groups forming, but are not so good for breaking them up.
If it was illegal, then the rules would give instructions for what you need to do if you find yourself running with someone else (like no-drafting rules in cycling).
Jul 5, 2020 11:33 PM # 
Am I accurate in seeing a contradiction between event design to reduce the benefits of following and event design to maximise spectator excitement? In the former, one would seed the draw to split the strongest competitors, and maximise the start interval. In designing for an arena experience, the preference would be to reduce the start interval and have the strongest competitors starting last in a red group. Or does the creation of a red group mean only the strongest competitors get to follow each other?
Jul 6, 2020 12:52 AM # 
There is a long list of illegal activities within orienteering with no specific instruction for what you need to do if you find yourself in that situation, e.g. if somebody trips you in the forest, or if somebody bodychecks you at the control.

You are right that better media and spectator "experience" is likely to create situations where fair play violations are more likely. The IOF very consciously made that trade-off at the expense of fair play starting in 2000 with the Leibnitz Convention.

The Red Group (and in MTBO also the Orange Group before the Red) has two main objectives:
a) create an arena experience, a grand finale when the likely medal winners finish within a predictable, relatively short time period (even without reducing the start interval);
b) avoid "accidental" medals going to weaker athletes who have the speed to follow and got lucky with a good draw.

My impression is that most following happens in the middle of the field, not within the Red Group, but I never did the analysis.
Jul 6, 2020 4:08 AM # 
Your examples (tripping, bodychecking) are not the same as following, because it is quite clear that if someone does one of those actions intentionally, they should be sanctioned. In the case of following, it wouldn't be fair for the athlete behind to stop and wait for the other athlete to get out of sight, or alternatively take a different (potentially less good) route choice.
Jul 6, 2020 7:42 AM # 
Those were examples for other fair play violations where rules give no instructions what to do. Just to point out to Graeme that lack of clear instructions on what to do does not mean that is legal.

In general, an "accepted" practice does not mean that it is legal or that it is not a violation of fair play. Just think about traffic rules ;-)
Jul 6, 2020 8:45 AM # 
Those examples are about people doing bad stuff to you, which doesn't even improve their time. What to do is clear: if you see someone trippable, you don't trip them up. If you see somebody you could bodycheck, you don't bodycheck them.
But if you find yourself running the best route alongside someone else, you might think you're violating fair play - but what do you do?

And yes, I did the analysis, in detail, there's just as much pack running in the red group as anywhere else.
Jul 6, 2020 11:20 AM # 
It could well improve their position in a relay. Unfortunately near control situations in sharp relay (and knockout) competitions are prone to fair play violations.

But following is just one, though probably most debatable aspect of Fair Play. There are many other situations from friendly spectators showing controls to organising WOC events in areas well known to some participants that just not do not get any attention, though they can influence results as much or even more than chemical doping.
Jul 6, 2020 11:30 AM # 
My tactic in a knockout competition is to run a completely different route to the first control from the other five competitors and then be so far behind that whatever I do after that doesn't matter anymore.
Jul 7, 2020 12:37 AM # 
"My impression is that most following happens in the middle of the field, not within the Red Group, but I never did the analysis."
2016 woc long distance in the women... 1st and 3rd, 2nd and 4th.
Jul 7, 2020 2:07 AM # 
Nice example, but neither proves or disproves the hypothesis :-)
Also 2017 WOC Long men - I wrote about in an earlier post, where the bronze medal was won somebody who trailed for 2/3 of the course soon after control #4 with 4 minutes behind.

But it shows that medals are won by athletes who take external help, and the honest (or unlucky?) athlete who run alone are disadvantaged.

The IOF maintains zero tolerance to protect the clean athletes from the ones who use chemical doping; but does not give a flying flamingo about protecting the clean athletes who run alone from the ones who cooperate or just follow a better one in the forest.
Jul 7, 2020 6:32 AM # 
The only way I see possibility to eliminate following is to have a strict rules. When someone is overtaken you are out of the race. e-system shouldn't be a problem. Start interval maybe a minute more.
Jul 7, 2020 7:30 AM # 
That would be unfortunate for many of the participants. I think I've been overtaken in every World MTBO Champs that I've ridden in (well maybe not some of the sprints). How about mass start events where you've got no choice but to follow out of the start?

What happens if the person who would otherwise have finished second gets overtaken by the first place getter? Seems a bit dumb that you'd give second to someone else instead.
Jul 7, 2020 7:56 AM # 
The draw would become very important with that rule.
Jul 7, 2020 8:27 AM # 
@stalas. Doping and following are not the same type of issues. Doping is easily defined. List of forbidden substances and if you take it you're out. Try to agree on a definition of following and the debate would never end. And without a definition it will be hard to have a strict rule. Alternatively do as Kofols propose and just say if you're caught you're out, but that just flips the fairness issues around. No matter which way you look at following there will be fairness problems. You just have to find the sweet spot of all the aspects involved and live with it. I don't think the IOF "does not give a flying flamingo" about following. Please propose a concrete solution and demonstrate how that doesn't introduce fairness issues in a different way.
Jul 7, 2020 8:36 AM # 
Declaring following as a legitimate tactic for athletes would also be an option. Much better than the current wishy-washy approach.

It would be a different sport though with trail runners with a lucky draw waiting at the start flag for their navigator to start. But no bigger deviation than city sprint from the original concept of a long, lonely struggle in the forest.
Jul 7, 2020 9:52 AM # 
Longer start intervals would help: I'm in favour of a fairer race (i.e. more alone time) than worrying about TV.
A camera at the start flag, or no. 1 with a rule saying no waiting might also help. I'm not sure there are that many "trail runners" who would purposely seek to go to the World Orienteering Championships so that they could (a) get a favourable draw and (b) wait at the start. And that's not even considering qualification races.
Jul 7, 2020 10:17 AM # 
We can't forbid the following.
This (not a) problem is 99% relevant to long course.
So we can increase the start interval to attenuate impact. 3' + butterflies is probably enough.
But this is unattractive to the spectator and elongates total competition time, and isn't fair because of temperature changes and possible rain showers.
But we can apply hard qualification and reduce the field to i.e. 30 participants. 3'-4' start interval + butterfly.
Bingo. This is the fair play final. With only few nations taking part in the fair play final.
Jul 7, 2020 10:21 AM # 
Every suggestion will introduce other issues. Typically they're small compared to the well-measured effects of following, but people are super-averse to any new form of unfairness.

Before you even start, you need to decide the problem in following per se (e.g. in open races - seeing people at the control), or the unfairness that some people run a lot of the race in the same groups, others alone. Some schemes (butterflies) increase the amount of pack running, but spread it more equally. Triathlon requires cyclists to drop back and not draft. Similarly, with ePunching it would be easy to allow a runner to stop-and-wait 30sec at control if caught (then off goes the bleating about the huge advantage of a rest, what if someone else arrives, yada yada). A spectator control/map exchange could allow a 30sec minimum rest with the race continuing from a 30 sec minimum start interval. All these introduce new unfairness, which is easy to test if more or less than the existing advantage of following (blind following is estimated as about 8% maximum speedup, so in a 90min race with 3 min start interval "Wait at the start" might save you 4mins or so.).

This is all well-known to the IOF - they commissioned a report here - but flamingos or otherwise, everything suggests they don't regard following as cheating.
Jul 7, 2020 10:31 AM # 
A appreciation on how the IOF leadership handled the Fair Play situation - a much, much broader problem than just following.

The IOF leadership performed at world class level handling the Fair Play Issue. I have to admire the use of modern management techniques by the IOF to handle this complex situation. We shall hope that on the General Assembly this week (8 and 10 July) member federations will also recognise this achievement.

Orienteering athletes who aim for a professional career can benefit a lot from studying how the IOF leadership avoided to deal with the very difficult problem of Fair Play, while taking control of the situation.

Critics may point out that that the focus of the IOF management was not on solving the Fair Play Problem in orienteering. There was no sign of any specific investigation or data collection to understand how widespread the problem is beyond the Unfortunate Events in China. There was no problem analysis, there were no objectives set, no success criteria or boundary conditions defined for any potential solution.

These critics completely miss the point. These days the mainstream management focus, both for public and business administration, is not on solving problems, but on controlling communication and giving the impression that the issue is handled. This was done brilliantly by the IOF leadership.
Jul 7, 2020 10:37 AM # 
@nerimka. This (not a) problem is 99% relevant to long course.

Don't know why you say that - it's really not. Middle is often worse because the short legs and need for followee to slow down in the circle make it almost impossible to get dropped. (Look at any WOC replay to see it - I don't think there's been a WOC where all middle medallists ran alone: it is especially bad in the UK, where we seem to have decided that middle=control pick + hide the flags)
Jul 7, 2020 11:19 AM # 
Perhaps these wishy-washy rules regarding following is in itself a reasonable compromise to an "impossible" problem? At high level events, where there is seeding (based on ranking system) and forking, this allows the jury to set a precedent that in practical reality following is allowed under such circumstances. At the same time the rules maintain that the spirit of the sport is individual navigation (for individual races) and this is important at the local and grassroots level where there is no seeding or forking and a complete non-orienteer really could just follow to top results.
Jul 7, 2020 11:48 AM # 
I've yet to see a reasonable proposed rule-change to make following more defined and more discouraged, and unfortunately I am not able to propose one either.

But I think it's obvious that we should be doing as much as possible to reduce the opportunity for athletes to follow. Or at least the affect it will have. Clearly the most obvious solution to this is to extend the start intervals.
People often imply that we need (or at least the reason for) these shorter intervals is for TV production / spectator experience. I never understand that. The production of events such as WOC has improved signifcantly in recent years, but surely a good producer would be happy to have more time. Every race there are mistakes which could be shown, analysis that could be shown, video footage which could be shown. But it's impossible to show it all because there are so many athletes in the forest in different places at the same time, a longer start interval would give the production team more opportunities.
Also the men's and women's races could easily be a bit more overlapped if they really need to reduce the overall race time. I'm fairly certain they used to be more overlapping, but now are almost completely split, presumably for 'production reasons'.

I really think that, until a better solution is proposed, if we are serious about trying to reduce following, increasing the start interval again is the obvious place to start.
Jul 7, 2020 2:00 PM # 
Is it really a serious problem? Champions are successful over many seasons - and in all the formats. Thierry, Daniel H, Simone, for example. Someone lucky enough to get one good result through running with a better orienteer is almost never heard of again.
Jul 7, 2020 2:15 PM # 
simmo>> Someone lucky enough to get one good result through running with a better orienteer is almost never heard of again.

Exactly. It's almost the opposite. Some very good athletes now have their entire careers defined by a single result with a cloud over it.
Jul 7, 2020 2:43 PM # 
One idea - for many years the USA Championships was a two-day (two race) total-time event. Start order between the races is either reversed or re-randomized. (For spectator friendliness, maybe make the second, or even a third, race a chase start) I've always thought this format was a great way to determine a true champion - it is not dependent on a single race; you must perform consistently well in two separate races, typically on two different maps, potentially even in very different types of terrain. Somebody who has a lucky draw and a great "following" run in one race is very unlikely to repeat the performance. This also spreads out the effect of changing weather - if you have a late (hotter temps?) start on day 1, you have an early (cooler?) start on day 2.
Jul 7, 2020 3:10 PM # 
Ok - not trying to hijack this thread, but I think an interesting, related question is around the effectiveness of measures taken to increase the TV and spectator 'friendliness' of orienteering - that arguably have contributed to some of the fair play/following issues.

I doubt such measures have resulted in more non-orienteers watching or being more interested in our sport. It has simply made things more interesting for the hard core fans and techno-geeks (live tracking, route analysis etc.) And some of these technological advances have perhaps resulted in making the sport seem even more obscure to the non-orienteer.....
Jul 7, 2020 3:18 PM # 
@upnorthguy That is a very valid question, indeed. Many of the Fair Play issues are rooted in the IOF's media and spectator enticing approach.
Jul 7, 2020 3:35 PM # 
Ok - not trying to hijack this thread

This thread has covered so many issues since it first began three years ago that it's not possible to hijack it.
Jul 7, 2020 6:01 PM # 
"I doubt such measures have resulted in more non-orienteers watching or being more interested in our sport. It has simply made things more interesting for the hard core fans and techno-geeks (live tracking, route analysis etc.) And some of these technological advances have perhaps resulted in making the sport seem even more obscure to the non-orienteer...."

This general point applies to multitude of decisions, which have been made for the hard core, and ignorant of implications for the sustainability, much less growth, of the sport.

I am sympathetic to many of he above comments on following, but I believe this is a more important point, worth hijacking/ applying to many other issues.

Thank you Ross
Jul 7, 2020 7:03 PM # 
Agree with Ross and Eric - when has all the emphasis on arenas and spectator friendliness actually attracted any new spectators or participants to the sport? And often at the expense of the course quality! Better to invest all that time and effort directly on getting media coverage (both traditional and social).
Jul 8, 2020 12:51 PM # 
when has all the emphasis on arenas and spectator friendliness actually attracted any new spectators or participants to the sport

In the last 15 years here in Switzerland.

Orienteering worldchamp/worldcup are now live broadcasted on public TV which it wasn't before and it still wouldn't be if it were the same "grass-root" events I remember from the 90ies.

Participation in orienteering events increased only slightly but it is a public sport now being discussed in the coffee break.

This allows a handfull of orienteers to make a living from the sport.

I don't say this should or has to be done compromising the fairness but I want to vote against that the move towards more spectator friendliness has more harmed than helped the development of orienteering.
Jul 12, 2020 4:38 AM # 
I'm dissapointed @stalas
You covered so many aspects of IOF missmanagement but I still can't remember any of your concrete solutions, bad, good or implemented by IOF.

PLEASE MAKE A LIST w/ PROBLEM / SOLUTION to summarize this thread. It will help me/others to understand your views on IOF challanges/decisions.

If your fokus is on rules, please propose at leats one concrete sentence which need to be eliminated with better wording or different solution. Please be practical and not just theorethical because at the end of each debate someone must make a decision and put down a concrete solution.

Also @pi asked you this:
"Please propose a concrete solution and demonstrate how that doesn't introduce fairness issues in a different way."

Jul 12, 2020 9:57 AM # 
"Please propose a concrete solution and demonstrate how that doesn't introduce fairness issues in a different way."
That's not a reasonable ask. It's easy to dream some perceived unfairness for any solution. The best that can ever be achieved is to introduce fairness issues which are less than those you eliminate.
Jul 12, 2020 4:12 PM # 
Re mikee's comment-
To be able to demonstrate growth during the last 2 decades, Switzerland is certainly doing something right, and should be commended, congratulated, and probably copied.
Is there another developed O- country (top twenty) that can claim growth during this period?

However to claim a causal relationship with the emphasis on arenas/spectators is getting into very questionable reasoning.
How does this factor compare with the value of hosting many top level events, and developing many top level orienteerrs, including the highly charismatic Queen of orienteering during this period, competing for, and winning, these championships?

I'll suggest this growth is primarily the result of great execution of a whole lot of fundamental infrastructure work, to produce these events and individuals, not because of following the Leibnitz principles to the extreme.

I don't think anyone posting here is against good looking arenas with great display screens. Yes, our arenas even for local events, are one way we can make a first impression and develop our brand.

However we must also be realistic about the scope of this impact, compared to other channels, including conventional and social media.

When integrity-of-the-sport issues involving fairness and terrain/ course quality are justified or ignored in the name of on-site spectator appeal, something needs to be questioned.
Are we doing X-issue for the benefit of future orienteers, or for our own live-for-the-moment indulgence?
Jul 12, 2020 4:55 PM # 
Is there another developed O- country (top twenty) that can claim growth during this period?

Finland. TV with live GPS tracing made it public sport. Jukola and midweek evening event participation has been growing, a lot. But national event participation has been declining. So clearly we have less die hard competitors and more casual hobby orienteers.
Jul 13, 2020 12:58 AM # 
More local and less regional state sounds a familiar pattern.
Jul 13, 2020 1:08 AM # 
Absolutely - in Australia, local events are doing well as are the biggest national ones that people might target once or twice a year (Jukola would be the obvious Finnish analogue), but the ones in between are struggling.
Jul 13, 2020 10:20 PM # 
@kofols What makes you believe that they listen?
Especially in questions they want to sweep under the carpet like Fair Play?
Or on questionable management practices that they really do not want to talk about?

Shall I entertain you with stories on how many times I tried while being an IOF Commission Chairman to suggest alternatives?

"This is not for discussion, because the Council has not discussed it yet"
"This is not for discussion, because the Council has discussed this topic and decided on this matter." ;-)
Jul 13, 2020 10:30 PM # 
@graeme Yes, that is one of the standard excuses to block change. There are always situations that are unfavourable for somebody, even if overall fairness improves.

One interesting example is the "protection of the clean athlete":
- tremendous effort and resources deployed (and some unfairness introduced) to protect the clean athlete from the ones using chemical doping, because it is forced by IOC/WADA;
- almost nothing done to protect the clean athlete from the ones who use information doping or following/cooperation, because any new solution could result in situations that is perceived by somebody as unfair. So the current very unfair situation for following/cooperation remains unchanged.
Jul 14, 2020 1:56 AM # 
"Shall I entertain you..."
No need, you have been a great enterteiner for the last years. Sorry but I just can't understand your motivation to go on and on and on ... How about to stop, put down your problem/solution list and maybe someone else with different approach will use your solutions and try to be more successfull than you. You have proved that IOF in most cases is old guys netwoork. Do you want changes? Again make a list why someone in IOF is a game changer and other just too good to be true or carees seekers etc. To support your quest, I also see problems on how IOF regulate internal affairs and use power play. It is funny how some people like hierarchy and positions to solve problems instead of a fair play. Your case is a bad PR for IOF and at least president of the Ethnic commission should be out of the game. They lost the batle but officialy you didn't win. So you want to play against them (name it) on open field? Is this personal or do you seek a public appologize from the IOF (tell us). Which (red or blue) pill we need to take? Hope you will not entertain me.
Jul 14, 2020 6:40 AM # 
@kofols Sorry to say, but it seems you did not get the essence of this blog and you look at this as a fight against the IOF leadership. I know that some people in the leadership also propose that and even spread things about me that are factually highly incorrect (I tried to be nice).

You know, former insiders of the Trump administration who write about the issues within are all "underperforming disgruntled employees". ;-)

May I suggest that you go back to my first post on why I started to write this blog?

The first two paragraphs:

I have decided to write this blog because I am concerned about the future of the International Orienteering Federation, and thus the future of international orienteering. There are serious strategic, financial, organizational and moral issues faced by the IOF. I felt the internal discussions to be limited, and critical feedback to be discouraged by the leadership. I am afraid that without change the IOF may go down the path of other disgraced international sports federations.

I resigned from my position in the IOF seeing no chance to bring meaningful improvement – and often not even meaningful discussion – within the existing structures.
Jul 14, 2020 10:22 AM # 
"There are serious strategic, financial, organizational and moral issues faced by the IOF."

I got it. Em, no I still don't. Small leadership mistakes I don't consider "serious". Serious mistakes mean that someone who is in charge take responsibilty for false or wrong doing decisions. If you are just trying to be nice and hoping that selfdestruction is just around the corner then you are really very pesimistic about other people. Long mambo jambo doesn't help either. In the beggining I thought that you will find a way to overtake IOF but over so many blog posts I don't feel that anymore. Hope others like your recent chata chata more then me.
Jul 15, 2020 6:31 AM # 
@kofols: Look at the blog what it is: a journalistic activity.
A combination of investigative journalism and an opinion column.

It is true, though, that these days it is a fashionable approach for people in power to dismiss issues brought up by journalists by claiming "fake news" or claiming that they have "an agenda".
Jul 15, 2020 4:50 PM # 
Great. Then it is all clear. Go on.
Feb 10, 2021 3:30 PM # 
The IOF Council is busy improving Fair Play. In this post I show through the example of EOC 2021 how Fair Play principles can ensure fairness at a new level in our beloved sport.

The case of EOC 2021 is interesting, because some myopic purists may point out that all the course setters listed in Bulletin #2 are associated with the Swiss Team as siblings, coaches, or team mates.

A similar setup may raise eyebrows on an event in China, but that is rightly so. A large, traditional orienteering nation with several thousand years of experience in navigation shall be treated differently by the IOF than a small landlocked nation trying to develop the sport in an inhospitable mountainous environment.
Feb 12, 2021 9:46 AM # 
This is the IOF presentation by Tom Hollowell about Fair Play.
The top priority is to be "bringing a mobile device into quarantine", which would not have been my choice.
Feb 12, 2021 10:46 AM # 
It's funny, in my head orienteering is still this quaint sport where cheating cannot possibly happen because only honest and upstanding people ever take part, and anyway there isn't enough money involved. But I'm sure in real life that isn't true and anyway the line between "making a map off the internet and checking out google earth" and "cheating" can be relatively thin.
Feb 12, 2021 11:14 AM # 

That presentation seems to so completely miss the mark in virtually every way possible. I love that Fair Play 102 applies to ‘more-competitive orienteering’ :)
Feb 12, 2021 11:08 PM # 
At an obvious level, the presentation highlights something that is wrong with our "rules". They are mostly about how competitions are to be organised. The bits about participation are scattered throughout and are very hard to find. Dunno about you, but our national foot-o rules are patterned on the IOF ones, and there's nothing I can give to an orienteer and say "this is what you can and cannot do". That's ridiculous.

(Except for our MTBO rules which set out to overcome this. Maybe the IOF work will come up with something athlete-based here.

At a deeper level, and it may be beyond our international body, is sharing our values. Throughout history we have seen, and continue to see, vast differences in values. Which cause people to do the most awful things in pursuit of country, political system, even religious belief. Sigh.
Feb 12, 2021 11:48 PM # 
There are definitely differences in what's acceptable in terms of a competitor's actions, or at least there used to be. I had heard stories about what happens in Europe, which seemed extreme, but the first time I orienteered there, I experienced exactly what I had heard about, behavior that would be unthinkable in my country. On the other hand, maybe there are things that we do here that would be appalling to people from other places.

The issue of previewing terrain in a virtual sense is one that's getting complicated because of technology. When I was starting out, some competitors (myself included) would sometimes look at the government-issue maps of the area for an upcoming event. It was only a vague approximation of what the actual orienteering map would look like, and it was accepted practice. These days, if there's publicly available lidar for the competition area, you can do a lot better. It's not so much that we were on a slippery slope, but rather that the ground got steep while we were standing on it.
Feb 13, 2021 1:30 AM # 
But is virtual previewing of terrain any different from what happens in most major team sports (and I imagine also 'one on one' sports like tennis) where at the highest levels of competition a lot of time is spent analysing upcoming opponents? In the same way that gives a team the ability to anticipate but not perfectly predict an opponent's play, understanding the terrain allows an orienteer to anticipate but not perfectly predict how the course setter will use it. As long as any information that could be used is equally available or unavailable to all, I see this a question of preparation rather than a fairness issue. In fact now that very few major races are in completely 'fresh' terrain, to NOT allow this sort of preparation would itself create a fairness issue, further emphasising home advantage.
Feb 13, 2021 2:06 AM # 
I'm not suggesting that it shouldn't be done, but rather that it's inevitable, though perhaps more accessible to those with more technical skills. Therefore bringing up the idea that perhaps at least the base map should be published in advance of the competition.
Feb 13, 2021 3:19 PM # 
@jjcote: The slippery slope was the route choice of the IOF leadership to try to commercialize orienteering, chasing fame, money and the Olympics. One may argue that they misjudged how steep it may get, or that worsening weather made it more slippery, or that they as beginners simply took a compass bearing and did not understand the meaning of many closely drawn brown lines.

@gruver: Shared values work in closely knit communities where belonging to the community is the objective, and people follow rules and conventions to be part of the community. The IOF consciously abandoned the "we for us" approach in order to commercialise the sport (Leibnitz convention). That was the beginning of the end. High level politics gives a perfect example how successful people can get by proudly breaking conventions, and how helpless people with values based approaches can get.

@hillanddale: In particular, I loved the 102 case at 17:00 where "Wanda checked the GPS tracks in the toilet in the quarantine, won the race, realised how big advantage she gained, and started to wonder whether to report herself or not"
It is as realistic as it gets...
Feb 13, 2021 4:48 PM # 
In my opinion fair play is for all competitors to have the same opportunity to prepare,
For the last (at least) five WOCs LIDAR maps of the areas have been available so all runners can study the maps. Google maps with aerial photos are available for all to use. The names of the course setters have also been available early in most cases. Potential participants has thus had the opportunity to check earlier courses by the same course planners.
It might have been a problem for some lower level events that this information has not available to all runners, but is certainly no a problem at the highest level.

Knowledge of terrain/maps is of course one point . The other that has been raised is the course setter. To me it is obvious that a curse setter can not be involved with any national team or national team runner. As I read it the problem IOF-reflections is not necessarily any conflict of interest, but that the information can't completely rule out a conflict of interest.
Feb 13, 2021 7:05 PM # 
@BOM: If you talk to your Swiss orienteering friends, you may learn that the 5 course setters of EOC 2021 are associated with athletes in the Swiss national team as a sister, a brother, two coaches, and a team mate. You may decide for yourself whether this is a conflict of interest, or information that can't completely rule out a conflict of interest.

You may also do your research:
Feb 14, 2021 1:00 AM # 
That's likely to be problematic when the WOC is held in smaller countries. When WOC was in the USA in 1993, all three of the course setters were personal friends of at least some of the US team members, and vice versa. Anyone in this country qualified to set courses probably would have been. (Of course, we could have brought in course setter from elsewhere, but that takes away a significant facet of having the event in a different country.)
Feb 14, 2021 7:29 AM # 
Fully agree that there are countries and disciplines where some level of relationship between course setters for major events and national team members is unavoidable. There are many countries where everybody who has a clue about international orienteering is working with the national team. Ours is a small sport, afterall.

Is that a good excuse to involve brothers, sisters, and coaches in a leading country in the largest discipline?
Feb 14, 2021 11:25 AM # 
You don't have to be friends or relatives at all to give out important information about a future WOC location.
I may have told this before. It happened close to 50 years ago. A Canadian orienteer of European background was back in his home area. He took an old orienteering map and went for a run in the woods. By chance, just by chance we are told, he came across the country's most noted mapper walking in the same woods with map and drawing board in hand. (No tablet mapping. This was the 1970s after all) . Our hero surmised, correctly as it turned out, that area would be used for the next world championships. It was. He brought copies of the old map back to Canada for us to study.
It did help but not nearly as much as the blatant following practiced by some other orienteers helped them. Following was the fair play infraction of those days.
Feb 16, 2021 12:42 PM # 
But nobody knows how big advantage can someone gain w/ just talking to course setter? I assume that we all believe that course setters are trusted persons. Do you think that athletes are trying to seduce course setter to show them the location of CPs? If this is the issue then give all the athletes a map with a few master CPs of the real course 1 day before. Maybe a different tests at smaller events where each athlete would get a map with part of the course to study 2 min before the start or organizer prepares 3 different maps with 3 different parts of the real course or just give, lets say every fourth athlete whole course to study. What kind of information you can get out of a such tests which would be usseful for future competition rules?
Feb 16, 2021 7:49 PM # 
It's weird, but often in science new knowledge is found by accident.

Looking at kofols idea and wondering "what if we gave athletes a map with some controls one day before" I seem to remember the Portuguese event where the full course maps were inadvertently published one day early. Overnight, new courses where planned, but if my memory serves right the original control locations were used (so that pre-markings existed and control objects were "known good"). So my assumption is many athletes had a really good look at the maps and courses, and we could analyse the results of this unexpected experiment.

So... I wonder if anybody did any analysis afterwards: did the results reflect "the usual suspects" or were there some surprising tops/flops. I'm sure Jan Kocbach has a full write-up on Worldofo, I just don't know what exactly to look for...
Feb 17, 2021 9:43 AM # 
I don't recall anything peculiar about the Portuguese event results. (2014EOC) There wasn't even anything unfair about out - all the athletes were shown the courses so it was the same for everyone. They did reuse the same control sites - but I don't think the athletes were told that. By all accounts the athletes regarded it as a fair race.
Feb 18, 2021 3:21 AM # 
After the WC Sprint in China Gustav Bergman told the Aftonbladet newspaper: “One way to cheat is to see the course beforehand. I can easily say that I would’ve won if I had access to the course before the race today”
Feb 18, 2021 3:41 AM # 
Just make your own race and don't invite anyone else. Easy way to win.
Feb 18, 2021 4:18 PM # 
After the WC Middle in China Gustav Bergman didn't tell the Aftonbladet newspaper: “One way to cheat is to run through the olive green. I can easily say that I would not have won the race today if I hadn't done that"

Because he wasn't cheating: running through the olive green was deemed "FairPlay" by IOF on that area on that day.
Feb 18, 2021 9:34 PM # 
I quoted Gustav to add to the discussion on performance improvement attributable to knowing the course. He as unquestionably well qualified to comment on that.

That is independent of whether he was or wasn't disqualified for crossing the olive 2 days earlier.

You know how it works: some runners may cross the olive in the heat of the moment, while others may forget that they made a map of the WOC Sprint final area before.
Feb 19, 2021 9:09 AM # 
I'm sitting on the IOF Fair Play Working Group - seems from this thread there is a lot being missed - what should be included that isn't?

Remember it is for all 4 disciplines of orienteering, and also for all High Level Events, not just WOC.
Feb 19, 2021 11:07 AM # 
Uh, where shall we start? Maybe at the principles of successful project management that appear to be completely missed.

First of all, it appears that the current work is driven by a somewhat vague, feel based approach. As far as I can see, there was no clear definition of what fair play should mean and what are the objectives of the work, other than achieving a state where everybody loves everybody and world peace rules.

I do not recall any fact based analysis. Only the major events of the past 5 years demonstrated a plethora of situations that could have been listed and analysed to estimate their impact on the results. There is no hint that those situations were considered beyond some of them serving as anecdotal evidence. The impact assessment of different situations was all theoretical and feel based. A one line description may mean many different things, and a score of 0 to 6 for impact is also rather underdefined.

There is no hint that any root cause analysis was done, neither at incident level, nor at general level. That is at least understandable: it is very likely that the outcome would hint that the current event organisation approach based on enthusiastic volunteers has its limits, and that the IOF strategy of chasing money, worldwide fame and Olympics is not compatible with values based fair play.

Of course, the current whack-a-mole effort has its place, but it is rather limited what it can achieve.
Feb 19, 2021 1:07 PM # 
@gg. Its great if the Group can consider input. AP'ers are from a diverse range of smaller countries and (as you can see) we have very different ideas about what is and isn't fair. Many of us are responsible for putting on major events - if the organisers don't understand where the boundaries are, enforcing Fair Play is impossible.

What is primarily needed is a statement of things which are NOT regarded as unfair, but some people think are.

Especially when the facts aren't in dispute. Bergman in the Chinese middle, self-evidently IOF regarded allowing him to go through the olive a lesser unfairness than DQ'ing most of the field. Or following - does a brilliant run in qualifying (or high IOF ranking) mean its fair you can run the final with the world champion? Or is it OK for your teammates to show you the last control when others are DQed for missing it? Or is it OK to race WOC on an area you mapped, or lived on, before WOC was even awarded? Or any of a myriad e-punching problems.

But what we saw was discussion of the bleedin' obvious - you shouldn't communicate from quarantine, you shouldn't see the course ahead of time, or run on the area, or break embargo.

Also, as stalas points out, there's no clear resource where organisers can go to look for precedent to explain WHY previous difficult decisions were regarded as fair play.
Feb 19, 2021 1:12 PM # 
The other big advantage of laying out where the contentious boundaries are is that organisers can sensibly structure events to make sure those difficult situations don't exist.
Feb 19, 2021 4:31 PM # 
In orienteering information about terrain, maps and courses (probably in the opposite order) is of major importance. In my opinion releasing the same information to all competitors at the same time is major part of fair play.
Obviously not all runners/teams can or want to utilize the information. But WOC organizers should not stop holding training camps in relevant terrains and with relevant mappers even if Mozambique can't attend. In some countries orienteering is a major sport which attracts sponsors, in others it is hardly known. This clearly gives different possibilities for the athletes. In my opinion it may be a fair play problem, but more a problem of the World as a whole. IOF is having clinics before WOC to help reduce the problem.
Like any other sport orienteering is more known in some countries than others. This creates an uneven playing field, but is not a fair play problem for IOF to correct. The re are obviously systemic differences, but to me they are not major fair play issues.

For organizers to ensure fair play it follows from my premise that all information must be available at the same time to all teams/competitors. No runners can have any privelleged information. If information accidentally leaks it must be made available to all as soon as possible. For major events there are a lot of persons involved,

Over to the individual competitor. This
Feb 19, 2021 4:59 PM # 
For major events there are a lot of persons involved, many of them non-orienteers. Not all of them might understand the need for secrecy. Maybe it could be better and fairer to release more of the information, and reduce the chance that only a few runners get it.
It is important for the organizers to ensure fair play and have systems in place. But it might be at least as important to show that the systems are in place. EOC 2021 might well have water tight compartments between course planners and Swiss runners, but this is not obvious to anybody else.

Over to the individual competitors:
For graeme's question "following - does a brilliant run in qualifying (or high IOF ranking) mean its fair your can run the final with the world champion? ". Some 20 years ago we did a questionary with this as one of the questions. The overwhelming answer was YES. When there are qualification races you may "win" a good spot in the final.

Several cases over breaching the rules over the years that have ended at the jury table have been due to poor mapping. Runners have passes forbidden areas that cannot be seen on the map at running speed. Gates have been open in the terrain, but forbidden on the map, and so on. These cases to me represents a real dilemma. Should the runner be disqualified for breaking the rules and passing a noon-passable area/object ? or should the competition be voided for using a non-standard map? If we want to spread orienteering, do we want to cancel the event of an unexperienced organizing nation? If half the field has misinterpreted the map, should they all be disqualified?
Feb 19, 2021 5:42 PM # 
@BOM. Follow up to the "following" question - If the runner has earned the right to follow, is it appropriate for the course planner to introduce loops/phis to stop it?

To me, its obviously not fair (because, why else do we try to stop it - and it only helps the winner of Heat A, not Heat C **) but equally it is not cheating (because the runner can't control the arrival of a world champion).

IMO, these not-fair but not-cheating issues are what the FairPlay group should look at.

** in fact, one of my clubmates got a great result after winning Heat A, while another finished miles down after winning Heat C.
Feb 19, 2021 8:25 PM # 
Following/cooperation is exactly one the endemic fair play issues. It is very likely that especially on Long (and to some extent on Middle) following/cooperation was the single largest factor in achieving unfair results, if we define a fair result as one an athlete was capable to achieve on the day competing on his/her own with no rule violation.

As graeme referred to it, there are mixed messages coming from the IOF. There are course setting guidelines (use of butterflies or phi loops) to reduce following/cooperation, but not an eye blinks when athletes benefit from following or cooperation. Tom's presentation on fair play work suggests that it is a no issue despite its huge impact on fair results.
Feb 20, 2021 9:43 AM # 

One additional aspect appear to be missing from the IOF's fair play work so far is the questions of responsibility to report situations that may violate fair play.

Who can report violation of fair play and who is obliged to report?
Athletes? Coaches? Organisers? Member of public?

Can athletes avoid self-incrimination? Do they have the right to remain silent?

Will there be a conflict of interest declaration for athletes, coaches and organisers?

Obviously, an athlete is not responsible for being the brother of the course setter, or making a map of the Sprint final area two years before a WOC application was submitted. Is he/she responsible to declare it publicly? Is it the organiser's responsibility to avoid these situations well known to them?

Should conflict of interest declarations published in Bulletin #2 in the name of transparency and fair play, or is it up to the athlete and organiser to decide that it is not an issue (and let the rest of the field gossip about it)?

Is it acceptable if everybody remains silent in face of outrageous fortune like a course setter sibling or intimate knowledge of the area of WOC final?
Will there be a sanction for not reporting conflicts of interests?

A very exciting can of worms...
Feb 20, 2021 10:07 AM # 
I'm probably of the old school so to me orienteering is independent navigation in unknown terrain. I was surprised/shocked that the runners were much less concerned about independent orienteering than I was. So to graeme's question: I think it is the course planners obligation to try to reduce following, co-running and collaboration. On the other hand, short loops does very little to reduce the problem. Runners being together is almost always due to the runner in front making a mistake and being caught up. The best way to avoid competitors running together is using simple controls and plenty of route choices.

@stalas, who can report is clearly stated in the competition rules §§ 27.2 and 28.2, team officials and competitors.
Feb 20, 2021 10:34 AM # 
It is not IOF's fault that following was considered to have relatively low impact based on the athletes' survey. It is very hard to justify making it a high-priority item when it's not the desire of the actual participants in the sport (at least on the elite level) and it's also not one of the "low-hanging fruit" as it's notoriously hard to define. Perhaps the question should be asked why it was not considered a high-priority item by those participating in the survey - perhaps because pretty much everybody does it to some extent so at least people are not being hypocritical?
Feb 20, 2021 4:32 PM # 
"Hard to define" is a key point here. On the one hand, you have someone who spots a top competitor and never looks at the map from that point on, just runs like crazy to keep up. Very clearly following. On the other hand, two evenly matched competitors encounter each other, and though they aren't directly communicating, they can see each other, and two sets of eyes are better than one for finding controls, so they're saving seconds here and there, and they make the same route choices, maybe influenced on some level by seeing each other. Neither is at fault, and it's hard to say that either should be doing anything differently. Maybe they even come to a butterfly and get around it in about the same time, at least within sight of each other, so they meet up again. But there's a continuum between those extremes, and it's hard to know where to draw the line. I've witnessed two runners from the same country running together in a World Cup event, talking to each other. Neither was "following", but it doesn't seem right.
Feb 21, 2021 7:17 AM # 
In Sprint, I don't think following is too much of a problem - a less-skilled orienteer may get help, but will usually be at least a minute behind the better runner, which will mean several places in the results. One minute interval also makes Sprint more exciting to follow/watch. In Middle a better navigator may be able to 'drop' followers, particularly if there is a splitting mechanism. For Long, WOC absolutely MUST go back to three minute intervals.

Rules have obviously changed over the years. For 1985 WOC in Australia, one of the contenders for the home team was a forester. He had to keep a log of everywhere he went for two years, and if his work had taken him into the competition area he could not have been selected. Embargoed areas were very large in those days so that competitors could not know where the race would be run. Also in 1985, the mapper/course setter was a former Australian international whose brother was also in our eventual team. The same brothers were also involved as mapper and team member in USA 1993. No-one thought anything of it, and the brothers themselves would have been aghast if anyone suggested there was any collaboration.
Feb 21, 2021 10:21 AM # 
Some sports have the capacity for highly reproduce-able competitions. Indoor athletics seems an obvious example. Then there are sports where competition conditions change from day to day and random events favour some competitors over others. I am not sure that these random events make the event unfair. Rather they introduce randomness into the results. Golf is an event with some similarities to the following issue in orienteering. There is much to learn by putting last. This can give a definite advantage. But is that a question of fairness? For orienteering, a plethora of draw designs and course setting approaches ensure that random events which favour one competitor over another should equalise in the long run. I suspect the search for an orienteering event design that eliminates these random inequities is a forlorn struggle. A good example is a return to 3 minute start intervals. The longer the start window the more chance there will be a weather event that will disadvantage or advantage some runners. A one minute start interval reduces the probability of this happenstance.
Feb 21, 2021 10:47 AM # 
That's true IL, however at major events the best-ranked runners usually start last, in a narrower time window, so weather conditions generally are likely to be equal for them. Occasionally the last runners may have worse weather and an outsider wins, and perhaps runners from lower-ranked nations earn a higher place. That may be good for the sport.
Feb 21, 2021 11:01 AM # 
In the days when countries nominated one person for each part of the start draw (which still happens at JWOC), at a World University Championships I chose to nominate myself for the first block because I was expecting the conditions to get significantly worse (heavy rain) as the day went on. They did...
Feb 21, 2021 11:48 AM # 
It still happens in WMTBOC as well. You get an advantage in some terrains going later if the organisers didn't make visible the indistinct track junctions for the earlier competitors.
Feb 21, 2021 12:17 PM # 
@MChub It is not IOF's fault that following was considered to have relatively low impact based on the athletes' survey.
It absolutely is the IOFs fault.

The survey starts "Have you observed anyone who acted against fair play". And every question has the same framing "Do you think XXX is cheating?"

Every elite athlete has run together with other elite athlete at some point, and gained the benefits. Almost none of them think they cheated.

IOF chose to frame the questions in terms of athlete misbehaviour, rather than fairness. It guarantees that unfairnesses that competitors have no control over won't get picked up.
Feb 21, 2021 1:19 PM # 
Did the IOF collect responses from non elite athletes? organizers, spectators, etc?
Feb 21, 2021 6:53 PM # 
t was not considered a high-priority item by those participating in the survey - perhaps because pretty much everybody does it to some extent

We can call that the Lance Armstrong defense- "everyone else was doping so I had to as well."

Jeff, that survey was open to anyone (elite, non elite etc). I responded to it. I guess, since you obviously didn't know about it and would have liked to, the question is how widely it was advertised. I can't remember now, but I guess I would have seen something about it on a WorldofO link to the IOF page.

JJ, runners actively collaborating (talking) is clearly illegal - always has been. In the current rules the relevant rule is 26.2:
Except in the case of an accident, seeking to obtain or obtaining assistance from other runners or providing assistance to other competitors during a competition is forbidden. It is the duty of all competitors to help injured runners.
I am not aware of anyone ever being done for that, nonetheless the rule is there. Obviously you should have reported what you saw to the IOF Controllers and those runners would have been disqualified ;). I think that particular issue is a case where, despite it being clearly prohibited, there is a culture where it is deemed acceptable behavior. I think many people would be surprised to know that rule even exists.
Feb 21, 2021 7:26 PM # 
I think the IOF leadership contributed multiple ways to the fair play problems. Some f them are as follows:

- as you pointed out, they muddle the language between fair play, intentional cheating, and inadvertent violation of the rules.

- with the Leibnitz convention they introduced a direction where they were explicit that fairness is secondary to TV friendliness

- they also turned their heads when serious fair play violations were happening even on major events, despite everybody knew that there were fair play issues in the sport.
Feb 21, 2021 8:29 PM # 
BTW, following is a real problem for some of the elite athletes and "part of the game" for others.

Here is a description and video link of an event where Olav Lundanes boiled over the behaviour of Gustav Bergman. Not only GB followed OL, but even "invited" others to follow the "Olav train" on a low priority event on a technical terrain.

The description of the incident with video link:

You can find GB's description on this page:

OL's reply here:

(google translate is your friend, if your knowledge of scandinavian languages is not up to scratch)
Feb 22, 2021 12:08 AM # 
JJ, runners actively collaborating (talking) is clearly illegal - always has been. In the current rules the relevant rule is 26.2:

Anecdote: Irish athlete had her map grabbed by a top-nation athlete lost in WOC qualie. Complained afterwards, but was told that if she put in a formal complaint then she would also get disqualified as she had spoken to the top-nation athlete, a breach of the rules. So nothing happened.

The resulting top six place in the Middle Final was a little sickening.
Feb 22, 2021 12:35 AM # 
I've had someone try to grab my map, but I held on tight. If anyone tries it again, they're going to regret it, and I'll probably be disqualified. Or arrested.
Feb 22, 2021 12:51 AM # 
Wow that's funny Neil.

I was thinking of pointing out that the wording of that rule was a little unfortunate - it potentially means a runner who has done nothing wrong could be disqualified simply because someone else talked to them. But then I thought that surely no one would ever seriously interpret it that way. But it seems someone (a senior official presumably) did. So now, with that precedent, if you want to win a race all you have to do is get a friend to stand at a control and yell at everyone who comes up: "it's over here" - then they will all be be disqualified for "obtaining assistance" as per 26.2

But seriously, that story does rather illustrate that even among some officials there is a culture where things like that (which should clearly be considered a breach of "fair play") are considered acceptable; thought of as just "part of the game".
Feb 22, 2021 12:58 AM # 
JJ, - as far as I am aware there is no specific IOF rule against physical violence. Sure you may be arrested, or sued (especially if you did it your country) but your result should still stand. You can hit the person who tries to grab your map - just don't say anything that could be construed as "giving assistance".
Feb 22, 2021 1:19 AM # 
I once protested against another competitor in an event in Europe who grabbed my map but it was dismissed for lack of evidence (my word against theirs in the absence of any witnesses).

Pretty sure physical violence would come under the "competitors shall show respect" provision of 26.1. (I'm also struggling to see any plausible interpretation of the current wording of 26.2 which would justify what Neil describes - unless telling a would-be map-grabber to go away (or words to that effect) is considered "providing assistance" - but the wording of that rule may have been different then?).
Feb 22, 2021 2:05 AM # 
I've always found it odd that if another team takes the incorrect map in a relay, both teams are disqualified (though this may have now been rectified) even though the team whose map was taken did nothing wrong except be slower than the poor eyesight team.
Feb 22, 2021 3:10 AM # 
For WOC93, I stayed up late the night before the Relay preparing a duplicate set of maps to have at the ready in case somebody grabbed the wrong one. We were glad not to need them.
Feb 22, 2021 3:21 AM # 
Blair, I think you are missing the point I was trying to make when you focus on how rule 26,2 is interpreted. And since I notice you are also on this Fair Play Committee I will try to explain it better.

It's not about the fine detail of the rules and their interpretation. Even if that rule was worded slightly differently before (or even if there was no such specific rule at all) I would hope that we all agree that a runner taking another persons map to find out where they are is not "fair play". Or to put it more bluntly, it is cheating. Saying it was not 'not fair play' makes it sound less serious - as though it is just a minor or borderline infraction. It is cheating, plain and simple.

The problem that Neil's story illustrates is that such behavior was not taken seriously by the official(s) in question. There could be several reasons for that. Maybe it was just that one person who was not a very good official (a bad apple). Maybe it was the sort of official who thinks teams like Ireland just don't matter at WOC - that is an attitude that I have witnessed on several occasions. But I suspect that official may not have been just a bad apple - I think there is culture where things like following, active cooperation in the terrain, grabbing peoples maps, etc is NOT considered to be cheating. Certainly when I was in racing in Europe (80's, 90's) that sort of thing was commonplace. When I first realised that it came as a real shock to me. Those sorts of things were extremely uncommon in Australia at the time. In Australian orienteering culture those sorts of things were considered to be highly unacceptable. In Europe they were considered normal acceptable behavior.

While getting the rules right is important I don't think that is the primary consideration in this whole "fair play" exercise. In Neil's particular example the behavior (taking a map) was clearly not "fair play". Any reasonable official should consider taking someone else's map as an obvious and egregious breach of 26.2 that warranted immediate disqualification. OK, there would be the issue of proof - if the allegation is denied and there are no witnesses there is little that can be done - but at the very least the complaint deserved to be taken very seriously and investigated ,not just brushed aside as it was: basically blaming the victim. But that is not really the point of this story. In this case the rule is there and is perfectly adequate - the problem is not the rules. The problem is the broader culture where, despite what the rules say, such obvious breaches are not taken seriously by officials and considered to be perfectly acceptable behavior by runners. It will make no difference at all tweaking the rules to make them clearer if they are just going to be ignored anyway, as they are now. Changing the culture is what is needed, But that is much harder than just changing the rules. And much more important.
Feb 22, 2021 5:09 AM # 
unless telling a would-be map-grabber to go away (or words to that effect) is considered "providing assistance"

I guess it's a matter of choosing your words with care. I think we'd all agree that telling another competitor where to go (so to speak) contravenes the spirit of navigating independently ;-)
Feb 22, 2021 5:27 AM # 
It’s not only about elites. All behaviour of this kind should be called out to stop it becoming normalised even more than it currently is.
Feb 22, 2021 7:38 AM # 
I fully agree with Rob's analysis above. There is a tremendous blindspot when it comes to fair play in orienteering. Tom's presentation on the IOF work so far is a confirmation that this blind spot was not even recognised by the supposedly comprehensive approach.

The existing "sport-racism" is a related problem. One may easily imagine the tide of outrage in better circles if an athlete of a lesser nation would grab the map from an athlete of a leading nation.
Feb 22, 2021 7:58 AM # 
I'm very glad that map-grabbing has come up. To experience this in one of the countries I admired was a shock. Tell me, is it still common?
Feb 22, 2021 6:39 PM # 
Speaking as a mediocre foot-orienteer from a formerly divided country with over 35 years of participation in many parts of Europe, I have never seen anybody actually grab a map from somebody else, ever.

However occasionally I have seen people wait at a control and ask athletes punching that control "where am I?". Rarely, and based primarily on an age-and-tears-scoring, I will offer help, often even trying to point on the other persons map - which can take surprisingly longer if the other map uses a different scale than mine.
Feb 22, 2021 7:11 PM # 
I have only had someone grab a map from me once in many years of orienteering in Europe, so it may not be very common at all. But when it does happen it is very shocking, in a "how could you possibly think this is acceptable behavior?!" kind of way. Surely it affects the runner's focus. I guess that's part of the core of the "fair play" problem—a different definition of what is acceptable behavior from different people.
Feb 22, 2021 8:59 PM # 
Lest anyone misunderstand and think that I was suggesting I would assault such a person, I should probably clarify: I would chase after the person in question, grab his map (most likely a male, I suspect), and then just run as fast as possible in a random direction with the hope of getting out of sight so that I can just ditch the map somewhere and leave him stranded. At my advanced age and state of decay, I don't really stand much of a chance of being able to outrun the sort of person who would likely be a map-grabber, but I would probably have the element of surprise on my side.

I don't think meet officials would approve of that kind of retaliatory behavior, but it would give me a good story to tell.
Feb 22, 2021 9:40 PM # 
The one time I had my map grabbed it was by a female. I guess it's an equal opportunity tactic.
Feb 22, 2021 10:08 PM # 
I've never had a map grabbed. People sometimes ask where they are, and I usually tell them where to go, except that this normally happens when I'm stationary trying to figure it out for myself.
Feb 23, 2021 12:50 AM # 
My European event tally is one OOCup and one ORingen. Thats not many, but I had the map grab experience all the same. You can add to that a similar expeience at a WC Carnival in New Zealand. It wasn't an Antipodean offender.
Feb 23, 2021 12:51 AM # 
Must recognise the tourist.
Feb 23, 2021 4:50 AM # 
I think the mistake is approaching a control and appearing to know where you are. Better to approach and then swear and ask the other person if they know where you are. Then they leave you alone.
Feb 23, 2021 5:27 AM # 
Can't say my map has been snatched, but ever since my first European O event in 1979 I've lost count of the number of people trying to ask me where they are when I've come into a control. Almost always adults, about even with gender. In Britain and Switzerland it was only at an international event, and it didn't happen in Norway, but definitely in Sweden, Hungary, Italy, Spain and Austria. It's also happened to me at international events (World Masters) in Australia and New Zealand.
Feb 23, 2021 10:36 AM # 
What we're identifying is that there are transgressions that are regarded within a social group, or area, or country, as OK to make. They are regarded as "minor" by some, and "shocking" by others. Around here people I would trust with my wallet will roll thru a compulsory stop sign and speed up to get thru an orange traffic light. No doubt I have some habits which would horrify someone, somewhere.
Feb 23, 2021 2:03 PM # 
MTBO being one of them.
Feb 24, 2021 2:34 AM # 
Whether or not map-snatching is involved, the habit of asking someone where you are will break that person's concentration, therefore it's unfair and against the rules of orienteering.
Feb 24, 2021 1:58 PM # 
Coming back to a comment made by graeme about 1000 posts ago, it looks like what we need is some detailed case law: a long list of things that have happened (or might happen) and whether they are acceptable or not, the more detailed the better.

That way, future officials could refer back to the list to find the closest equivalent to help them in their decision making, rather than relying on their own interpretation of "fair play".

The examples could also be used for training of officials, a bit like anti-bribery training in companies which is also often not black-and-white.
Feb 24, 2021 2:41 PM # 
Officials like to have this no man's land teritory. That is why complaints and jury decisions are not publicly available. Some sports do this process very transparent and documented. I doubt that they have fair play rules very detailed but i am sure they have very detailed competition rules. So the jury have less room to play.

... As you can see everybody feel O.K. with the current system of complaint&jury decision rules. if it ain't broken, don't fix it. And now you came out with the list... :)
Feb 24, 2021 4:19 PM # 
+ what @stalas started as a fair play issue for EOC21. It can't be covered by fair play rules and hope that jury will make a fair decision. I can't imagine the situation where someone make a protest at EOC and jury investigation find out that there is no rule for such situation. Jury can't disq. athlete or team if there is no clear violation of competition rule unless fair play rule says that you can be disq. too. In other sports they have yellow and red cards for this situation. So if this is a true fair play issue IOF should give to team Suisse a yellow card or public statement at least... but jury works only on a competition day so @stalas are you talking about yellow or red card? or you found a better solution.
Feb 24, 2021 7:34 PM # 
Actually there is a rule for the EOC21 situation: §26.4 states "Strict secrecy about the courses must be maintained." §26.5 further states "Attempts to gain any information related to the courses, beyond that provided by the organiser, is forbidden before and during the competition." The main problem with this event is that eventhough the organizers are probably adhering to the rules, it is very difficult for outsiders to see or trust that they are.

In my opinion making a detailed list of every conceivable case and proper decisions for each of them is impossible. There will always be new and specific circumstances, and facts to take into account. If the document, by some super-human effort, covered every adequte case in detail nobody would ever read it. That is why we have the jury. Most complaints are handled by the organiser without problem. Only a fraction of them ends as protests to the jury.
Without having any complete list of jury cases it seems like most of the high profile cases where a runner that has crossed an impassable barrier and been given a valid result is due to a fault of the organizer. A strict interpretation of the rules would probably lead to voiding the race. One could of course question whether this is fair to all the runners that have perfectly valid races?

By the way during WOC 2019 relay one control guard clearly breached rule 26,8 "Control officials shall neither disturb nor detain any competitor, nor supply any information whatsoever. They shall remain quiet ..." 20 minutes after sunset the control guard left his control, used the tracking of the runners to find the two last ones (several hundred meters from his control), and told them to follow him to the finish. Clearly breaking the letter of the law, but something most of those still present approved.

Bernt O.Myrvold
Feb 24, 2021 8:25 PM # 
@kofols: what is needed is a serious wake up call for the IOF
(and also for the orienteering public)

First, a realisation that orienteering is not as innocent as we would like to believe. The various examples of serious fair play violations listed here and on various blogs would be shocking, if we were not used to it so much.

Second, an acceptance that despite the unfortunate events in China and various comments by IOF officials, fair play issues are not limited to some rouge nations. Everybody may get tempted or skate close to the line, even from "better" and "trusted" nations (as shown by various examples, including EOC 2021).

Third, an admission that the current IOF strategy (since Leibnitz) is encouraging fair play violations. When money and fame is at stake, no "values based educational tool" will fix the problem.

Albeit, this would require a serious effort, some humble pie, admission that things cannot continue as is, that more is required than some patch work. So everything will continue more or less as is, until something really serious happens.
Feb 25, 2021 1:59 AM # 
Rouge, a wonderful translation Sandor! Of course communist=red=bad capitalist=democracy=good heh heh.
Feb 25, 2021 6:39 AM # 
Looks like a Freudian typo: rogue vs rouge ;-)

On a side note:
Having lived on both side of the divide, and even in between for considerable time, I can assure you that it is not so simple.
Mar 1, 2021 7:06 PM # 
Really interesting reading.

As Technical Director (and map maker) for WOC 2024, and also former GB squad member, still competing for GB, training with lots of the GB squad and friends with all of them, and friends with the GB selector (who is also going to be involved with WOC 2024 organisation - having stepped down as selector), and husband to a *potential* competitor, there are lots of reasons to suggest that I would not be a suitable candidate to be involved with WOC organisation, but there were no other similarly qualified interested candidates, and I have signed a Non Disclosure Agreement.
If people like me were not willing to organise events (like all the Swiss people mentioned), then there might be a shortage of organisers. I think the solution is not to shame Switzerland (or other nations), but to ensure that there is trust that the organisers and competitors are not exploiting these connections. I have run several WREs where my father was planner / controller / IOF Event Advisor, and I can say there is absolutely no chance that he would give me any information about any of those races!
Perhaps I will be the subject of a future blog by stalas?

I like the idea of documents which state what is and isn't acceptable for organisers and competitors, and making sure it is transparent that even if there are potential conflicts of interest, that these are acknowledged and there is a trust in place. Part of this will definitely be solved by the outcomes of the Fair Play Working Group.

I also think having a list of jury decisions from previous events is really important, as I have seen a number of occasions when juries have ruled differently in similar situations.

Many of the other points raised (e.g. prior knowledge of terrain before embargoed) are on the list of things to be considered, probably the presentation didn't have time to go through all 30+ areas identified.

(all these are personal opinions, not those of IOF / WOC 2024 etc...)
Mar 2, 2021 10:00 AM # 
For the record, I would trust gg with WOC but not with my wallet.
Mar 2, 2021 10:57 AM # 
GG I agree that if we were to exclude anyone with close relationships with potential runners or team officials we would very quickly run out of suitable people to take on organising jobs. But still the issue is not a simple one and needs to be discussed.

Here's a cautionary tale for you: .

I made the maps for the first World Games - 2001 in Japan. At the time I was living in Melbourne in a share house with a couple of orienteering friends. Neither of them were going to be in the Australian team but on one occasion there was a major event on near Melbourne and lots of visiting orienteers. One day a few of them visited our place for a few hours, some of those visitors were current Australian team members. I wasn't there.

Later, one of those visiting team members admitted to me that they went into my room and looked for copies of the WG maps. He said they didn't find anything. They can't have looked all that hard as they were in a folder in my bookshelf. And they could have just turned my computer on and found whatever they wanted - there was no password protection. I was quite shocked that people I considered my friends and trusted would do that. It had simply never occurred to me that i needed to worry about that sort of stuff. I was also privately very embarrassed by my own naivety and lack of care protecting such important stuff.

In the end I believed this guy that they hadn't found anything but what if I hadn't? What if I had decided they should be reported? If I had reported them to, say, the IOF controller I have no idea what would have happened. But one thing I can be sure of - I would have lost a lot of friends. No one would have appreciated me reporting fellow Australians and possibly getting them disqualified.

The morals of this story:

1. You can't necessarily trust people you think you can trust
2. If you do suspect someone you trust of wrongdoing you are going to be in a very morally compromised situation. If you report them you risk your friendship. There is a considerable disincentive to do the right thing.

(When I say 'you' I don't mean you personally GG, I barely know you and I have no reason at all to doubt your integrity or any of your friends. I mean 'you' in the general sense of 'a person'. Just thought I had better make that clear)
Mar 2, 2021 11:54 AM # 
@robplow. I guess we're all shocked at your story. But its interesting that nobody even considered it cheating to look at those Portuguese EOC maps inadvertently posted on the web. Indeed, it was simply assumed that everyone would have done so.

In the year before I planned WOC, there was a huge uptick in visits to my AP log. Its not rocket science to figure out why. I don't think I gave anything away, I guess its acceptable for people to know I was test running multiple times.

"Competitors taking advantage of mistakes by the organisers" is another of those grey areas.
Mar 2, 2021 12:39 PM # 
Rob, I don't think you would have gotten them disqualifiied in that situation. They would have gotten themselves disqualified. Searching someone's personal living space is a major breach of a friend's trust. You could just as easily say that they were getting you in trouble.

(Although I won't disagree that others might have viewed it differently.)
Mar 2, 2021 12:44 PM # 
As I understand it in Portugual the organisers inadvertently published the maps on the webpage. To look at maps and courses you just happen to come across on that webpage is a very different thing to actively searching for maps in the mapper's house. And once you know that others have seen them then you would have to be really stupid (or a saint) not to look at them.

I'm not telling this story with the intention of naming and shaming the people involved. I am certainly not going about to name anyone. In fact, while I remember who told me about it, I have no recollection of who else was there that day.

I imagine that what happened was a bunch of guys were sitting around talking and someone mentioned as a joke that the maps were probably sitting in a folder in the next room and one thing led to another. I think the whole thing was probably just a joke that got a bit out of control and went a bit too far. Assuming they were telling truth when they say they did not find the maps I felt that they must not have been really trying. Hopefully because they didn't really want to find them. And the fact that the one guy admitted it to me seemed to me to be a case of a very guilty conscience. And I think that if they had found the maps he would never have admitted it.

In any case it was certainly a shock to me and even now I feel embarrassed telling this story as I clearly had not been careful enough.

At that stage it would have been a half finished map and no courses (I was never involved with them). Seeing just the map is far less of an advantage than seeing the courses. There was an old map of the area available to see - however that bore very little resemblance to reality so seeing the actual map would certainly have been something of an advantage. But the real point is not the actual advantage gained - it is the intent. As far I am concerned, had they seen the maps they had cheated and should have been disqualified and further disciplined. I chose to believe that they did not see the maps so I did nothing. Maybe I should have. Perhaps my theory of a joke gone too far was just mental gymnastics to avoid taking any action. Perhaps I was being altogether too naive and generous to those involved. Who knows. But in retrospect I know that being embarrassed by my own failure to take adequate safeguards and the desire to avoid the unpleasantness of reporting 'friends' contributed to my decision to do nothing. And that is a very dangerous thing - when you feel that pressure to stay silent.

But the real reason I am telling this is to point how easily stuff this could happen and has happened. These were people who, had you asked me, I would have said would never had tried to cheat. Yet there they were searching my room.

My point is really - I would love to agree with you GG that we can all trust each other - unfortunately I have experienced the opposite.
Mar 2, 2021 4:40 PM # 
IOF rules:
26.5 Any attempt to survey or train in the competition terrain is forbidden, unless explicitly permitted by the organiser. Attempts to gain any information related to the courses, beyond that provided by the organiser, is forbidden before and during the competition.

26.6 The organiser shall bar from the competition any competitor who is so well acquainted with the terrain or the map, that the competitor would have a substantial advantage over other competitors. Such cases shall be discussed and decided after consultation with the IOF Event Adviser.

As I read the rules, the incident Rob describes migth not even be a violation of todays rules (although I'm as chocked as other commentators here). How well aquainted with the map can you be in a few minutes? Modern technology has probably made knowledge about maps over the terrain available to everybody. Previous maps over the areas shall be published and usually also autogenerated maps of the terrains are made available by the organizers.

As I read the rules what participants can do before the event and the organizers duties are fairly well described in the rules. The problem is how do the organizers "prove" that they adhere to the rules? How do you show that ther are water thight compartments? As gg points out in many nations (probably most nations) the orienteering community is not large enought to exclude everybody with some connections to potential runners from the organisers. We could trust the organisers, but as the military championships in China showed this is not a good option. I have reliable information that there has been similar incidents in a previous military championship, but at that time with some weak runners that there were no medal winners. To repeat a point made earlier in the discussion; it is not enough that the organisers adhere to the rules , they must also be able to show/prove that they do so.

The rules for information gathering/perparation before the championships and duties of the organizers are in my opinion good enough. The main influence on the results is probably the behviour duiring the competition. I don't think this can be solved by more/cleare/stricter rules. The main problem is that a large part of the competition takes place outside the view of any official or referee. In most cases there will be word against word from the involved.
Mar 2, 2021 7:17 PM # 
The potential risk is not written rules but always human nature. @gg As I understand NDA is just a legal steep to make clear what organizer expect from mapper, course setter, etc. Is this cumpolsory procedure dictated by IOF or left to each organizer to find a best "local" solution within organizing team. In business you have also written consequence in case of violation. Just out of curiosity what NDA in orienteering normaly includes today? IOF selects event advisor today and maybe would be better that IOF selects course setter and organizer selects event adviser. One thing which I think could be done is to have an official form for mapper, course setter, etc for reporting just in case of dispute over a violation of NDA. It is good for sport to have this discussion.
Mar 2, 2021 9:03 PM # 
In the business world, an NDA isn't really worth the paper it's printed on. If you pass on information I gave you in confidence, I can sue you without an NDA. If you're determined to steal stuff, an NDA isn't going to stop you.

I think it's the same in orienteering. An NDA may make you feel marginally worse about cheating, but really we have to rely on our trust in those with confidential information to do the right thing.
Mar 2, 2021 9:33 PM # 
Agreed. But in orienteering when something happen not according to the rules jury comes in and decide whatever they think is "right". So, do we trust jury blindly or do we need transparent processes to establish this trust? @gg said that time to time also jury made moral error. Yes, it is hard to disq. half of the field in WOC qual. My point was that NDA solves nothing if there is no trust. But I also don't want to trust just because someone high enough said we need to trust this man. You can achieve trust only with transparent processes, public reports and jury authorithy within the rules. If something extraordinary happen which is not yet in the rules then there should be very clear why current rules cant solve the problem. Also jury members should have possibility to make separete statement in case of disagrement with the jury decision. Now all we have are words and influence when it comes to disputes and silent when decision is made. This practice should be upgraded if we really want to obtain trust from everyone involved in elite orienteering.
Mar 2, 2021 11:25 PM # 
@Arnold, The point of the NDAs is to make it clear what you can and can't do. It should be clear from this thread that people have radically different ideas about what is and isn't OK. It would be easy enough to cheat, NDA or not, but I don't think organisers are trying to do that - we just don't always know what's OK, especially when we see other people advising the organising team doing things we wouldn't.

Like making undocumented photocopies of the course map to give to their friends...

But now I know that's absolutely fine - so just ask.
Mar 3, 2021 1:54 AM # 
BOM wrote: " How well aquainted with the map can you be in a few minutes?"

The rule you quoted says: "Attempts to gain any information . . ." So it doesn't matter what they saw or for how long. Even if they saw nothing at all they attempted to gain info. They broke that rule.

But really I hate that sort of overly legalistic interpretation of the rules. What they did was clearly against the spirit of the rules and "sporting fairness"

cf: rule 2.7 Sporting fairness shall be the guiding principle in the interpretation of these rules by competitors, organisers and the jury.

I don't think this whole discussion of fairness/fairplay is about such narrow interpretations of the rules. The issues are much deeper than that. It is about the fundamental principles that underlie the rules. Rules are always imperfect and can always be twisted one way or the other with clever semantics. Of course it is good to try to fine tune the rules to avoid that sort of thing but that is the final step in the process - what is far important, and what this discussion is really about is not the letter f the rules but the fundamental principles of fairness.

To me rule 2.7 is the most important rule in the book. It should be Rule 1.1 written in all caps, bold and underlined. Whenever someone tries to justify obviously unfair behavior on narrow legalistic interpretations of the rules, just read out that rule and say: "cut the crap,we all know that what happened was against the spirit of 'sporting fairness' "
Mar 3, 2021 3:52 AM # 
But it talks only about "attempts to gain any information related to the courses". A nit-picky point. And maybe the second paragraph wouldn't really apply, either. I think that's BOM's point, the rules as written are imperfect, and this may have squeaked through some loopholes.

I'm the chairman of the national Grievance Committee in the USA. Many of our rulings over the years have put a lot of weight on our counterpart of Rule 2.7.
Mar 3, 2021 4:59 AM # 
@ Robplow I think you stopped your quote of the rules a little short "Attempts to gain any information ... RELATED TO THE COURSES. " I think it is telling that the regulators has not included the maps in the same paragraph. With google maps, google earth, street view and national services that often are better available in many countries the maps and terrain will be well-known to anybody who spends the time and ressources to investigate. Some of the national data are not available outside the country.

In my opinion the last few WOCs has acted in the spriit of fair play by making this data easily available to all participants. This reduces the advantage the larger nations have. Some of the national data are not available outside the host country.

In a perfect world rule 2.7 would be enough (or maybe not even that rule would be needed?). However, as this discussion shows clearly, exactly what the "spirit of fair play" is varies from person to person. And to reiterate a point how do an organizer show that all the people involved adhere to the principle?
Mar 3, 2021 6:37 AM # 
robplow..." was against the spirit of 'sporting fairness' "

This is ideal world but this sentence cant ruled out any competition rule (wrongdoing). Decision cant be made just to look at what is fairness issue. This is thin line in every sport to gain advantage and sametime to stick with the rules. I see this sentence can only come to play in case of special cases when there is no existing rule to solve the problem (sentence should also include wording when jury can apply it). It would be very bad situation if clear competition rule and this sentence can give different jury decision because than you allow sport politics to come in to judge. In my opinion there are cases where competitors after the event publicly say who really deserve to be in their place or change medals, etc.

I feel that jury should stick with the competition rules and IOF should try hard enough to make the rules always in best shape as possible. How this rule works in practice? Could jury disq. athlete bacause of following or not? This should be clear from the rules or IOF interpretation of the rules - "semantics" before the event. I like principles but on elite level each sport is very competitive and principles are tested more often then anyone like. That is way working on rules should be high priority for IOF. They found many bypass solutions in the past but for future events they need to solve these issues with better processes and upgraded rules.
Mar 3, 2021 7:53 AM # 
rule 2.7 says: Sporting fairness shall be the guiding principle in the interpretation of these rules . . .

So it is not giving you permission to just ignore or overturn rules you personally feel are unfair. It is saying you should interpret the rules that are there with fairness as the guiding principle.

For example: if there was a rule that said " all Norwegian athletes shall be given a copy of the course 1 hour before the first start. I think that would be very unfair - but the rule as written is very clear - not much room for interpretation there, nothing I can do about it.

But in the case of the rule that says you are not allowed to attempt to gain information about the courses I would argue that 'courses' includes the map the courses are set on (courses are pretty meaningless without the map).
Mar 3, 2021 8:02 AM # 
Bernt, I stopped that quote where I did to highlight the fact that just ATTEMPTING to gain information is against the rules - to counter what I thought was a very unfortunate comment you made about how much could you learn in 5 min - which sounds like you are trying to excuse or mitigate what is obviously serious cheating.
Mar 3, 2021 8:44 AM # 
Good point. It is unfortunately that logical conclusion what rule should mean or how to interpret it is not clear and sometimes logic is not the "guiding principle" for the jury. It only tells you that there is a vague rule and jury will look at the event in case of doubt. So we put trust in jury to decide the outcome in case of indefinite rule. What a great bypass! Still the only way with such rule.

Jury logic or better sports policy logic is that -> Sorry but we were not able to write down a fair rule so we decided to have an open rule and we will look each case separately to find the best decision we can based on all information on the spot. Please trust us that we do our decision process in best interest of sport (fair play might be excluded) but please don't ask us any question more or try to ask us to be transparent with our decision process or to go public what was our basis for the decision. According to the rules we "jury" are not obligated to make public report for our decisions.

This is sport politics to me. What is the possible road to find alternatives? Maybe we need a list of these vague rules and asking each member of IOF to write down their clear proposal (wording of a rule and logic behind it). If we can't find a common rule then at least we can say that we do our best. So we can still politely ask jury to do our work. But please write down at least the rule that jury is obligated to give us their version of interpretation of the rule and the basis of their decision. Eventually it might help to find a better rule in the process.
Mar 3, 2021 1:38 PM # 
But to some extent, it is not prohibited to attempt to gain information about the terrain/map. It is legal to look at existing maps (e.g. government maps, Google maps) of the embargoed areas. These days, I don't think anyone realistically thinks that there can be a prohibition on finding lidar and making your own base map. But obtaining map info by means that are just wrong anyway (hacking into accounts, breaking into someone's home) is not okay. Gaining info about the courses is a separate category, you're not allowed to do that at all.
Mar 3, 2021 5:09 PM # 
JJcote seems to be spot on here. Looking at maps and gaining information about the terrain from opne surces has always been part of the preparation. It is probably impossible to stop people from doing it and certainly impossible to police all possible participants. I beleive there are good reasons for the rules to mention information gathering about courses and not map, terrain.

I've been to some team leader meetings over the years, and if strict ingterpretation and enforcement of the rules about trying to obtain information about the courses is applied there would be no starters. More or less the whole point of the team leader meetings seems to gain information about the courses. Usually disguised in different ways. It seems like everybody accepts this as part of the game. The information gained will also be available to all at the same time, so probably not a fair play issue.
Mar 3, 2021 7:50 PM # 
To BOM's last paragraph, at US events it seems that current practice at national meets is to hand out clues only at the start (which I happen to prefer). However, it used to be quite common to get the clues ahead of time. With the clues, an old map and the start and finish locations, it was sometimes possible to figure out the first control and the go control. The latter could be particularly easy if the clues had the run-in distance indicated. A typical control points, e.g., a cave, might also be locatable. This pre-race preparation seemed to be quite standard. I certainly never heard any complaints or saw any frowning. As I mentioned, as both a participant and an organizer, I prefer distribution of clues only at the start.
Mar 3, 2021 10:01 PM # 
I'm not sure how this clues-at-the-start thing began (I have some suspicions), but I find it a pain in the ass, and I hate it. I'd rather see them on the web site, honestly. For my own part, partially as a matter of protest, I just don't take them at all any more, I just use the ones on the map.
Mar 3, 2021 10:19 PM # 
I don't understand why they were given out in advance in the first place. What's the reasoning? So people can look up the symbols?
Mar 3, 2021 10:35 PM # 
Just put the map and control descriptions on the web and be done with it.
Mar 3, 2021 11:01 PM # 
Come on now, if we're going to post the maps then we should also draw in the best route, too. Make it fair for everyone.
Mar 3, 2021 11:10 PM # 
@Cristina, It used to be handy to get control descriptions ahead of time so you could write them on your control card, it gradually went out of fashion with epunching. Plus, not everyone had access to printers and copiers
Mar 3, 2021 11:36 PM # 
> Come on now, if we're going to post the maps then we should also draw in the best route, too
Sometimes our national events are held on new maps. Sometimes they are held on old maps. In the latter case maps are available on-line. I can't see any evidence of it making an iota of difference to the order of results. Likewise when control descriptions are posted on line, as will be the case at our national Easter event this year. Ask yourself if its fairer with everyone seeing the map, or a subset of competitors being able to process the lidar to see a form of the map.

I think map secrecy is an arcane cultural institution of the sport.
Mar 3, 2021 11:44 PM # 
I assumed you meant "the maps" as in "the maps with courses". Different story if it's just the maps. I agree that there doesn't seem to be much of an advantage to having the plain map, new or old.
Mar 4, 2021 12:15 AM # 
With descriptions handed out in advance, you could carry them however you wanted without having to fuss with a piece of paper in the rain with wet hands, at some wet table where there's rolls of tape and scissors and you have one minute. As opposed to maps, which are sealed in waterproof bags. Yes, people invented holders to make it easier to deal with, but not everybody has them, so the organizers have to set up the aforementioned table.

When I started out, descriptions were only on the maps. Putting them in the packets was a widely welcomed innovation. The whole "figuring out the course" thing always seemed like an exaggerated joke.

Also, on a summer tour of Europe 30 years ago, I saw a wide variety of schemes, including what the US usually does now, or most commonly in the meet info in "roll your own" format (master list of controls, plus a list of codes for each course, and nothing on the maps), or available on strings in the pre-start area where you could try and copy them down. The switch in the US seemed to be an attempt to do it "like they do in Europe", even though that was not consistent.
Mar 4, 2021 1:31 AM # 
I didn't really mean to initiate a discussion on the relative convenience of having clues ahead of time vs at the start. My point was that with the clues you can often figure out control locations, which means knowing part of the course beforehand, which was being discussed as a fair play issue.
Mar 4, 2021 2:55 AM # 
Due to COVID, for most events in eastern Australia control descriptions are available online for printing at home rather than being provided at the event. It will be the same for the national Easter carnival, so the question of fair play may come in given some of us have been to the areas beforehand.
Mar 4, 2021 5:23 AM # 
When you hand out the control description is not directly a fair play issue to me. Everybody gets access to the same information at the same. On the other hand, the information does make it easier to cheat, since you can use the information to check which orher courses have the same controls. So it is better to hand it out at the start to reduce the possibility of cheating.
With all the online services avilable i makes little sense to try to keep the map secret. And as several have pointe out it doesn't seem to make any difference to the results.
In the Tiomila relay they used to have the competition map in the booklet with all the other race information.
When it comes to information the most important fairness issue to me is that all competiors have access to the same information at the same time.
For a World Cup races 2018 we as the organisers realised that one map (which was part of a much larger mapped area) might have been sent to Norwegian team leders. Within hours we published the map on our web side for all to see. There is nothing in the results that indicates that any runners gained any advantage form this. The map was also also marginally different from the previous maps of the area, which had been made public earlier.
Mar 4, 2021 5:48 AM # 
If you can guess which 20 of the several thousand boulders at Gumble are the ones your controls are on you probably deserve to get an advantage :-).

More seriously, one of the major objectives here is that everyone has access to the same information about the map. Historically that meant "no information" when events were only held in forests, most of which (for major events) had not previously been mapped. Given the access to other sources of information (and that previous maps are provided for areas which have been used previously), I think that at least for urban/sprint maps, it would probably be in the interests of fairness to release a blank map of the competition area ahead of time if there is no previous map - particularly if "public" information is difficult to access outside the country (as might happen somewhere like China, although the World Cup sprint area had a previous map).

Those who've been around for a long time will know that until the late 1980s, the WOC venue/arena location wasn't announced until the night before the race, but I think that's totally impracticable for a modern WOC (a) because you might be able to embargo 'all unmapped forests in region X' but you can't exactly embargo every town in region X and (b) you probably couldn't hide the infrastructure for a modern WOC (and for urban events, things like road closures would have to be advertised ahead of time anyway).
Mar 4, 2021 8:50 AM # 
Back in the 80'ies the Norwegian coach compared the detailed arena lay-out in the last Bulleting with the fields found on the official 1:50000 maps. That left a few potential arenas. Driving along the non-embargoed roads quickly showed were a lot of new gravel lead down to the field. Probably didn't make the slightest difference to the results, though.

Trying to keep ev erything about map and arena secret didn't work back then, and is even less likely to work now. There are external contractors for arena construction, TV-prodcution with cabling, potential road blocks, reduced speed limits, bus transport, information to local authorities, police, emergency services etc.

This discusssion seems to have strayed from the main fair play problem in orienteering. How to regulate and monitor the behaviour in the forest? And how to punish and breaking of the rules.
Mar 4, 2021 10:28 AM # 
@gg: Let's reframe the issue at hand.

Have you considered the viability of orienteering as a "serious" sport if after more than 50 years, in some of the most populous orienteering countries, in the longest established discipline, only people closely associated with the national team are qualified and interested to take up positions that involve handling the most sensitive information?

Rob gave the perfect example that trust is one thing, practice is another. Would you be as comfortable to advocate the promotion of trust that the organisers and competitors are not exploiting these connections when it comes to an event, say, in China?

The good news is that it is child's play to commit the "perfect crime" that cannot be proven, or even detected with any certainty. So, whatever happens, trust shall not be affected. Now, that's a topic for a blog post for sure.
Mar 4, 2021 10:58 AM # 
@BOM: my conclusion is less that we need to find a way of punishing rule-breakers, and more that we need to find a way of more clearly defining the rules in the first place. Unfortunately, it seems that "good sportsmanship" is not sufficient, because it means different things to different people.

@stalas: I feel like we still need to believe that people are basically good and trustworthy, unless proven otherwise. Yes, we need to make the rules as clear as possible so that there is no temptation to cheat 'because it's not forbidden'. But we also shouldn't jump to the conclusion that all officials are basically cheaters-in-waiting, so that only a select group of hermit-sages shall ever be allowed to organise big races.
Mar 4, 2021 11:22 AM # 
@Arnold: We shall trust all organisers for the simple reason that we have no choice. ;-)

But we have to acknowledge - no matter how non-PC it is - that under current practices one can cheat and win WOC/WCup medals without the slightest risk of being caught.
Mar 4, 2021 11:27 AM # 
*waits for past WOC and World Cup medallists to rise up en masse and take offence*

Do you really think that is an appropriate claim to make without any evidence to back it up?
Mar 4, 2021 12:04 PM # 
Jenny, in his last post Stalas did not make any accusations of past cheating - he just said it would be possible to cheat without consequences. No need for any past medalists to be offended by that.
Mar 4, 2021 2:03 PM # 
Rob, this is symptomatic in many ways. Many orienteers cannot acknowledge how easy it is to cheat in orienteering without any risk of getting caught, especially for a home nation athlete. Two individuals (an athlete and a course setter), whose moral compasses are disturbed by money or fame, can commit the perfect crime.

Everybody who organised an event knows that. You gave a candid example what can happen. Yet, it is a thoughtcrime to acknowledge it. We have to believe in this crystal clear world, because only our belief keeps it together. Even a heretic thought may shatter it.

All fine and dandy, until somebody comes along who plays by different rules. One should not spend much time these days to find examples of winners in politics and business who played by different rules. Ones, who did not care about unwritten rules and conventions of traditional clubs, whose members were left sobbing over their shattered beliefs while the winners were laughing all the way to the bank.
Mar 4, 2021 2:11 PM # 
@Arnold: Clearly defined rules are of course needed. There must also be mechanisms in place that allow breach of the rules to be detected, and consequences for the rule breakers.

For example are todays rule quite clear:
"26.4 All officials shall maintain strict secrecy about the competition area and terrain before they are published. Strict secrecy about the courses must be maintained." Most of the discussion has been on how we can trust that the organisers adhere to that rule.
There is of course one mechanism in place. The International advisor team checks the rutines and measures the organizers have in place. @stalas: we don't trust the organizers just because we have no other choice, there is also a (admittedly far from water proof) control mechanism in place.
Mar 4, 2021 2:38 PM # 
@BOM I was a key organiser and adviser altogether to 8 major IOF events (World Championships and World Cups), plus involved in another 4 helping out with mission critical tasks.

I am not aware of a control mechanism that would prevent a course setter or technical director quietly giving a map with a course to a local athlete, including some advice on when other organisers are unlikely to visit the terrain. Can you explain what control mechanism may prevent that?

I never had the suspicion that it happened, but cannot imagine a "control mechanism" that would prevent it, other than trust in moral compasses.
Mar 4, 2021 4:16 PM # 
What control mechanism would you propose to prevent this from happening?
Mar 4, 2021 4:30 PM # 
Are there any parallels elsewhere? Are there any other sports where there is a notion of information that the organizers need to withhold from the competitors prior to the competition?
Mar 4, 2021 4:31 PM # 
To add some real world example of how the will to limit information sharing clashes with infrastructural needs due to the Liebnitz convention and different people handling implicit or explicit NDAs differently: at a quite recent WOC I was part of the team setting up radio controls. On the day before long distance, I was sent out with an o-map cropped very small and two control circles and told to check the radios would work there. Because SPORTident SRR (short range radio from SIAC) can be slightly tricky, I asked which direction the athletes would be leaving the control, but was denied that info. Fair enough, I thought.

In the forest, homing in to my small map-crop using Google maps on my smartphone, I met the guys laying out glasfibre cable for the TV cameras. We know each other from previous events, so we chat a bit. They showed me the full map, but they had only four control circles where camera coverage was planned.

Getting back to the finish, I met the person who would be commenting the IOF stream next day, in o-clothes. They told me they had just run part of the course. Startled, I asked what map they used. I was shown an inkjet print of a complete map and course, not to scale but nonetheless quite legible. This map had apparently been obtained from the person preparing the GPS trackers, because they had needed to check mobile coverage.

My rambling concludes: there are so many parties involved nowadays, it doesn't have to be just the course-setter who checks his/her party guests. The rules on not obtaining unfair advantage are clear enough, but as stalas rightly says, it's fairly impossible to prove any cheating happened - or didn't!
Mar 4, 2021 5:19 PM # 
@Arnold I suppose someone who want to detect weak points need to go thru all the processes from selecting a course setter to the event day. Logic tells me that if you can eliminate or speed up some tasks is the first goal. Second, to create a smaller team and third, how to establish a quarantine for mapper, course setter, test runners, event advisor, etc.

Today WOC courses are produced in a very long period of time (2 years?), multiple checks of terrain, variation of courses, etc. Timeline is longer than in the past because all of the considerations that go into today's course planing. So to make it shorter is a huge challenge. The ideal option would be a 1 month quarantine before the event when all these tasks need to be done. Most probably not possible without a huge risks (TV?) but if they produced a new course in one night at Portugal event then you ask yourself why we complicate more than is necessary. If someone would set an objective then all others will follow. I have experiences only with the national meets so I dont know what are the 1001 tasks to produce WOC courses.
Mar 4, 2021 7:30 PM # 
@jjcote: The only paralllel I can think of is the 1972 Olympics White Warter Canoeing event. An artificial white water course was built in Munich for the event. DDR obtained copies of the architectural drawings , and built an identical course for training and preparation.
Mar 5, 2021 8:02 AM # 
Is sport climbing the closest example we can look at? How they manage the whole process to keep the secrecy of the course? I don't know how many people are involved, how long they need to put the boulders on the wall & what are other restrictions, communication protocols.... but from a distance it seems that they should have a very strict rules. Afterall they became Olympic sport. Can we learn something from them?
Mar 5, 2021 10:11 AM # 
I assume(!) the breadth of people involved is smaller, plus specific knowledge about the sport needed by the infrastructure providers smaller too.

In orienteering, the TV production guys need to know a lot about orienteering and the actual courses to do their planning, placing cameras, planning running-cam areas and setting up cables and drone fly zones etc. In sport climbing, I assume (but have no real knowledge of) the TV guys just are told "this is the wall, cover it all"?

Also I guess there are no printers printing booklets with exact maps of courses?

And I doubt you have discussions months before the event with land-owners and forestry and environment agency about exact location of grips/steps?

Do they even have "test-climbers" testing routes months/weeks in advance and tweaking the wall plus federation-advisers checking things long ahead?

Trying to find other sports with similar information-leakage risks - which other sports have concepts of "embargoed areas" pre-event?
Mar 5, 2021 10:22 AM # 
Due to COVID, for most events in eastern Australia control descriptions are available online for printing at home rather than being provided at the event.

Also in Western Australia.
Mar 5, 2021 11:19 AM # 
Listening to the conversation, I was starting to wonder how much help it would *actually* be to have the courses in advance, at least for forest races (sprint is different).

Thinking about myself, I'm not sure how much of an advantage I would gain. I guess I might have more time to analyse route choices and hence pick the best one, but unless that route choice is early in the course, I should have enough time during the race to get to the same answer. As for short legs, I could pick out attack points perhaps, but how many would I actually remember? It might conceivably make things worse if I focus too much on remembering things and not enough on the actual orienteering.

But I guess at the elite level, the margins are thinner so even if the map-in-advance only gains you a minute or two, it's worth it?

I'm not saying we should hand out courses in advance though...
Mar 5, 2021 11:42 AM # 
@jSh. One of the benefits of the NDA is to make it clear to organisers what is unacceptable behaviour. For example, making and passing on extra inkjet copies of a course without central organisers knowing should be forbidden. Intention to cheat in that case is irrelevant: we need to cut down opportunities to cheat, rather than only acting when we can catch actual cheaters.
Mar 5, 2021 12:38 PM # 
@jSh OK, if you cut out TV guys for a moment how many people are involved in course preparation? This is known only to organizers if I am correct. I did a quick read of climbing rules and see a few interesting points. First, competition area and who have access to it (clear definition of roles). Second, jury is involved already in preparation phase so anyone could report. Third, yellow and red card.

Maybe orienteering is just too complicated sport to organize so choosing a trustworthy persons is the main task. If you look how transparent is the whole process then i think having an active jury already in this phase is good solution.
Mar 5, 2021 3:59 PM # 
A lot of people need access to the WOC courses.

Well in advance, the planner, test runners, local controller, international controller, technical coordinator, IOF advisors. And many others for aspects like start, finish, road crossings and TV controls. Nearer the time, still more people need to know.

Outside the sport, normally the landowners and the conservation bodies too - although they shouldn't need to know exact control locations, its always what they demand because they don't understand why secrecy is such a big issue. For urban race, the police and council will also want to see the details.
Mar 5, 2021 11:53 PM # 
@kofols Just a side note: apparently there is a misunderstanding about the role of the Jury.

The Jury is not an enforcer of the Rules, but a decision making body that gets involved only, if there is a protest against the organiser's decision on a complaint. Nobody can "report" things to the Jury. See Rules 27 ad 28.

The process is as follows:
Incident >
> Organiser's decision >
> Complaint to the organiser against the decision (if any) >
> Organiser's decision on the complaint >
> Protest against the decision on the complaint (if any) >
> Jury

In any case, the Jury is announced only in Bulletin #4 that is published (typically) when the teams arrive to the event.

(Details, but this was not the first time people misinterpreted the role of the Jury in this thread. I am just a touch sensitive regarding this because I've been teaching event advisers since 2010. The Jury process is an important element of the EA education.)
Mar 6, 2021 2:40 AM # 
I'm still tossing up whether to apply to be an EA after your workshop in Aus in 2019. It sounds quite demanding and unrewarding!
Mar 6, 2021 2:56 AM # 
My attendance at the Auckland workshop convinced me I wasn't taking it any further.
Mar 6, 2021 4:50 AM # 
@Arnold: I have actually once tried to have a good look at the course before hand. It wa a training camp in Japan and the organiser wanted me to talk through the course for the participants (as a Norwegian I'm sometimes assumed to be an expert orienteer). The next day we ran the course, I spent far too much energy trying to remember how I would attack the different legs and controls, and too little actually solving the problems on the run.
Before WOC 2003 (Switzerland) Bjørnar Valstad had a course setting competition and the older maps provided by the organisers. The winner was the person which came closest to the actual WOC course. However, even having seen two of the longest legs (within 100 m in each end) before hand he took non-optimal route choice during the competition. But he had probably looke at a few hundred other potential legs as well.
Maybe we are exaggerating the advantage you can gain by knowledge about the course?
Mar 6, 2021 7:58 AM # 
@tRicky: I hope it was not me who scared you away in Oz ;-) The very reason I restructured MTBO clinics a couple of years ago from Event Adviser clinics to EA and Organiser clinics was to attract people who may never want to become an EA, but could benefit a lot as organiser from thinking through every aspect of the event.

EA work is demanding, but not unrewarding. Of course, if you compare the outcome with an ideal event, you always fail. If you compare it with what could have happened without your "interference", it is always satisfying :-)
Mar 6, 2021 8:03 AM # 
@BOM: How would you assess the advantage for a home nation athlete actually running the course 2-3 times to test route choices?

I would guess that would be the difference between 15th to 20th place and a medal position.
Mar 6, 2021 10:54 AM # 
I suspect the Gueorgious and Ikonens (Ikosia?) of this world could run the course from map memory, if they had trained in similar terrain.
Mar 6, 2021 11:37 AM # 
So here was I thinking that those guys trying to find the maps in my house was a bad thing. But apparently if they had seen the map any advantage would have been minor so really nothing to worry about - I should have invited them back around for tea and cakes and map samples.

Reading the recent posts it seems the solution to all fairness issues in orienteering is to just let everyone see the maps and courses before, forget about terrain embargoes, put the controls out a year before and let everyone prerun the courses as often as they like. Pretty soon there will be paths worn between the controls and the map will need updating to reflect that and by the time of the race the course will just be path running. Course setters will very soon realise there is no point putting controls in forest locations so they will just set all the controls on roads and paths anyway.

From now on anyone working on major events should just tweet the maps and courses as they go.

Brilliant - why didn't I think of that? Why didn't the IOF fair play commission think of that?
Mar 6, 2021 11:42 AM # 
First I'd like to make it completely clear; I am not suggesting to publis the courses in advance, and even less to let only a few runners test them.

After WOC 1997 there were many runners that ran throught the courses. It took several months before any runner actually beat the winning time. Appearantly so many had tried that new paths had formed at least some places. Courses and the best route choices were known, but still it was difficult to improve on the WOC performances.

@stalas: Eystein Weltzien wrote an incredible master thesis on route choice in orienteering. A large group of Norwegian elite runners were given several legs to test. There were two or three route choices and the runners could do them in the order they chose themselves. Nearly always the first choice was the fastest. This could be interpreted as the runners being good at picking the best route choices in terrain types they know. (Another alternative is of course that they got tired and slowed down. But I find it difficult to believe that running a ~1 km leg and jogging back the same route choice should significantly slow down elite runners.)

I would guess that for the best trained and prepared runners, there would be little to gain. I know one former world champion that claimed that he could not have ran any faster if the course had been taped. On the other hand, for the mid-fielders the advantage might be greater. And as I started I'm certainly no suggesting that courses should be published beforehand.
Mar 6, 2021 11:43 AM # 
Neil you are your showing age, and sexism. How about some more contemporary and gender balanced examples: Alexandersson and Lundanes?
Mar 6, 2021 11:54 AM # 
Bernt - I was of course not being serious.

But in all seriousness, what started off as a discussion about the need to make sure event officials are careful about secrecy, very quickly devolved into something like "well, seeing the maps and courses beforehand had would not help that much". instead of discussing ways of making sure that trust and secrecy can be maintained.

You are clear you are NOT advocating publishing the courses - that seems to suggest you are OK with publishing the competition map?
Mar 6, 2021 12:05 PM # 
Eystein Weltzien wrote an incredible master thesis on route choice in orienteering. A large group of Norwegian elite runners were given several legs to test. There were two or three route choices and the runners could do them in the order the chose themselves. Nearly always the first choice was the fastest. This could be interpreted as the runners being good at picking the best route choices in terrain types they know. (Another alternative is of course that they got tired and slowed down. But I find it difficult to believe that running a ~1 km leg and jogging back the same route choice should significantly slow down elite runners.)

The thesis was published as a book (by NOK?) call Veivalg.I used to have a copy. Is it still available somewhere? Online?

Another reason the first route was generally the fastest (assuming that was the one a runner thought would be fastest) is that subconsciously you might not try quite as hard on a route you evaluated as slower as your subconscious does not want to prove you wrong.
Mar 6, 2021 1:23 PM # 
I didn't misunderstood the current jury role. I'm just pointing out that we might need to look at the jury role. The whole responsibility before the event is now mostly on organizer. As @robplow said "ways of making sure that trust and secrecy can be maintained" we might need to look into other methods.

When you look how system works in other sports you see that jury has more important role than in orieteering. I see logic here because there is just one official body which control fairness of the event: before, during and after the competition. In orienteering we divided this resposibility on 3 parts (organizer, SEA, jury) and we are talking mostly about what could happen before the event where resposibility is in hands of organizer and SEA. I just think that we could look into this option. The question is: how to reorganize responsibilities so jury would be able to control the event as a whole. If secrecy of the map&course is the most important thing to maintain fairness then I would rather see SEA only as a technical support to organizer who can report to jury for any misbehaviour before the event. Also teams and organizer should have chance to report to jury and ask for action.
Mar 6, 2021 1:45 PM # 
@BOM There is a bit of selection bias. Just because the world champion claimed that "he could not have ran any faster if the course had been taped" that does not mean that the 2nd, 3rd, 6th or 15th placed runner could not have performed better with some background knowledge, not to mention a previous visit to the forest.

The same argument could be used for following that "for the best trained and prepared runners, there would be little to gain", but practice shows that one can win a WOC medal instead of finishing above 30th place by following on a less than perfect day (one example is Swedish trailer on WOC 2017)

Information doping is like physiological doping: it does not change the game completely, but can make the difference between a good day and a perfect day, especially for the ones who are missing a little bit of extra to get to the top.
Mar 6, 2021 1:54 PM # 
Good point about the psychology of proving yourself rigth. I did a reanalysis of the data with better statistical tools, if I remember right it was actually the best route choice that was choosen.
Not sure if this is available world wide, but here is a link to the NOF handbook :

The original thesis is about twice as long, but have not been able to locate it online.

Yes this days I'm OK with publishing the competition map. I migth even suggest that it should be mandatory. With all the open sources much (most) of the information is available. Organizers (at least of WOCs) are required to make a autogenerated map available. I think this became mandatory after WOC 2015 when it was discovered that the informaion was available for anyone with a Swedish net adress, but not outside Sweden. For WOC 2019 we made the autogenerated maps, but also linked to the data from the Norwegian authorities so those who wanted could make their own map.
I think making the map available will to some extent level the playing field. The federations with ressources to making their own maps will gain less compared to the weaker/poorer federations if accurate information is available to all of them.
Mar 6, 2021 1:56 PM # 
@Stalas : Agree with you, and as I wrote "On the other hand, for the mid-fielders the advantage might be greater."
Mar 6, 2021 2:01 PM # 
@kofols Many things could be done, but the core problem remains. Some of the most audacious misbehaviours cannot be detected and cannot be proven.

For example, it is nigh impossible to detect or prove that the course setter gave the course to a home nation athlete who visited the forest a couple of times on his own.
The top few hundred orienteers in the world can benefit from running the course, without extra paths or marks in the forest, unlike some cross country runners drafted to the Chinese army.

(and we may add that even if such things are detected, there would be tremendous incentive at higher levels to cover up any really serious misbehaviour, because the cornerstone of our international elite sport is the near religious belief that this level of misbehaviour may never happen)
Mar 6, 2021 2:08 PM # 
@BOM Takk! Man kan få tilgang fra en norsk ip-adresse.
Mar 6, 2021 3:03 PM # 
Honestly I really don't like the idea of publishing the competition map. It is a pretty fundamental principle that the maps and courses are kept secret. If you are going to have the courses secret then you might as well keep the map secret- it's no extra effort required.

Sure things that are already in the public domain have to be published by the organiser to make things equally accessible for all countries. ( not everyone would find it easy to find for example Norwegian lidar etc or be able to find the old o maps of areas). It has long been compulsory to publish old O maps of the area and is now standard practice to also publish autogenerated maps - if that is not already mandated in the rules then it should be - but that is just a logical evolution of the rules as technology evolves - not a big change in thinking that needs a huge debate. .

Autogenerated maps are getting quite good but still nothing like as good as an actual map and there are still cases where there is no old O map of an area or if there is an old map it is very out of date - there have been a lot of changes.

And I don't see that publishing the competition map to would necessarily level the playing field that much - the big teams will have the manpower to set endless practice courses and analyze route choices etc while in lesser countries, individual athletes will have to do that for themselves. is not really any different to say a Swiss or Swedish team member having access to financial support, multiple coaches, medical support, 2-3 training camps in relevant terrain before each WOC, etc etc. That is just the way the world works.

But there is no need and no real advantage to publishing competition maps so why do it.

Instead of trying to find and justify ways of lowering the secrecy requirements to the point where the fundamental nature of the sport is compromised I think this discussion would be better focused on thinking about better event management practices to ensure secrecy.

Graeme mentioned the need to keep track of all copies of a printed map given out to test runners controllers etc. That is of course very important but seems somewhat futile if there is no effective control of the digital copies of maps and courses. As Stalas says - it would be the easiest thing in the world for one person with access to the digital files to pass them onto a friend. At the moment, as far as I am aware, we just hope we can trust everyone not to do that. If it happens there is no way of even knowing that it has happened. We might suspect it due to unusually good results by relatively unknown athletes but there is no way you can prove it.

I certainly don't know what is possible in this field but it seems to me you need some sort of system where all sensitive material is kept on secure servers with very limited people having access and every access by everyone logged, and strict controls and logging of any copies made (print and digital) s. But even then all someone who really wanted to hand over info would have to do is take a photo of their computer screen. But surely corporations and governments have systems for handing secret material. There must be something we could do to improve digital security. Or is it a question of cost - ie just to hard and too expensive?
Mar 6, 2021 3:03 PM # 
@stalas "there would be tremendous incentive at higher levels to cover up"
How do you know that.... from your text you are implying that current processes and rules are not up to the task if there would be a case or where there was a case where cover up has been done. That is why we might first need a better processes so organizer/SEA can't work on their own in such situation.

With direct access to the jury there would be more presure from all parts (less chance to cover up) and transparent process could contribute to how decisions are taken in case of the report. If at the end jury cover up we would at least know who to blame. Now misbehaviours before, during & after the event can be solved at different levels, with different processes and different rules. This is in "my language" an organizational swamp where big fish can swimm very well and they don’t have to be afraid to catch them. I'm not informed in details how jury solved China case. Did jury do their work correctly, did current rules have been useful in making the final decision?
Mar 6, 2021 4:07 PM # 
I think in the China case you would find it hard to find too many relevant rules or precedents to help in the decision making. It was a pretty unique set of circumstances.

For a start so many athletes were affected that most of the potential jury members (officials of various teams) had to recuse themselves, meaning the SEA had trouble even forming a jury, eventually co-opting one of the Australian runners who happened to be a qualified IOF controller, hence eligible for jury duty (the SEA was Australian).

Then it turned out that not only had a handful runners crossed the OOB area that was the subject of the original complaint but all but one runner had crossed another OOB area later in the course. At that point it was either disqualify all but one runner or none. The jury chose the latter.

I guess the other option would have been to void the whole course on the grounds that it had not been a fair race - as you would if for example a control was badly misplaced. But that sort of decision would take a very brave jury indeed, and would undoubtedly go down very badly with the organisers. While jury decisions should be based solely on the rules and principles of fairness, In reality there can be political considerations and pressures as well: certain decisions can cause considerable embarrassment for organisers and/or the IOF. Such considerations may not be explicitly stated or discussed within the jury but are there nonetheless.

Of course I wasn't there and I am not aware of any publicly available official accounts of what happened so what I have described is based on what I have read - so hearsay. I support what others have said about making jury decisions public - basic transparency is just good policy and it helps future juries organisers etc to know about these things.

If I have got any important details wrong Blair can correct me.
Mar 6, 2021 5:10 PM # 
@kofols How do I know that there is tremendous incentive to cover up?
Been there, seen that.

There were 3 cases in China that were memorable:
- CISM Chinese cross country runners (non-IOF event, but worldwide bad publicity);
- World Cup Middle OOB issue, as described by @robplow above with many of the tricky considerations;
- World Cup Sprint most surprising results.

The latter one - if proven - would have had incredibly serious consequences. That was suspected to be the quintessential breach of trust that could have shaken the foundations of our international elite sport.

The IOF leadership handled the situation perfectly: completely defused the scandal and ensured that nothing specific happened. One of their best moves was to delegate the investigation to the Ethics Panel, who 4 months later submitted a report saying that they did not understand the question. Problem solved :-)

More details:

A smart coverup is one where nobody can be sure that anything happened. An "endless" investigation is another tool for that. The previous President was really good at this: when he declared that a thorough and proper investigation was required in a serious breach of trust (organisers misleading the SEA, organising a foot-o event 2 weeks before an MTBO World Cup), that was the last time we heard about that.
I guess it is still an ongoing investigation since 2013 ;-)
Mar 6, 2021 5:36 PM # 
Graeme mentioned the need to keep track of all copies of a printed map ... somewhat futile if there is no effective control of the digital copies of maps and courses.
Yes, but the point I was trying to make was about NDAs. People who are not trying to cheat currently think its OK to photocopy and pass on the map without telling the organisers. (TV guys in JSh example, regular readers will know mine) And, there's no written rule to tell them its not OK.
Mar 6, 2021 7:20 PM # 
@robplow @stalas
Thank you for your sincere input. So here we are. No publicly available jury report? Is this even possible? Why nobody resigned? How jury members feel after no decision/report? To me this is a big slap to all who trust IOF to be the gatekeeper of elite sport. Independent jury is something that goes without saying. Controling jury work and decision making process is just....unprofessional at least.

I'm even more convinced now that fairness issue should start with the clearer rules and processes. I know there would be resistance from IOF leadership if anyone try to implement any changes to the current rules. So nobody have interest to make the first move because sometimes fairness means money. You also never know when you will need extra help. It is also unimagible for any olympic sport to confirm results before jury made final decision. When there is TV audience and media nobody can do such moves as you mentioned @stalas without serious consequences for the sport or persons involved. I think results should be "on hold" in case there is no jury decision. Rules should be clear about what is the resonable timespan when final jury decision should be made or jury president is responsible to make the final decision. I'm talking about hours and days in the worst case. I would rather live with bad jury decision on time than with no decision at all.

I feel very sorry for the president that he lost all his credibility in such way.
Mar 6, 2021 10:18 PM # 
Chinese report is here.
The CISM, they suspended the cheaters: not much more can be done about it as its not an IOF event.

The sprint, the SEA says that "none of the alleged elements of the cheating claims occurred or can be substantiated." I think jury decisions should usually be published, but if its simply allegations with no evidence there's nothing to learn from it.

The Chinese athletes took advantage of "Chinese Village' home terrain. One *might* make the case that picking terrain to suit your own athletes is unfair, but I don't think it is (neither in other sports: anyone watching the cricket in India?). It almost felt like an attempt to distract from the (European-caused) shambles of the middle race.
Mar 8, 2021 10:32 AM # 
I made a check, here is a follow up on your statement.

"In any case, the Jury is announced only in Bulletin #4 that is published (typically) when the teams arrive to the event."

China WC event Bulletin 4

No Jury announced in Bulletin 4. Only Event Advisers & Controllers.

It seems that rules are not very detailed. If we really want to run our sport with more integrity we need to make clear what is jury rule vs. Event Adviser role.

One example could be sport climbing. Here are the rules.

1.10 Competition officials / p.13
4. Disciplinary procedures / p.26

A few observations:
Jury is announced before the event. I think this is crucial. In orienteeting SEA select jury members on the spot and only when there is a case. I don't see any problem with selection of the jury members before the event or that they need to withdraw because of their connection to the athletes as was in the China case.

Jury members need to do their work and preserve integrity of the sport in all circumstances. That is the key mission of the jury. Yes, it is hard when your athlete is in the line but that is how jury work in most sports. It could happen. Having 1, 3 or 5 members can make a difference so even if one jury member is having thoughts to save the athlete, others will prevail. To be sure that jury decision is within the rules you need to have experienced (qualified) jury members. Do we have this educational process in orienteering for people who is eligible to be a jury member as we have for SEA? I'm not sure that we have any licence procedure.

If you look how sport climbing define competition officials roles you will see that their techical delegate and jury president are two persons. In orienteering we have joined this responsibility under SEA. They also recognize that other key officials e.g. routesetter could have a big influence on the fairness of the competition and that is way they assing international routesetter to help chief routesetter (selected by organizer) who need to make a report.

I don't know how sport climbing rules evolved over time that they come to this point but maybe we are just one step behind in making similar rules. I think it is the right time that IOF need to look outside the box and ask themselves whether they can change the rules and make better control on how organizer, SEA and jury running the mayor competitions than today.
Mar 8, 2021 10:40 AM # 
One recent example to study how jury work could also be yesterday world championship event - 50k cross country skiing race where jury disqualified the winner: Johannes Hoeflot Klaebo
Mar 8, 2021 11:01 AM # 
Actually, the World Cup jury (and two alternates) was selected and announced before the start, but two of the three jury members had a conflict of interest and one of the alternates couldn't be located, so we had to spread our net more widely....

A separate problem was that World Cup juries, for practical reasons - few other IOF EAs attend World Cup events not in their home country - often consist largely/entirely of team leaders, which creates a high risk of a conflict of interest. (I recommended in my report that IOF move to having juries independent of the teams where possible, which already happens at WOC but is a lot harder at World Cup, unless you fly people specifically to the event).

Incidentally, having an athlete on the jury was a valuable perspective to have, but it was a particular combination of circumstances that made it possible - having an issue which only affected one of the two classes, and an athlete in the other class who was also an IOF EA.
Mar 8, 2021 1:56 PM # 
Cross country skiing

Official results published, jury decision included.
RUS & NOR jury member did their work, nobody withdrew


WC China, middle/sprint results

Official results published, jury decision not included.
Two jury members withdrew because of conflict of interest. Without looking into the rules is this clear from the rules or it could be personal or SEA decision on the fly?

Thanks Blair. What kind of overall changes did you suggest to the IOF. Is your document publicly available?
Mar 8, 2021 2:28 PM # 
Kofols, since this is at least the second time you are claiming the jury decision in the Chinese case was not published, I must protest (or is it complain, being my first instance?): if you follow the Eventor link you yourself posted, please look for "Middle distance MEN Jury decision (112 kB, 28/10/2019)".

However, you are absolutely correct that normally there is no mention whatsoever of jury decisions (or even complaints and organiser responses and following protests made) at all, the middle distance in China is a very notable exception! (Most recent example re non-transparency: WSOC in Estonia, road crossing/following cases in the Middle distance, there was a mention of numerous complaints in the live stream, but no information published).

On a broader note and looking at some suggestions further up this thread that complaints/protests should be possible earlier in the organisation process if breaches of rules happen: note that the IOF rules state clearly that only team officials and competitors may make any complaints or protests. This was actually a big problem at WOC in Latvia when an athlete zip-lined over part of the embargoed area a few months before the event - it wasn't even clear who and by what rule was able to take any kind of action!
Mar 8, 2021 2:50 PM # 
I saw jury decision document but my views not support such methods. Why? I think we need to distinguish between jury decision and jury report. Jury decision should be part of official results all the time. In this way all interested parties can have access to the jury decision (teams, media, etc). Jury report can be a separate file. It is even more transparent way how jury resolve the issue. If it is publicly available OK, but it is not necessary as it is in the FIS case. The most important info. for all involved parties is jury decision and not the lengtly jury report of pro and cons stated by the jury members.

When you have separate files for results and jury decision you are in trouble to maintain transparency. Maybe next time when IOF will decide to update the Eventor the jury decision file (report) will not be available anymore.
Mar 8, 2021 3:25 PM # 
Hmmm. OK, I understand your distinction between decision and report, and agree that an update of Eventor might lose the PDF. Looking at the CC skiing results the list with jury decisions is concise and yet simple, something that seems impossible in orienteering ;) Of course in the Chinese middle distance, the jury reinstated athletes that the organisers removed after complaint, so for orienteering we'd need to list both organisers and jury decisions to explain why jury actually reversed the action back to a valid result. But yes, I agree a concise list of any organiser and jury decisions in orienteering result lists would be a step forward.
Mar 8, 2021 3:45 PM # 
@kofols: Please check the Rules and not just a single past example if you want to claim whether the Rules are appropriately detailed or not.

For World Championships and World Cup
8.6 Bulletin 4 (additional event information) shall be given on arrival of the competitors and shall include final details of event information including:
[...] names and Federations of jury members

In practice, all jury members on major events are Event Advisors for the very reason that they should know the rules and aware of the issues around organising. No need for separate "jury licence". Blair has already wrote about the practical problems of selecting a jury for remote World Cup events: few, if any "independent" event advisors attend.

Incidentally, this brings me back to my favourite pony: the current jury system was developed for a "we for us" orienteering. A sport driven by more money and fame requires a different setup (similar to XC skiing), because the issues will be more contested. One cannot just hope for more money floating around in orienteering, and rely on the work of enthusiastic volunteers.
Mar 8, 2021 4:13 PM # 
I think we have complicated whole process through the years. It was more or less appropriate solution which worked at a time when fairness issue was not yet such important. No media, less interest, low budgets, no technology, less nations, etc. Normally we dont have official, competent jury on the spot for every event (see Blair post) so we have found solution that organizer can be eligible to solve most of the complaints. If not, then SEA call all available jury members to report on duty.

Yes, with current rules it would be impossible to mimic the working process in other sports. If you look from media side and if IOF would be forced (rules) to publish the organizer/jury decisions/reports nobody would understand. Media representatives expect to read clear&short jury decisions for all technical or fairness issues.

As I said we need better definition of jury competences over the competition. Organizer should have same status as team officials and competitors. All should be eligible to ask jury to make action before, during and after the competition.
Mar 8, 2021 4:49 PM # 
If rules says one thing and SEA still confirmed bulletin 4 then we have problem with authority. I think teams, media, etc would be better served if there was at least a sentence; Jury will be announced xy hours before the start of xy event.

A thought;
Maybe Chinese officials are not used to have a supervisory body :) It should be clear from Bulletin 4, result list, etc who runs the show beside the organizer. IOF probably adapted as much as possible. It is strange that official IOF jury report is not on official IOF template background. So I doubt that official jury decision has been sent out to media together with the results and short news. At least in this media news it is no mention of any protests.

I mentioned "jury licence" because this is not clear to me and when I read Blair's post I'm still confused. Does having EA licence is mandatory for jury members? Does team members need to have EA licence to become jury member? I suppose this is an optional request in case there are not enough EAs on the spot.
Mar 8, 2021 6:03 PM # 
The China/Middle jury made a number of decisions.

1/ The IOF compliance tool is not sufficient to guarantee ISOM compliance.

2/ The jury takes into account time gained/lost by accidentally running through the olive, using the split times.
[read: one can consider individual split times independent of the rest of the race]

3/ The time gained/lost, 30 sec, is deemed "not great enough to allow for voiding of the race" because it did not affect the medals*.
[read: medallists are more important than other competitors]

Are these now part of case law around fairness, or are future juries free to do other things?

* Gaps are less than 30 sec, so I assume this means that if you take out the offending legs from the results, you get the same medallists?
Mar 8, 2021 7:15 PM # 
@kofols Sorry to ask: Have you ever worked as an IOF EA? Have you ever worked as an EA on a major event?
Mar 8, 2021 7:23 PM # 
@graeme Regarding the Sprint in China, you believe that " The Chinese athletes took advantage of "Chinese Village' home terrain."

It may take a special level of familiarity (khm...) to ensure that an athlete runs a more difficult course on a more difficult terrain faster in absolute(!) terms, than a more simple course on an easier terrain. A relative improvement on home terrain is likely. An absolute improvement due to familiarity takes lots of belief.

See Ivar's analysis in the comment section (November 5, 2019 at 10:52)
Mar 8, 2021 8:29 PM # 
No, I organized only national and WRE events. We had an issue so it was quite an experience because I found out that rules were not very helpful. Eventually I composed a jury on the fly (via email) and send protest with jury members opinions to the EA. After comfirmation the decision was sent to the person. I found out that when EA confirmed the results there was no need to report protest and jury decision to the IOF. Because IOF was so conservative in helping to promote WRE events (I think it is the same today) I in large part lost my interest to become EA. It is almost meaningless to be EA in a small o federation. But I still follow development of elite orienteering. I'm just thinking why EAs don't have their official commission to regulary discuss about these open questions as we are discussing now. It would be a good support for organisers, especialy for small federation.
Mar 8, 2021 10:41 PM # 
@kofols: are you suggesting that people would not be able to understand jury decisions? If so, that's a problem. It's hard to expect people to follow rules if they can't understand the decisions that interpret them.
Mar 8, 2021 11:11 PM # 
Following with interest. In everyday life we have rules (laws). We have enforcement agency (police) and maybe the lower courts are logically part of that (assessing the evidence and deciding and sentencing). Then we have an appeal process.

I don't like the idea that the orienteering jury gets involved in the enforcement process. If it does then its filling gaps in the event organisation. I wonder if changing the term "controller" to "event adviser" has meant fewer resources in this area. (I'm not an international EA, we still call them controllers round here:-))

Anyway if we move the jury into the monitoring/enforcement area then we'll have to invent a new body/process to hear appeals that the final outcome of a competition wasn't correct.
Mar 8, 2021 11:29 PM # 
@kofols: "EAs don't have their official commission to regulary discuss about these open questions as we are discussing now."

EAs are not left entirely on their own as there are a couple of ways in which they can get "in service training".

Firstly, the IOF Rules Commission sends out regular newsletters to all EAs which do just as you're suggesting. Part of the content is to take case studies from recent events and pick out lessons to be learned etc. Many of these are issues of fairness.

The other forum is that of the annual High Level Event Seminar, aimed at major event officials including SEAs which this year was open to all. All the presentations are available on YouTube too.
Mar 9, 2021 5:02 AM # 
To me the main problem with the jury seems to be related to the economy. For WOCs there are a lot of meetings and you usually have highly qualified people that will be present to choose from. For lesser events there is no money to ship in a jury. You have to use the people present, which for World Cup events or regional championships often means coaches or team leaders. With a n EA licesence I have ended up in the APOC juries a few times - the organisers/event advisors were probably happy to find somebody with no conflict of interest and at least a hint of qualifications.
I'm not sure the publishing of the jury's decission together with the results will give much more transparency. It will show that there has been an issue, but the juries formal decission is usually short and formalised. The Norwegian rules specifies "The complaint is rejected" or "The complaint is accepted with the following result ...". The most interesting is often the discussion before the decission is made and the different arguments.

Having been in a few jury discussions it is also clear that the rules are important, but (as others have mentioned before) there are also other considerations that play a smaller or larger role. E.g. how many runners are affected? (An example where I was not in the jury - the last runner comes too late to the start and complains that the taped route was removed. This was a final so the last runner was also one of the very best. According to the organizers the taped route was removed later, but still before the jury could adjourn . Complaint rejected.)
Which position(s) are affected. The top positions give medals, honour, training grants. The lower positions does not. Ideally all runners are equally important, in real life they are not.
Mar 9, 2021 9:30 AM # 
Example from European Athletics Indoor Championships

Our athlete was one of the favorites to win 3000m but she was disq. after she won qualification heat. In results (web browser and PDF) the jury decision is part of the result list. Information about jury decision uses the same logic as FIS.

As @jSh acknowledged this would be a step forward if orienteering would be capable to implement similar concept. I suppose we can list all possible reasons for disq. and in case there would be multiple reasons or something totaly unseen before (misbehaviour) we could have also a rule for that. In this case whole jury report could be poblicly available along with the jury decision.

No, my point was that jury decision need to be short and part of the result list (see FIS, Athletics results) in comparison with jury report which @BOM defines as discussion/arguments before the decision is made. As he described NOR has a system how jury works. For athletes, teams, media the key information is jury decision itself which need to be publicly available with no restrictions. I suppose teams officials also get jury report so they can read all the reasons which were behind the jury decision and they can protest against it.

I believe these two examples are understandable as anyone can look into the rules and read interpretation of disq. rule.

In orienteering jury report could be confusing because jury members could use objective or subjective opinions to define fairness issue. In cca. 90% we should have (more is better) clear objective reasons for disq. Because jury is not obligated to use objective reasons to make final decision we came to the point where jury decision is in most cases always one time solution valid only for the current event. As @graeme said: "Are these now part of case law around fairness, or are future juries free to do other things?"
So, you are right what are you saying. "It's hard to expect people to follow rules if they can't understand the decisions that interpret them."
Mar 9, 2021 9:31 AM # 
We don't need to do any big changes. We only need to separate current EA responsibility into two positions. EA became technical delegate and jury president is a separate position. This person could be another EA.

And in case if there is a protest against the jury decision I am not sure how (FIS, Athletics) solve it on the spot. Both teams made a protest on jury decision. This second level decision is not publicly available, probably because there was only confirmation of jury decision. I suppose it is just a second thought/decision from the same jury.

In Chinese case (sprint) there was no jury decision although there was official competition jury. Even if the jury was unable to make a decision there should be a record that jury meeting was held with jury decision that it was no decision. As I understand they passed the issue to the "second level" to IOF president/Council and he passed to the Ethnics panel. I would say that today hierarchy is confusing and not transparent. It is a question who is responsible for what before EA is able to confirm results and who is responsible to make the final decision in case of complaint/protest on the spot? Is it organiser, jury, IOF president, Council, Ethnics panel or also other ways not seen yet?

It would be inefficiently to record each step in the process today, but we constructed such rules and as is obviously also possible. I just think that president/Council should be out of the process. Competition rules should be clear where complaint/protest begins and where it ends.
Mar 9, 2021 10:14 AM # 
@stalas. There's no evidence that the Chinese sprinters cheated, and the spilts show quite clearly that they did indeed run that fast. Even if there was incontrovertible evidence that athletes gained an advantage by being shown which way to go, if they were headed for the wrong control what should the organisers do?
Mar 9, 2021 11:01 AM # 
Can you update your profile to present yourself?

I'm not receiving EA newsletters but I would be interested if you could inform all of us if case mentioned by @jSh was discussed and what lessons were learned for future events. Is it now more clearer how such issue should be solved and by who? It is WOC afterall so probably issue was discussed and lesson learned.

@jSh said: "On a broader note and looking at some suggestions further up this thread that complaints/protests should be possible earlier in the organisation process if breaches of rules happen: note that the IOF rules state clearly that only team officials and competitors may make any complaints or protests. This was actually a big problem at WOC in Latvia when an athlete zip-lined over part of the embargoed area a few months before the event - it wasn't even clear who and by what rule was able to take any kind of action!"
Mar 9, 2021 12:34 PM # 
I was wrong about one detail re the China WC- the jury decision was pubished, which is good - I hope that will become routine, or even required in the rules.

I have a couple of minor questions Blair:

The Swedish and Swiss jury members recused themselves as their athletes were involved. In the end an member of the Australian team was found to be on the jury. But there was also an Australian who would potentially be disqualified for crossing OOB between 4 and 5. I certainly understand that time was pressing and there were probably no other options available, but still - was that potential conflict of interest acknowledged? And was it deemed to be acceptable as the Australian was not high in the results?

The jury decision says:

The jury find it possible that the athlete Gustav Bergman, Sweden, (and others) did pass through an olive-green area towards the last control.

and later

The jury finds that if a strict interpretation of the Competition rules and the map specification should be imposed, all but one athlete should be disqualified for running in Olive Green (ISOM2017 symbol 520). The jury does not find this to be in the interest of any competitor, or the competition as a whole.

Here is a screen shot of the tracking of Bergman.

Obviously the gps track is not accurate but where was he supposed to have crossed OOB? And how would anyone know he did? Did someone see him? You certainly couldn't deduce anything from that gps track.

And is it really true that all but one runners passed through OOB on that last leg? Which bit(s) of olive green did they supposedly go through?
Mar 9, 2021 1:50 PM # 
@rob, it's remarkable how quickly memory fades, but if I recall correctly the very last dashed path, the one going from the little water body Northeast and then North to control 24 - in reality there was a parallel path which was presumed to be OOB. So Gustavs track is generally a bit off, yes, but taking into account the parallel path it fits better. But honestly, you'd have had to have been there to understand that the map shows only about 50% of the real terrain, there were little huts, chicken sheds, knee-high fences just a few metres long, concrete slabs that may have been sections of path, bridge over the stream (which was barely visible when we were there, but presumably carries a lot of water when it does rain) or toppled over wall segments - in reality, it was simply a mess.

Maps need to generalise, right, so even at the given scale you could impossibly show the real story. This is why after the event the assumption was made that basically everybody stepped on an olive, somewhere. If I recall correctly there was a camera standing at about the Southern edge of the control circle, so possibly one could have checked the exact route of those last metres of each athlete - but I strongly doubt anybody pulled the tapes and reviewed them.
Mar 9, 2021 2:00 PM # 
Just for everyone's information.

I looked up a couple of IOF docucments - not particularly easy to find on the website but here they are:

Cancelling a competition:

Jury Guidelines:
Mar 9, 2021 5:31 PM # 
@graeme Yes, there is no evidence of cheating on the Sprint in China. But we know that under current practices one can cheat and win WOC/WCup medals on home terrain without the slightest risk of being caught. It is child's play to commit the "perfect crime" that cannot be proven, or even detected with any certainty. It is an Achilles heel of our sport.

There were a couple of points that made the situation very strange in China, and could have been part of circumstantial evidence. The Ethics Panel tasked with investigation carefully avoided looking into the situation and collect any other piece of information that could have made their life more difficult. They chose the easiest option and after 4 months they declared that they did not understand the question :-)
Mar 9, 2021 5:40 PM # 
@kofols You wrote: "In Chinese case (sprint) there was no jury decision although there was official competition jury."

Sorry, but again you are disregarding the well defined part of the official IOF process.
Was there a complaint regarding the Chinese results? (I do not remember hearing about one, but Blair remembers for sure, if there was any)
If there was no complaint, and no subsequent protest against the organiser's decision, the jury could not get involved.

You also wrote: "As I understand they passed the issue to the "second level" to IOF president/Council and he passed to the Ethnics panel."

The issue was not "passed" to the "second level". There is no such mechanism.
The popular uproar was so strong that the IOF President felt that he had to do something to calm the nerves. So he requested an investigation by the Ethics Panel, a body known for reliably not delivering anything. They did not disappoint: they did nothing, and the whole issue got attenuated.
Mar 9, 2021 7:15 PM # 
@stalas. Agreed, we can't know what happened, in China or in other events. But you're missing my point - since its not accepted that showing athletes the way to go is cheating, or even an acceptable topic for discussion, it is very difficult for organisers to understand what acceptable behaviour actually is.
Mar 9, 2021 7:39 PM # 
In an attempt to create a media-friendly variant of orienteering in order to pursue Olympic dreams, the IOF created Urban Sprint, an event rife with problems. It was an offshoot of Park-O, which was focused on showcasing and demonstrating orienteering to people. As a serious competitive event, it's a nightmare, due to (among other things) terrain familiarity, the necessity for out-of-bounds areas, mapping subtleties that are right on the edge in terms of legibility that can make the difference for disqualification, and the presence of spectators in the competition area. All that on top of the challenges presented by regular forest orienteering.
Mar 9, 2021 8:05 PM # 
You see, when the procedures are not transparent it is hard to know what really happened at the event. If IOF doesn't have same approach then you can't gain confidence that the system is working. You just can't be sure that were no protest. The same is true if there is a protest. Any serious sport shouldn't loose trust in rules and fairness because nodoby from IOF is willing to think what brings such practice of hiding the jury reports. If we are not able to change the rules we could at least put one sentence at the bottom of the result list. Protest filed: yes/no.

In a way I'm glad that you noticed that my hard statement is most probably wrong but probably not everyone. Because you are not 100% sure you still leave door open to Blair to explain. So you need to wait.

It is my error and I apologize to drag you in but it shows exactly what is the name of the thread: IOF reflections.
Mar 9, 2021 10:05 PM # 
Picking up on something up the thread - the track for which all but one of the competitors could have technically been disqualified was earlier in the course. The area around the last control that Rob showed was added to the map at the last minute after we lost permission for the originally planned arena, something which is always going to be fraught with risk (I saw that part of the area for the first time a couple of days before the event). "Conflict of interest" was also defined narrowly to encompass only those countries making a protest (Switzerland, Czech Republic) or the subject of a protest (Sweden), since almost every country in the event could potentially have been affected by the outcome.
Mar 9, 2021 11:48 PM # 
I think JJ just made the most important point of this whole thread.
Mar 10, 2021 12:23 AM # 
but 20 years too late - the first WOC sprint was 2001. The fact is sprint is well and truly part of the landscape now.

All sports have levels of unfairness. Some higher than we might realise. Think of soccer where, due to the low scoring nature of the game one refereeing error can have huge consequence. Just mention Maradona to the English if you want to hear about an example of that.

Cricket: simply winning the coin toss can make a huge difference to your chances of winning. And again, simple umpiring mistakes can make a huge difference

Both those sports are making greater use of video referees which might reduce the frequency of 'wrong' decisions but so far these decision seemed plagued by difficulties.

Then look at (US) Football. They try to reduce poor decisions by having a large number of officials on the field and the very nature of the game (lots of stops) gives the officials time to compare notes and consider the situation with less time prssure. And th stop start nature of the game also makes it relatively easy to include video reviews. Of the sports I watch I would say NFL has a relatively low level of questionable refereeing decisions - but it still happens: wasn't there some controversy over a matching winning TD catch a couple of years back in the playoffs?

So just saying sprint has a myriad of problems is not going to make it disappear. No point just whingeing about the problems. Try to think of ways to tackle some of these problems and reduce the levels of unfairness.
Mar 10, 2021 1:10 AM # 
20 years ago, a very worthwhile experiment, no question.

5 or 10 years ago, an honest evaluation should have taken place, but everyone was having too much fun. More must be better.

No need to question the fun factor.
No need to eliminate the format.
The problems arise from taking this into championship territory.
How about some honest reflection and put things in perspective.

In the last 5 or 10 years the format has evolved even more towards the insanity side (micro map/OB/DQ), and the controversies continue to accumulate.

All this despite many of the best minds in an already high IQ sport working very diligently. I include many (most?) of the above posters among the "best minds".

My only suggestion has been to be conservative and disciplined in terrain selection and course design using downhill skiing and golf as models, but orienteers have clearly blown by that concept.

And to what end?
Are we getting good PR/ promotion/ growth/image/brand building out of this?
Put this in front of a non-O test market group and I think you get some embarrassing responses.
It doesn't look nearly as exciting/cool to others, as it feels for us.
Put cameras in the forest and I think you get opposite responses, and techno developments make this more feasible than ever.

How long does this thread need to be before it is evidence in itself?
Our best minds are going in circles.
Mar 10, 2021 1:34 AM # 
My only suggestion is to be conservative and disciplined in terrain selection and course design

Definitely agree with that. I think if you do that you can have generally fair races.

Also I think we need more resources put into event quality. For example for that series of 3 races in China having just a single SEA for the whole thing is totally inadequate - doesn't matter how smart, experienced etc that person is, it is too much for one person. At WOC they have multiple EA's: the reality is there are very few people who have the necessary knowledge across all the areas of major events - mapping courses IT admin PR etc etc. You need a team.A WC series - especially in a first time country - needs more resources. Of course that costs. You have to pay for quality.
Mar 10, 2021 3:59 AM # 
We needed an experienced national controller in China more than we needed an assistant (international) EA; a lot of the issues arose because there was no-one local who could check things in the field at short notice (even the national controller was 1500km away). Certainly I was doing a lot more "in forest" work than would be normal for an SEA.
Mar 10, 2021 4:40 AM # 
When biathlon was turned into a TV sport some years ago they also decided on a few World Cup organisers used every year to ensure the quality. Would the rest of the O World be happy about the WC just circling among the six top nations? On the other hand, this might not be relevant, as the problem seems to be finding organisers at all.
It is back to the economy. IOF requires organisers to pay for the "honour" to organise WCs and WOC. IBU gives a start capital of about 5 mio USD to the local organisers. There is also the economy to have an advisor team.
IOFs dual goal of spreading orienteering to new nations and ensuring high quality events might not be attainable.
Mar 10, 2021 6:49 AM # 
> 1/ The IOF compliance tool is not sufficient to guarantee ISOM compliance.

My first reaction to that finding was that the jury maybe didn't understand the map specification. I think the consensus on the Mapping FB group was that compliance is not sufficient to ensure legibility to the orienteer at speed.
Mar 10, 2021 6:53 AM # 
Here is an example which is a copy of what Jury did at WC China middle.

To conclude with examples, to me this solution is just discussion about priorities. We put a lot of money into Eventor, etc, etc but we are not able to put more manpower and money where quality and fairness really matters. For some people fairness starts with a map but at the end of the day fairness ends with results & result list.

EA championships
Result - 1500m Men - Final

Official results published, jury decision included, jury of appeal decision included


WC China, middle
Official results published but organizer & jury decision NOT included in result list.

Could anyone post a link of official organizer decision for filled complaint before SUI/CZE filled protest? @stalas is this how the procedure should work by the rules?
Mar 10, 2021 7:47 AM # 
Agree with Blair, a country hosting an IOF event would normally appoint a very competent national controller, the EA's role is not to do what the controller should have done. And in turn, a competent course planner makes the controller's job easier.
Mar 10, 2021 8:06 AM # 
Interesting comparison with less known sport, less resources, less competitors, less manpower,.... but one thing they do right for the sake of fairness vs. orienteering.

Result list need to includes info. about the protest so teams, media, etc know there was a protest against the results. It would be a first step forward if we are not able to follow FIS, Athletics rules.

World underwater federation (CMAS) orienteering rules from 2009 - 2019

Rule 7.5.4. If a protest has been lodged, then the results are clearly marked by adding the words: "Protest lodged".
Mar 10, 2021 8:20 AM # 
@kofols Orienteering result lists are always published only as results (i.e. an athlete with time or DISQ). There is never mentioned if there was a complaint to the organiser or protest to the jury, or the outcome of those decisions.
Mar 10, 2021 8:29 AM # 
@graeme I fully agree that there is utter confusion around what is acceptable and what is not. The case of the Danish spectator happened in the plain sight of the IOF Leadership. They carefully avoided to expose themselves by giving any guidance to future organisers, athletes and spectators.

A classic case of "Oh sh#t, this is a problem we hoped will never happen, so let's keep hoping that it will never happen again."

Last year I wrote about this very incident with some other cases mentioned:
Mar 10, 2021 9:05 AM # 
You are explaining rules as someone who doesn't see any problem or doesn't want to see any changes in the future. Please once for a change write your position on the topic or your suggestion where do you see holes in current rules and how to fill it to ensure that fairness is better respected in the rules and that more transparent procedures are ensured. Don't say just we need to wake up.
Mar 10, 2021 9:31 AM # 
@kofols, with all respect to your work in finding all sorts of sports that have chosen and ruled that any complaints, protests or rule-breaches must be listed in the results, @stalas is very clear in pointing out our *current* IOF rules describe what shall be included in results lists, and there is no mention whatsoever that any additional information on complaints, protests or other rule-breaches shall be published.

In fact, I just checked on those rules, and am now more confused than ever. I had a memory that "in the old days" of paper-punch controls, there was a rule that results lists should exactly specify which control(s) was/were missing. I have roughly 15 years of IOF rules on my hard-disk, but I can't find anything like that. I guess if it ever did exist outside my imagination, it was dropped with the introduction of electronic punching and splits-results being published.
But even more confusing: the rule 24 "Results" makes no provisions whatsoever for athletes that have been disqualified - be it for missing punches or sporting unfairness - the only mention is maximum time in 24.8. Yes, other rules define disqualifications (and by the way, rule 20 says somebody missing a punch is not "mispunched", it's dsq for that person too!), but rule 24 says *everybody* is listed (24.4) and ranked by time/finish order (24.5/24.6). Surely a rule-nitpicker could construe a case that even athletes with missing punches must be ranked with all the others? Or maybe my brain is just lacking coffee.
Mar 10, 2021 9:40 AM # 
PS: my oldest copy of IOF-rules in 2004, and I find nothing there about "reason for disq must be mentioned in results". My oldest copy of German o-rules is 1996, and there I find in rule "22. Ergebnisliste [...] mit folgenden Angaben [...] Laufzeit in Minuten und Sekunden, gegebenenfalls Hinweis auf die in der Kontrollkarte festgestellten Fehler oder Hinweis auf eine Disqualifikation" (roughly: rule 22 results list [...] shall include [...] running time in minutes and seconds, if applicable information of errors found on the control card or disqualification pronounced). The German rule still exists with nearly the same wording (B.

So my memory isn't completely failing me, it's just not and possibly never was international ruling.
Mar 10, 2021 10:00 AM # 
@stalas While we're in the business of nominating "most important contribution to the thread", I vote for your...

"Oh sh#t, this is a problem we hoped will never happen, so let's keep hoping that it will never happen again.

which is the attitude that underlies not publishing jury verdicts.
Mar 10, 2021 10:21 AM # 
The episode at WOC 2018 never came before a jury because there was no complaint (I was on that jury and have no idea what the decision might have been had one been necessary). It's definitely being brought up as an example in the current fair play discussions though. (One aspect here is - is it fair to penalise a competitor because of the actions of a spectator which is outside their control?).

Answering a comment from further above, the standard complaint/protest procedure (which is meant to be a channel for resolving minor issues without needing to go to a full jury) broke down in China, because in a more formal society a complaint was seen as something which needed a formal response from the national federation. Since this clearly wasn't going to happen in the necessary time, IOF agreed to refer the complaint directly to the jury to be handled in the same way as a protest. (I definitely learned a lesson here about the importance of cultural differences, and that a process that works well in a European culture won't necessarily work well in other more hierarchical cultures).
Mar 10, 2021 10:25 AM # 
Incidentally, another cultural difference which was important is that in China e-mail is generally regarded as formal correspondence requiring a formal response, so it invariably takes a long time to get a reply to anything - if you want to get a rapid response you use WeChat. I worked this out about two days into the event...
Mar 10, 2021 10:35 AM # 
WOC 2015, on the other hand...wasn't it the case that the Russian women complained +/- protested against their disqualification for having run straight past the last control in the forest relay, on the grounds that other teams received assistance through being told by members of the crowd that they'd missed it?
(Sorry, Graeme for reopening old wounds)
Mar 10, 2021 10:41 AM # 
This is a shock to me!
Are you saying that organisers felt ashamed because of a complaint? So no one had enough power (authority on paper but not when it comes to make decision) no matter what WC rules says? If this is the reason then IOF really need to renovate the jury procedures. It is probably one of the reasons why Athletics, FIS etc doesn't organize jury procedures based on organiser/jury but on jury/jury of appeal base.
Mar 10, 2021 10:49 AM # 
@graeme Thanks! Every citation and nomination is appreciated :-)

One of the core reasons for my clashes with the IOF leadership was exactly around transparency, especially around open communication of issues and possible solutions. In particular, the previous President appeared to have an approach that was closer to the transparency of the Catholic Church.

Here is one example when I shared openly a jury decision that I felt to be important as a future reference for athletes, organisers, EAs and jury members.
Mar 10, 2021 10:55 AM # 
"In particular, the previous President appeared to have an approach that was closer to the transparency of the Catholic Church."

I would say this is corporate micromanagement.
Mar 10, 2021 11:15 AM # 
If organisers want to try to do something about about spectators directing runners they should get a whole lot of volunteers, give them each a variety of T shirts them up a various national colors and teach how to "That way" or "Over there" in a variety of languages. Then station them around the course and tell them if any spectators start giving directions to their countries runners - your volunteers slips into the relevant T shirt and starts misdirecting that country's runners.

But seriously you could have an army of volunteers around the course policing spectator behavior. In most cases just telling someone to stop doing that would probably be enough. Take a photo and threaten further action if that doesn't work. It's a bit of extra work for the organisers but would not be that hard I would have thought. Get your junior squad to do it - they will want to be there watching anyway.

If you did start disqualifying runners who got directions, countries would very quickly be trying very hard to educate their supporters not to do it. But then again you would have to be very careful with a rules like that - if you weren't careful spectators could basically get anyone they want disqualified by shouting directions to them.

A better approach might be to target national federations rather then the runners who got directions. In soccer, clubs are sometimes penalised for bad behavior by their fans.You don't have to disqualify the runner who got directions but you could fine the country. Or penalise them in other ways - reduced number of runners in next woc for example. Put the onus onto the national federations to make their fans behave.

How hard would it have been for the Danish federation to identify that guy in the photo?
Mar 10, 2021 11:25 AM # 
That's a fair point. Certainly I think it would have been quite reasonable for the IOF to tell the supporter in question that he was not welcome at future WOCs (enforcing that would be difficult but it would make a statement about what's not acceptable).
Mar 10, 2021 11:58 AM # 
Very good example. One thing which might also works but we never discussed about it in orienteering. Football, Athletics, Sport climbing have one thing in common. They use yellow and red card for misbehavior. It could be unfairness, bad language, breaching a rule without any intention to gain advantage (not knowing, easy approach for not following the rule,...)

I see this as an option even in the case of following. If there is a protest the jury would have a rule. To implement it would be very hard but we could have 2 years of transitional period in which only yellow card would be possible. If athlete get two yellow cards during these 2 seasons then it is still automatically a red card. Yellow card would be valid for 24 months. What would be the consequence is up to the rules. It could be a ban on participation in the next 6 months, next event, ban of all athletes for specific event, always start first on mayor competitions, to financialy penalise the country, etc.
Mar 10, 2021 12:11 PM # 
@rob, regarding your "just get some volunteers on the course" idea, please note that in the specific example ( and showing the situation just 1 second apart) there are no less than three volunteers present (with official volunteer white t-shirt dress-code), that one of them even seems aware of the pointer, but if one d*ckhead decides he's going to jump out at a single specific moment and point, there's really no way to stop him other than fences and maybe even plexiglass walls, something which is neither in the budget of the organiser nor possible in crowd-control and town usage permissions nor in the interest of the "we want you immersed in the sport" IOF.

Other than the Ethics commission, who thinks even the dog of every person close to an event needs to abide by the rules, I very much doubt anybody will successfully connect a casual spectator to any rule-breaking punishment. You are correct about some football teams being punished for their fans, for example if fireworks etc are burnt in the stadium. These fans have bought tickets and therefore have some kind of legal binding to the event, I assume. But in orienteering, you are in the public, I don't see how spectators can be liable for anything they do other than actually breaking the law.

Quite apart from this, volunteers are not that easy to acquire at all, especially not volunteers well versed in the orienteering rules, therefore able to stand up to foul behaviour of spectators and not inadvertently making things even worse because they don't know what's allowed and what not - and at least here in Germany, taking a photo of somebody and threatening further action is pretty much going to get you nowhere other than a hospital.
Mar 10, 2021 12:22 PM # 
@kofols, regarding your shock. Maybe you need to read up a few things about Chinese "saving face" tradition. Accepting a complaint was quite certainly a big problem for them, more so in view of the pressure they surely felt to provide a perfect event for the first time WorldCup in China, and even exasperated by the fact that many key roles in the organisation were in foreign hands. I mentioned this further up, but the vast number of foreigners in the organisation, some brought in at very short notice before the event and quite definitely stepping on the feet of poor Chinese persons who thought it was their job and the chance of their lifetime to shine, must have been painful to the pride of the Chinese already, to then be confronted with complaints against work that those foreigners partially did or at least controlled must have been truly agonising.
Mar 10, 2021 1:17 PM # 
@jSh Yes, it is understandable. In each case whatever the rulling would be there would be a protest. So they were in situation of lose-lose. But I read that there were disqualifications first (Hubmann IG post) and jury decision reinstated them. I'm just wondering how this is even possible by the rules that organiser disq runners in the first place without the official decision. Usually, a decision is made first on the basis of which organiser publish the provisional results when athletes and teams have time to put protest. If there was no official disq why jury needed to put the athletes back in the results? The jury could simply reject the protest on the same ground as they did. It looks (for the sake of transparency) like a mistake (time pressure) in interpreting the rules and procedures by the jury. Yes, everything went wrong for Chinese. I hope at least that at the end they didn't need to pay IOF for organizing the event.
Mar 10, 2021 1:58 PM # 
@kofols Sorry, you are mixing up things again. There is a process with defined steps, and words have important meanings. There could be deviations, no need to create extra confusion ;-)

"how this is even possible by the rules that organiser disq runners in the first place without the official decision"

First: organisers make official decisions. Organisers can DISQ any athlete.
If there is no protest to the jury, the jury never gets involved.

Normal process (as it was described above):
> Incident
> Organiser's decision (say DISQ)
> Complaint to the organiser against the decision (if any / if none, DISQ is official)
> Organiser's decision on the complaint (say, reject)
> Protest against the decision on the complaint (if any / if none, DISQ remains official )
> Jury decision (DISQ remains official, or athlete has a result)
Mar 10, 2021 2:13 PM # 
... but, to clarify the specific DSQ cases for the middle distance in China:
1) organiser DSQd certain athletes (foreigners, ergo no face loss), partially on own initiative, partially due to complaints from federations watching GPS-tracks,
2) organiser felt unable to decide on the complaints against these DSQs (due to danger of face loss and event as a whole becoming a shambles).
3) After some hours and much discussion basically looking for anybody willing to handle the complaint response, and no official results due to pending complaints, Blair was more or less forced to twist the IOF rules and activate the Jury to decide on the complaints - this is NOT standard procedure, the outcome is documented.
Mar 10, 2021 2:17 PM # 
It looks by the rules :) ... but, second step after the incident could you please describe who has authority to DISQ runner? Is it a race director solely or team decision? Is it subjective reason without formal explanation of what the reason of DISQ is? Does athlete know this? Is DISQ valid if let say race director order timekeeping person to mark xy athlete to be DISQ without presenting formal reasons? I'm talking about written reasons at least before publishing provisional results? If written reasons are not presented is it fair to publish provisional results with DISQ athletes?
Mar 10, 2021 2:26 PM # 
Interesting that underwater orienteering has a judge following each runner (§7.4.6), who do we know with a knowledge of the rules that also can follow Lundanes or Hubmann? One of the main problems for compliance with the rules and fair play in orienteering is of course that most of it takes place well out of sight.

This also makes the idea of yellow and red cards difficult to implement. How do you allocate the cards. Is it enought that a competitor complains about being followed or having seen some behavior that breaks the rules, or must there be any supporting proof/evidence?
I can't see that a change form organizer/jury to jury/appeals jury will improve the situation, either. In orienteering the major part of disqualifications are due to mispunching or lacking punches. It is certainly most efficient to let the organisers handle this instead of a jury. In most races I've been to lately this is efficiently handled in the "red zone".

For important sprint races the organisers will have a number of marshals and control guards in the area. It seems most efficient that they also report any rules infringement they sees, and that this is handled by the jury.

It is claimed that back in the 70'ies a runner with a reputation for following placed in the top for a Norwegian championships, The organisers put disqualified next to his name, and there was never any protest.
Mar 10, 2021 2:31 PM # 
@kofols The Organiser has the official authority to DISQ a runner. In most cases that happens for a missing control, hence automatic, no need for special procedure.

If there is a report of an incident, the Organiser internally decides (not specified how). It is good practice if they consult the SEA, but not a must. The SEA may advise them, but not decide.

No need to present formal reason, or anything. A missing punch is obvious at readout. For all other cases it is good practice, if the organisers ask the athlete / team what happened, or simply tell them that they received a report from a marshal and decided to DISQ. (this is more or less normal procedure)

Worst case scenario: athlete / team sees DISQ in provisional results, asks the Organiser WTF? and they start to discuss what happened.

Then the athlete / team may decide to accept the DISQ or file a formal complaint.
Mar 10, 2021 2:37 PM # 
And because we are trying to match all this closely to rules - 26.10 in combination with 17.2 would allow an organiser to DSQ based on treading on olives.
Mar 10, 2021 2:43 PM # 
@jennycas (a wound I never tire of opening)
WOC relay 2015: Almost right. The Russian women didn't protest. The Russian TM didn't protest within the protest window (he was in quarantine with the men) and wasn't allowed to afterwards. I tried to protest on their behalf but the SEA said I had no right to do so.

There's a back story to this - throughout the planning process I'd argued against that control (never including it in any condes file) - precisely because of this issue. The SEA repeatedly overruled me.

And there's a lesson: We should not be using last controls in arenas full of people and unmapped infrastructure. If this had been taken on board on 2015, the issue at the Riga sprint would never have arisen.
Mar 10, 2021 3:18 PM # 
Even if I find an SEA advising a member of the organiser against acting in the interest of sporting fairness rather questionable, sadly the rules are on his/her side:
27.2 Complaints may only be made by team officials or competitors.
You could have helped the Russian women file their complaint though.
Mar 10, 2021 4:01 PM # 
@graeme It is sad when organisers use rules to block bona fide complaint using a legalistic approach. The time limit for complaints is meant to avoid abuse of the complaint procedure and ensure that results can be announced in a timely manner, not to silence people.

In fact, 27.5 gives an option to accept complaints after the time limit:
"The organiser may set a time limit for Complaints. Complaints received after this time limit will only be considered if there are valid exceptional circumstances which must be explained in the Complaint."
Mar 10, 2021 5:18 PM # 
We have a similar paragtaph to 27.5 in the Norwegian rules. It was meant to cover relays where it near impossible to discover errors in the forking system before you see all the courses, and from experience difficult even then.
I don't think that we hadn't bothered to figure out how to complain would be regarded as an exceptional circumstance.
Mar 10, 2021 5:26 PM # 
@BOM If the team leader is in quarantine with the men, that is slightly different than not being bothered how to complain. I was not there, so I am not aware of all the details, but - coming back to cultural differences - for some teams it is a no brainer to file an official complaint without a team leader, while for other teams it is a no brainer >not< to file anything official without a team leader.
Mar 10, 2021 5:49 PM # 
That, plus language challenges. Check interview with winning sprint-relay team at WSOC 2021 in IOF livestream, for example. Try to find any public statement with the surprising podium athlete of Sprint WorldCup Final 2019, for example. I could probably find a few more. Successful athletes don't always speak English, and certainly not enough to file a well-reasoned / rule-supported complaint, especially not if they're in emotional turmoil because they've been DSQ'd.
Mar 10, 2021 5:50 PM # 
I see your point, but as the time schedule and time to complain are both known well in advance it is up to the teams to find a solution. I can hardly see it as an exceptional circumstance.
A team as large as the Russian will certainly also have several team officials, and should have planned this in advance.
Mar 10, 2021 6:03 PM # 
With organiser/jury TO jury/jury of appeal you read literally. To clarify more clearly what I was thinking.

In current rules we don't have clear definition who in the name of organiser has authority to DSQ the runner (see @stalas post). As you read CMAS rules you probably saw that they have also clear definition who represent organiser in case of a complaint.

We could define this without additional personel, it is just a question how to split responsibility within existing organising team.

In other sports you have 1) organiser 2) jury 3) jury of appeal. We have joined 1) and 2) step under organiser (see @stalas post again).

To make a split we could deside that organiser officialy represent (race director assistant, timekeeping person, starter/finish judge, others) and jury represent (race director, mapper, course setter). Still under organising team but with define roles and responsibility. Today's jury is just for the sake of legibility renamed to jury of appeal but have the same representation as today (SEA, other EA or team managers/leaders).

The main reason is to have different persons when it comes to incident (DSQ) and formal decision of DSQ based on complaint. So only technical reasons for complaint can be solved by organiser but behavioral reasons: federations watching GPS-tracks, following, not able to be present in time, etc (see @jSh and @graeme post) could be reported (complaint) directly to the jury. Jury would wait if there is any complaint on DSQ on technical reasons and if not it would make a decision. The procedure from here on it is the same as today (protest/jury of appeal). Organiser would be also able to make complaint to jury for behavioral reasons reported from marshals.

In this way it would be at least possible to have a clear transparent rule to control also any misbehaviour (crossing embargoed area, training, unauthorising mappping, etc) before the event. Organiser would be able to report to jury which is not possible today.

I just think that examples by @jSh @graeme @stalas (danish spectators, swedish trailler, scottish favourite, embargoed area) are all part of athlete's misbehaviour and this discussion in most cases try to tackle the issues how to control the events as a whole and not just during the event but also forbidden activities that may happen before the event.
Mar 10, 2021 7:13 PM # 
+ provisional results would be publish by organiser with some kind of asterick * by athletes name where complaint already have been made and not DSQ. All athletes (technical reason) would be marked as DNF and not DSQ.

It would be more polite to the teams and media. Also other teams would know that someone made a complaint against their athlete but the final decision is "on pending". It is bad image especially where media follow the event. At WOC could happen that athlete is first DSQd then organizer after complaint reinstate athlete rank and after the protest jury DSQ athlete again. This would look very weird. When athlete is DSQd normally there is only protest left to jury of appeal.
Mar 10, 2021 8:32 PM # 
To me it seems like the system you suggest s is fairly similar to the one most oeganisers use already. Normally it is the competition manager and a few at the top that makes the decission.

Orienteering is different from most other sports in one important aspect; there are quite a few complaints and protests directed towards the organisers (imperfect map, unfair controls, and so on). This is probably one of the drawbacks of not having a standarized and fixed arena. I think this could be a reason to keep the distinction between organiser and the jury like it is today.
Mar 11, 2021 10:10 AM # 
examples by @jSh @graeme @stalas (danish spectators, swedish trailler, scottish favourite, embargoed area) are all part of athlete's misbehaviour

Sorry, but I completely disagree. Athletes can't control spectators, start interval, commentary, area selection, number of officials their country can afford or map quality - all those problems are down to organisers.

Organisers are only human, and we all make mistakes. By the time a problem gets to protest, its too late to fix anyway, and the jury have to decide the least bad option.

Finding someone to blame doesn't fix anything. The real value of the protests should be to make sure the problem doesn't arise again. But, it seems we rather make the same mistakes again rather than admit to them.
Mar 11, 2021 11:47 AM # 
It is similar but we are talking about IOF competition rules so I don't know how NOR or other organisers define complaint/protest procedure.

Here is what I see as a problem.

@stalas says:
If there is a report of an incident, the Organiser internally decides (not specified how)

IOF competition rules doesn't define roles within organisation; who is who. So we don't have clear role who is: referee or judge as it is in Athletics. For example in Athletics you have: management, competition and additional officials. Each with clear define role. We have similar system just that we don't use synonym referee for (starter, timekeeping,...) or judge (race director, mapper, course setter). But in reality they act as a referee (make DNF or DSQ) or judge when they make decisions based on complaints. Who is who is decided on spot and not by the rules.

Because we don't have define roles within organisation we use a system which allows organiser to; first DSQ athlete (referee/judge) and based on complaint organiser can act also as a second time judge before athlete has the right to make a protest. It could be the same person but the most important thing is that when organiser have already made the decision (DSQ) this should be the final decision. It is normal that organiser assign all these roles to the organising team but if you look e.g. athletics; referee in consultation with judge (organiser) can DSQ the athlete and this is final decision by the organiser (no need for complaint procedure) and athlete is eligible to make a protest (jury of appeal).

I don't see how current procedure protect athlete against the organiser.

@stalas wrote:
"Normal process (as it was described above):
> Incident
> Organiser's decision (say DISQ)
> Complaint to the organiser against the decision (if any / if none, DISQ is official)
> Organiser's decision on the complaint (say, reject)"

It just prolongs the procedure. What is the real benefit of complaint? Why not allow athlete to make a protest in case organiser DSQ the athlete?

You have two options here:
1) DSQ (organiser) -> complaint -> organizer -> reject -> DSQ official
2) DSQ (organiser) -> complaint -> organizer -> approve -> official result

In first case athlete can file a protest. But in the second case athlete is happy to get the result back but other teams could feel that organiser's decision is unfair. if I read the @stalas procedure right then other teams can't make a protest because they didn't file a complaint. They thought at that time that athlete was DSQ and therefore was not necessary (no need) to make a complaint.

Maybe I miss something but if this is how IOF system works then we need to rid the complaint procedure. Organiser should assign roles (by the rules) and be able to make final decision just once before publishing provisional results. If athlete feels it is wrong decision -> athlete can make a protest.

This is how procedure works in most sports. And if we can make whole procedures also more transparent than it is today we could have clear idea what problems really are. Also integrity and responsibility of organizer/jury would be grater than today.
Mar 11, 2021 11:50 AM # 
Sorry I made a mistake to include also danish spectator case. I agree with all you said.
Mar 11, 2021 12:22 PM # 
For comparison, the way things work in the USA is:

Organizer (not actually meet director, but timing/results crew) makes determination of time/DSQ/DNF/other.

There is almost never a dispute about the results from the timing/results crew (there sometimes was before epunching), although sometimes there are special circumstances like a lost epunch where the competitor punched the remaining controls on the map, and the timing/results crew may allow the finish time to stand.

In case of a problem, the competitor writes a protest that goes directly to the jury. In the majority of cases, the protest is about a control being in the wrong place (or missing), or occasionally some other other problem with the course or map. What the jury usually needs to decide is whether to void the results, or perhaps some portion of the results. Jury decisions are almost always final.

In the case of a competitor who is unhappy with the jury decision, or a problem that can't be handled by a jury (e.g. a problem that doesn't pertain directly to results at a meet, such as rankings or team selection), or a problem that can't be handled by jury because of time constraints, a grievance can be filed with the national Grievance Committee, which investigates and writes a report to the president of the federation. Grievances are uncommon, in most years there are none. In rare cases (it's happened only once), a grievance report can be appealed to the national board of directors.
Mar 11, 2021 12:48 PM # 
Thanks @jjcote
Chinese case can bring changes.... Athletes have been disqualified by the organiser and all teams were waiting final decision based on complaint to be delivered the organiser. This is funny.
Mar 11, 2021 1:19 PM # 
@kofols "other teams can't make a protest because they didn't file a complaint. They thought at that time that athlete was DSQ and therefore was not necessary (no need) to make a complaint."

This case was thought of :-) If other teams feel that somebody was unfairly reinstated, they can file a complaint, and a subsequent protest, if their complaint is rejected.

Many complaints, especially punching/timing related ones are sorted by the organisers. No need to involve a jury. It would be a waste of time.

You also have to remember, that an orienteering jury is not sitting there "full time". No need, because there are few jury cases on major events. In MTBO the average is around 1 per major event, i.e. 0.2 to 0.3 per competition day.

The two level (or more) justice system is not unknown in many (most?) jurisdictions. There is a general concept that people must have the right to ask a higher authority to reconsider the case after the initial judgement.
Mar 11, 2021 3:23 PM # 
"If other teams feel that somebody was unfairly reinstated, they can file a complaint, and a subsequent protest, if their complaint is rejected."

Is this the famous rule 27.5?

Basicaly this rule could violate the athlete's right to make a protest. It is still the organiser who decide if athlete's complaint (valid exceptional circumstances) will be processed.

"Many complaints, especially punching/timing related ones are sorted by the organisers. No need to involve a jury. It would be a waste of time."

You don't need complaint procedure for this. Organiser should be able to decide if there is a valid reason for DSQ. This is organiser's job to do in the first place. I don't know why you think that organiser can judge only when there is a complaint. Maybe, because we dont see timekeeping, starter, finish official as a judge. They act as a judge along their official duty no matter that computer tell them if athlete successfully finish the course or not. Organiser should not be in a position to revoke its own decision (mistake, bad decision) as a consequence of complaint. Read @jjcote post.

You are talking about "initial judgement". So what it is: first DSQ made by the organiser or organiser's decision based on complaint?

What is important here is:
1) Organiser shouldn't have two votes in the procedure if athlete is DSQd. This is the most important thing why we should rid the complaint procedure.
2) Rule 27.5 -> The rule is just silly. Do you have a real case here? In this case you would have first complaint from athlete A and organiser's decision and after that a second complaint from athlete B (out ot time window) where organiser has first a right to reject to process the complaint and if organiser accept the complaint and process it (make a decision) the athlete would finally have a chance to make a protest. Why we need two complaints, two decisions and not a straighforward protest in the first place? Why we need this loop? The main purpose for athlete is to get an opinion on DSQ from independent jury and not second opinion from the organiser.
3) Athlete should have as short way as possible to make a protest in case of DSQ.
Mar 11, 2021 5:24 PM # 
With all due respect, kofols, I think we are straying far away from realistic fairness issues or other real problems in the IOF world here. Yes, possibly in 2015 the Russians were unfairly hit by a denied complaint, but even that denial seems to be questionable and certainly I believe this is not the most pressing issue in the IOF fairness debate.
Mar 11, 2021 6:46 PM # 
I know this is just a small piece of the fairness puzzle but this example shows how rules can violate athlete's right to make a protest. I don't draw parallels with 2015 but more with the China case where no one (athletes, organiser or SEA) had a direct right to activate the jury. Everyone thought that rules are just fine and organiser's decision is on the way until they realised that will be no decision. Blair made a quick magic & save the day when event already went south...
It just shows that definition of roles within organisation is important step to secure a well-run competition. So this is a question for IOF. Why roles who is who are not regulated by the rules? How is possible that rules blocked the complaint/protest procedure? This is not mistake of Chinese federation. They probably thought; eat what you have cooked. What is the lesson here? Officials make proposals and changes ASAP. Yes, it is true, it is not the most pressing issue so we can forget till next time. Such an attitude is typical of poorly run companies. Let's see what the future holds ...
Mar 11, 2021 6:54 PM # 
The core problem is not about how to "fix" one rule or another, even if the IOF activity is currently focused on that for not daring to tackle core issues.

The core problem is that there is a niche amateur sport built around the love for nature and the appreciation of a subculture of "classic" ethical norms. It relies on a "biosystem" of likeminded athletes and organisers with similar values. It could develop like that, albeit slowly, because it has stayed outside the mainstream development of commercialised sports.

There is an unresolvable conflict between this subculture of ethical norms and the IOF's drive in the past 20 years (since Leibnitz) to bring orienteering into the "mainstream" to enjoy more money and fame.

What makes it worse, is that the IOF is trying to change only some aspect of this "biosystem", expecting that the rest remains intact and serves well ambitious drive to become a more mainstream sport with more money and fame.

The IOF's hope is that enthusiastic amateur organisers in their free time, "controlled" by enthusiastic amateur advisers, will serve the ever increasing demand for TV and publicity, and deliver "perfect" competitions in environments with little understanding of the values and norms of the "biosystem" of the sport.

The problem is not with individual rules, but the IOF leadership's lack willingness to face reality: that one cannot change some key aspects of a complex interrelated system, and hope that the rest will keep working like before, or even better.
Mar 11, 2021 8:12 PM # 
kofols, I must admit I find your persistence in claiming probable falsehoods and using incorrect terminology slightly unnerving. I believe absolutely no rule at any time "violate[d] athlete's right to make a protest."

In China, the organisers may have been slow to respond to a complaint, but they were bound to exactly the same rules as any jury would have been, so having "a direct right to activ[at]e the jury" should have been of no concern at all - firstly the response to the complaint would have been rule-bound, secondly even when the jury was later activated they based their decision on those same rules. I am convinced the Chinese organisers were well aware of the problems with the map and well understood the issues complained against - they simply felt somebody "higher up" in their system needed to carry the burden and sign the response. And when, in due course, the decision was made and the results published, it was clear that the delay in decision meant that the time for additional complaints (or protests against the complaint-decision) would be amply given. The only really limiting factor was the goal to finalise the WorldCup ranking for the grand closing party...
Mar 11, 2021 8:46 PM # 
@jSh ....had a direct right.... compare this with the real world. How many Blairs are out there when you lose your rights? Not many.
Mar 11, 2021 9:03 PM # 
I am not worried. I have worked with more than a handful of very able SEAs that, like nearly every other person in the organisation of the respective events, gave all their arms and legs to save the events from the small and large calamities that inevitably happen. Honestly, it's not the Blairs and not my rights I am worried about when it comes to IOF events.
Mar 11, 2021 9:50 PM # 
So you prefer to lay all your eggs in SEAs basket than change the rules oneday. I believe you because I also have had very good experience with EA when we need to save the day but good organisations make 1001 small changes to make the processes work and you never know which one brings you fame and glory and which one you forgot to implement can brings you defeat, shame and embarrassment. I'm not saying this is a main problem but - cultural differences aside - just don't forget that IOF is here because of the athletes and not vice versa.
Mar 11, 2021 10:12 PM # 
@kofols "don't forget that IOF is here because of the athletes and not vice versa"

That's not exactly the position of the IOF's leadership ;-)

An example of how much the athletes were (not) listened to:

An example of how much the athletes were (not) valued:
Mar 11, 2021 10:43 PM # 
My most vivid memory of any direct interaction with the IOF leadership was when I was returning from a radio location check in a forest, visibly sweaty and dirty but dressed in an o-top that identified me as part of the organisation, jogging along the finish chute for the race next day towards the timing container, when a male person with glasses and a dark-blue shirt with a small stitched IOF-logo called over to me. In the next 5 minutes or so I had a very hard time explaining to him that no, it was not my job to zip-tie the advertising banners to the fences and no, I didn't know whos job it was and no, I wasn't going to move the holy Nokian banner two metres to the right myself to put it into better view of the camera covering the relay changeover line.

Later that day, I saw the CEO with a handful of zip-ties walking towards the finish chute.

Incidentally, I honestly don't know the process how I could even attempt to change any IOF rules. So I think I'll just keep my eggs and try to do my best at any event I am allowed to work at. Even that is difficult enough due to IOFs definitions on maximum radio punch transmission latency, which I struggle to fulfil due to simple physics playing against me.
Mar 12, 2021 8:08 AM # 
A lot of discussion about juries and process. This is of minor relevance to the fairness issue. In Norway there about one jury case a year - at least it was when I cheared the technical committee. Some years ago we also had a three tier system with a separate appeals committee. When they after 20 years had a case it was not possible to judge weeks after the event.

The main problem with fair play in orienteering stil l is that no organiser, judges, referees, juries can actually see hwta is going on.
Mar 12, 2021 8:56 AM # 
Me also, I've no idea how ordinary o-participant would be able to file a proposal for rule change. When I was part of national executive board no one really care if our rules are inline with IOF rules when it comes to specific issues. Our goal was to simplify things as much as possible. At the end we managed to create a new website and use one part of ideas of how results need to be uploaded and what information need to be included. It is still in use today. There were other proposals but no one in the last decade tried to make a step further. Most of the ordinary participants are OK with that and they don't bother with the transparency or fairness issues when it comes to result list or these specific issues. I remember that one time we needed to double check the protest because there was no jury or it was unable to make the decision. Nevermind. The final decision have had implication on final results so I mentioned that we need to update the results which were already uploaded. I think the archived results for this event are still wrong.

Who cares? I think proposal for a change in the rules thru formal way via national federation is probably possible but it is a long way and probably you can't get an adequate answer or clear answer from IOF Council or commission if they support or not. Next option is GA where some federations regularly propose new ideas and rule changes. One option is also to send a memo to the person close to the IOF.

I'm not saying that we or you need to find a way if we think this is important. I'm just saying that IOF would be better managed if such options would exist. But as we all know most of international sport federations are very closed organization with poor transparency of procedures and you can't just knock on the door and get their statement for a specific issue. As @stalas like to says (in my words): They want to be important high influenced sport persons and not just ordinary poor officials.

p.s. I need to exclude at least Blair because I like that he shares his thoughts with ordinary o-folks.
Mar 12, 2021 9:33 AM # 
You could start by sending a message to a relevant person?
Mar 12, 2021 9:51 AM # 
@gg [genuine question] : At least three FOC commissioners from your link are on this thread. Do you count AP posts as "sending a message to an appropriate person". Or do you want emails as well?
Mar 12, 2021 10:49 AM # 
@gg If this is an option are you sure that the corespondence in such way is inline with the IOF internal communication protocols?

If yes, then I am (maybe @jSh also) all in to formulate a proposal but with two conditions. I would like to know in advance that if message is sent that you or others commit themselves to reply and at least say what is your personal view and if you support it or not and not just that you will look into it or this is a case for further discussion with the council before you can make more detailed reply. In case FOC can make a formal response it is even better. Second condition is that you or others agree that your reply is publicly available.

So if this is acceptable (ordinary communication in business) I don't see any problem that we couldn't exchange views and see what final solution could be. If the proposal would be rejected by FOC members it is also fine with me.

Please ask others and if you or others bind to process the proposal I just ask you to post a massage here. It would be a precedent because I do not remember any such case in the past.

I already have a good feeling about that.
Mar 12, 2021 12:10 PM # 
@kofols No need to overcomplicate things. Talk to the President directly.

If he likes the idea, it will become a rule without the commissions ever involved. (see the surprise introduction of the €50 protest fee)

If he does not like the idea, it does not matter what the commissions say. (see the repeatedly postponed revision of the World Ranking system)

Save time and effort for everybody, talk directly to the decision maker.
Mar 12, 2021 12:35 PM # 
@graeme - AP posts definitely don't count
@kofols - I am not saying that anything will happen or making any promises, but you could at least ask the responsible person what the process is - e.g. if you want to ask about changing rules and the process behind it, you should email one of the people listed as responsible for Rules in the first instance (or the Chair).

The contact details for the FOC are there for a reason - so that people can send questions / concerns.

I have only been in FOC for about 2 months and 2 meetings, so I am still learning how it all works myself!
Mar 12, 2021 1:51 PM # 
Thanks @gg, because Blair is FOC secretary and vice-charman + here on AP I hope he can tell us more how process work.

I checked FOC page and I would be interested to send proposal at least to you @gg and Blair, Aron, Helge, David, Unni and Jan as their responsibilities would match with idea proposal. If they can make a promise here on AP then @gg you will need to guide the whole experiment.

I like @gg advice. I think this is the right way. It is not about who is decision maker but more about how idea can be processed thru the institution like IOF where you have more than 1 level of consultation/decision making process. Also if idea get initial support it would need to be evaluated and accepted more widely. It could have affects on several specific rules so it is not just simple rule like - protest fee. Also idea is probably not something totally new for sport officials so I think they can add a lot thru the process and change idea to well thought out proposal. If president would like the idea thru the process I am sure he would find resourses to implement it.
Mar 12, 2021 5:14 PM # 
@kofols Nothing wrong with the advice from @gg. As a new kid on the block, he shared the theory.
As somebody who had 6 years in the IOF structure (4 years as commission chair) and followed things closely even after that, I shared the practice.
Mar 15, 2021 1:59 PM # 
@kofols - going back a few days now, you wrote "@djm Can you update your profile to present yourself?"
Now done and you'll see that I'm one of the three FOC members mentioned by @graeme.

Also, you wrote "I'm not receiving EA newsletters."

The last five EA newsletters have today been posted on the IOF website so now all can benefit from them!
Mar 15, 2021 2:22 PM # 
@kofols Thank you for asking.
@djm Thank you for the introduction.
Mar 15, 2021 5:02 PM # 
Just to add that, as an SEA (x4), an assistant SEA (x2) and a jury member at many IOF Major Events (including WOC, EOC and WCup), I'm following recent posts with particular interest ...
Mar 15, 2021 8:43 PM # 
@djm, thank you very much indeed for posting the EA newsletters!
I did attend an EA workshop once (July 2014 in Switzerland), but I have never received an EA newsletter.
Mar 17, 2021 2:47 PM # 
@djm thank you for posting them. I think with each step like this more and more people will get better knowledge of rules and be aware when organising events. +1 for transparency.

I do have one question here.
What happened with old results? When I went on IOF page -> IOFsite link (left up) and Calendar and Results there are no results before 2019. Is it possible to see them elsewhere? Any chance to be in Eventor one day? I must say I liked old WRE application which allowed to see results for selected athlete or country but I wasn't able to find such function in Eventor. Now it is almost imposible as you first need to find a competition and then if you are lucky to click on athlete. How is possible to see for retired athletes? Maybe I just don't see where and how to search.
Mar 17, 2021 4:30 PM # 
@kofols I've just checked and I see what you mean. Old results are still in Eventor however but you need to employ a workaround to find them. For example, if you select the results for 2019 you can then change the URL to find earlier years too. The URL below will turn up all events between the start of 2016 and the end of 2019 by just changing the first instance of 2019 to 2016:-

(IOF domian)+Events?startDate=2016-01-01&endDate=2019-12-31&organisations=1&mode=List

This is not at all transparent however so I'll pass this on to be remedied.
Mar 17, 2021 4:38 PM # 
I checked a real case scenario (read @robplow post) where this [might] happened "rules vialoted athlete's right to make a protest".

2009 WOC Long distance
If I read correctly Finn coach made a complaint which was rejected by the organiser and then he made a protest in time.

What does "dismissed" mean? - not accepted? Is this what happened or "dismissed" is just a synonym for jury final decision (rejected the protest)? Did jury made or didn't make a formal final decision? Looks that the same procedure happaned in 2005 at WOC Japan.

Can IOF after 16/12 years publish the jury decision and SEA report so we can learn if the jury decision was based on rules? What is the purpose to have untransparent jury procedure? I think jury decisions should be publicly available and no officials, organiser, athlete, coach, team member, SEA or jury member should not jeopardize the integrity of sport.

@robplow 4.7.2020
"At WOC 2009 in Hungary a runner (lets call him X) ran a significant portion of the long course with gold medalist Daniel Hubbman and came 3rd. (They started 4 min apart so any 'butterflies' would not have split them up.) In the post race interview X admitted that in the last part of the race he was so tired that he no longer navigated independently (I don't remember his exact words but that was the gist of it). The Finnish team coach protested - a Finn was in fourth place. The protest was dismissed but I heard the jury vote was 3-2 so quite close. (That is just hearsay - if I have that wrong I would be happy to be corrected)

Also at WOC 2005 in Japan there was protest against a runner in the men's Long for 'following'. It was dismissed."
Mar 17, 2021 11:32 PM # 
@kofols "dismissed" almost certainly means that the jury will have carefully considered all aspects of the protest and decided that it could not be supported.

What it does NOT mean is that the jury rejected the protest before even considering it!
Mar 18, 2021 12:30 AM # 
Kofols, In general the terminology for protests decisions is "upheld" or "dismissed". These words are fairly standard in English legal language.

"Dismissed" simply means the jury made a decision that there was no need to take any action. In either of those cases if the protest had been "upheld", presumably the runner who was accused of following in the protest would have been disqualified.

In everyday language to "dismiss" someone can mean not bothering taking what they say seriously, but that is not the meaning here. "Dismissed" certainly does not mean the jury could not be bothered even considering the protest.

In both those cases the protests were considered by the jury as they should be according to the rules.
Mar 18, 2021 6:57 AM # 
Thanks for the clarification. I was just not 100% sure because legal language which our courts use in judgments is somehow different from the meaning of the word "dismiss". It could be rejected (after consideration) or discarded (not accepted for consideration).

I would also like to ask if you know that these two real case scenario have happened so far:
1. (Organiser DSQd athlete A) - A made a complaint - organizer upheld - Athlete B made a complaint/protest
2. (A got a valid result) - B made a complaint - organizer upheld - A made a complaint/protest
Mar 18, 2021 10:31 AM # 
In one post I stated that jury should - by the rules - be obligated to follow the rules. I meant this only for cases where rules are written, exist and give very clear instruction what athlete can do on the course and what actions are prohibited (lead to DSQ).

I saw in EA newsletter (december 2020) one important bullet which says:
"educate and influence our members, organisers and athletes to understand and respect the importance of Fair Play and to follow the rules of Orienteering."

This "to follow the rules" should be valid also for jury. Because this is not explicitly written in the rules, jury is able to interpret the rules also where the rules are clear.

If we want that Fair Play is respected by the athletes we need to secure that Fair Play is respected also by the jury. No matter if athlete didn't gain any advantage. If we have rules then we need "to follow" them by the (organiser, athlete, jury). It could be very cruel sometimes but this is the reality in other sports too. Now we are in the middle. We can make more or less strict rules but it should be clear if jury need "to follow" the rules if the rule exist.

Example where Jury didn't follow strict rule.

> OL WM 2003 > News
Gunilla Svärd (SWE) remains on the fifth position: Protest against the disqualification approved
Gunilla Svärd (SWE) who was interim disqualified at the World Orienteering Championships in Rapperswil/Jona over the sprint distance remains on position five. The jury has approved a protest deposited by the Swedish team. Gunilla Svärd went back to the last control and punched it after having crossed the finish line. This is not allowed according to the competition rule 26.9 of the International Orienteering Federation IOF. The jury however has now approved the protest of the Swedish team and revoked the disqualification. It justified its decision by stating that Gunilla Svärd did not get an advantage and referred to rule 2.6 of the competition rules. This rule says that the interpretation of the rules shall be guided by the Leitmotiv of sporting fairness. Citation of rule 26.9: Having crossed the finish line, a competitor may not re-enter the competition terrain without the permission of the organizer. A competitor who retires shall announce this at the finish immediately and hand in the map and control card. That competitor shall in no way influence the competition nor help other competitor. Citation of rule 2.6: „Sporting fairness shall be the guiding principle in the interpretation of these rules“
Mar 18, 2021 1:04 PM # 
I'm reposting this post for clarification because I have same thoughts how the rule should be interpreted. As debate went on and no example was presented it was clear that we don't have just one interpretation of the 2.7 rule by the organiser, athlete or jury. Such rules also need to be our focus when we talk about fairness.

@robplow says: 3.3.2021

"rule 2.7 says: Sporting fairness shall be the guiding principle in the interpretation of these rules . . .

So it is not giving you permission to just ignore or overturn rules you personally feel are unfair. It is saying you should interpret the rules that are there with fairness as the guiding principle.

For example: if there was a rule that said " all Norwegian athletes shall be given a copy of the course 1 hour before the first start. I think that would be very unfair - but the rule as written is very clear - not much room for interpretation there, nothing I can do about it."
Mar 18, 2021 8:52 PM # 
Kofols said If we want that Fair Play is respected by the athletes we need to secure that Fair Play is respected also by the jury. No matter if athlete didn't gain any advantage
Yes it does matter, if the athlete did not seek to gain an advantage, and didn't influence anyone else in the race. Gunilla Svard's case appears to be a case of a Jury making the correct decision. Rule 26.9 DOES NOT prohibit someone turning around and running back up the finish chute. It says "may not" and that it is OK if you get permission of the organiser. The rest of the rule refers to someone who retires - that's where the prohibitive word "shall" comes in.
The Jury in this case may have considered that the placement of the final control was unfair - I don't know. What is definite that Svard did not save time.
We need flexibility in the rules where Juries can ensure fair play; that athletes can complete a course without unfairly gaining an advantage.
Mar 19, 2021 11:29 AM # 
If you have different views than me and I know that we all have very different views on how fairness should be regulated by the rules then we might have luck to find a common ground someday.

Here is my view.
My point is that as long as we will have such rules we can't expect from athletes, etc to understand the rules and "to follow" because DSQ "may" or "may not" happen.

I said that we are in the middle where fairness is decided for each case separately based on who is the organiser, who is the rule braker and who sits in the jury.

In Svard's case I just wanted to point out that after 20 years we still have a vague rule. Jury did what they thought was fair and found a wayaround. We look at fairness from different angle and if you ask others you will get two 50:50 camps. I feel that "may not" is not standing there alone as a 50:50 option because the rule says: "may not re-enter the competition terrain without the permission of the organizer." I assume that organisers DSQd her because they didn't give her the permission.

I am not sure way we even have such rule. I also can't remember any sport where is allowed to go back when you cross the finish line. It looks wierd, especially if there is LIVE TV.

To preserve the integrity of the sport we need to have less vague rules. You don't need flexibility where we could agree what should be a fair rule for everybody. The problem is that this task is on IOF shoulders and Federations haven't made any sufficient presure in the last 20 years.

In many cases Jury made decision based on rule 2.7 which can cover any misbehaviour or rule break. This rule is the cause for less fairness and not more fairness. It gives 100% power to the jury to overrule any written rule in the name of fairness. I also haven't found yet any such, similar or same rule in other sports. Ultimately the most fair rule is the one which is written and everybody can understand it only in one way.

So I think we will need to delete the rule 2.7 oneday and find a better way to keep flexibility in the rules. My suggestion would be to look how other sports solved this issue. To go in this direction we would be forced to find a common agreed rules for many misbehaviour cases we have seen in the last 20 years. If not, then for sure we can expect that such case-by-case jury decisions will further jeopardize integrity of the sport and athlete's trust in everyone who should - by the rules - protect the fairness in the sport.

e.g. Skiing has this rule. Jury must act according to the written rules. Flexibility comes into play where there is no specific rule to solve the case.
"Questions not Covered by Rules
In general, the Jury makes decisions on all questions not clarified by the Rules"
Mar 19, 2021 11:57 AM # 
It is difficult to write rules (or instructions) that are perfect and that anticipate all circumstances. For example, imagine a course where a competitor finds a route somewhere during a course that runs directly through the finish area, and crosses the finish line (perhaps in the opposite direction). Taking such a route would technically mean that the competitor had "crossed the finish line" and should not be allowed to continue, but that is not what's intended. For many written rules, it's possible to come up with circumstances where the intent of the rule does not apply. I don't know the specifics in the Svard case, so I don't know if there were any details that would complicate matters, but the possibility is always there.
Mar 19, 2021 5:48 PM # 
IIRC, Svard went back after being told she hadn't punched the last control, breaking the "no outside assistance" rule as well as the "don't reenter the area" rule.

Whatever the merits of the DQ, what is certain is that the problem was caused by the confusing final control amid unmapped infrastructure in the finish arena. It could have been avoided by not having such a control. (just like the Orr DQ, the Danish spectator, the Russian relay team etc etc).

“Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
Mar 19, 2021 7:05 PM # 
I went to to check splits and it seems that jury made also a decision on her final time and place.

With final time she would be 9th but it seems that jury also predicted her leg time based on splits of other competitors and defined her time 0.1 less than time of 6th place athlete.

It is unfortunate mix of unclear rules, responsibilities and competences between organiser (objective/technical reason) and jury (subjective/behavioural reason) that we have got here after 20 years. Two different decisions. Not good for the fairness and integrity of the sport.

It is time to eliminate complaints from the procedure and to make one jury composed of organisers, jury members and SEA. Same org. structure as they have in skiing. It is more logical and works much better. Also SEA role would be much more important than just adviser. One responsible person to control/run the show.
Mar 19, 2021 8:24 PM # 
Where are you seeing that in the splits? Could you share an annotated screen shot of what you mean? Her final time in the splits places her 5th, with the inclusion of a very long last split (as would be expected).
Mar 19, 2021 8:28 PM # 
-> Interaktive Routenanalyse
Mar 19, 2021 8:47 PM # 
Ah, I see, thanks.
Mar 20, 2021 10:51 AM # 
kofols: "Also SEA role would be much more important than just adviser."

Section 31 in the IOF Competition Rules demonstrates that the SEA already IS much more important than just an adviser! He/she can require changes to be made and must approve virtually every aspect of the competition beforehand.

Thus there can be a conflict of interests when advising on Complaints/Protests which is why the SEA, although chairing the Jury, has no vote.
Mar 20, 2021 11:15 AM # 
Yes, but SEA role should be compared to TD (technical delegate) in skiing to see pros and cons of both roles. TD is also a jury president and have the final say in the case of a tie (6 jury members). It is logical that someone who has knowledge and was appointed by the FIS that has authority to control the output of the organiser work (like SEA) but also the output of the Jury (SEA not). He (TD) is the most responsible guy but SEA is not.

We have the same problem like skiing where 1001 thing could happen before or during the race and someone need to be in full charge. It is a little different logic behind compared to orienteering. In skiing you have only Jury composed of (organiser, jury members and TD) and no complaints. If current model doesn't work in all predicted aspects it may be time to look what are other models & how they work. Take a look at FIS Alpine CRules.
Mar 21, 2021 6:06 AM # 
When discussing old cases, it should be remembered that the rules have changed over the years. If I recall correctly the 2005 rules stated that competitiors SHOULD navigate independently. Shortly after this was changed to SHALL.
The complaint in WOC 2005 was that two runners had actively collaborated during the races. The organisers could not find any proof of this and dismissed the complaint. A protest was filed and the jury had a long(ish) hearing. The cases was dismissed as the two runners in question clearly did not share any language they could have communicated with.
Mar 23, 2021 12:24 PM # 
@djm "Thus there can be a conflict of interests when advising on Complaints/Protests which is why the SEA, although chairing the Jury, has no vote."

I don't fully understand the logic behind appointment and whitdrawal of jury members and their "Conflict of Interest". Did we really formulate COI in the right way?

If you look Chinese case.

@blairtrewin says:
Actually, the World Cup jury (and two alternates) was selected and announced before the start, but two of the three jury members had a conflict of interest and one of the alternates couldn't be located, so we had to spread our net more widely....


Rule 29.10 (WOC) The jury is appointed by the IOF Council. It shall consist of 5 voting members from different Federations
Rule 29.13 (Wcup) The jury shall consist of 3 voting members from different Federations. Two members are appointed by the IOF Council. One member is appointed by the Federation of the organiser.

IOF council didn't appoint the jury in this case. Let's say that the SEA had the power to appoint a jury under the same rules. When is the right time to avoid conflict of interests? I believe that this is before the event and the rules are OK here. Also SEA should be sure that person who is nominated and accepted the jury role is fully competent to proceed the protest.

But I don't see any rule where jury member or (team member) could say: I'm out, athlete from our team just made a complaint/protest and I have conflict of interests. The message is just the opposite. It could be understand like: I "the jury member" am able to make sensible&fair decision in all cases unless in case where athlete from my country is involved. Is the confidence in the jury member's knowledge, trust & fairness really that low? OR that jury members publicly acknowledged that in the case of their athlete it would be difficult to make decision in accordance with the rules.

I know it would be harder for jury member to make a personal decision in such case. Therefore the composition of the jury (e.g. skiing) is not changed during the event. TD (compared to SEA) has a final say in case there is a tie. They have 6 jury members and if it is 4:2 the mayority is reached even if one or two jury members might have other thoughts. 4:2 is better than 3:2 (orienteering) and if it is 3:3 TD vote is decisive. It is great to have group decision process but at the end TD is the most responsible person that event is a success and fair to all athletes. His/her reputation may be at stake and he may lose the trust of the FIS. It clearly shows that the integrity of the jury should not be questionable (no need of any withdrawal).
Mar 23, 2021 12:30 PM # 
In Alpine skiing rules (COI) is mentioned only once. COI may occur mostly in the work of officials or organizers and not athlete and jury.

Control by the FIS Council
The FIS Council exercises control over the adherence to the principles of this Rule by National Ski Associations and all organisers. Should a contract or individual clauses thereof, create a major conflict of interest for
the FIS, a member National Ski Association or its organiser, then this will be evaluated by the FIS Council. Full information will be provided so that the appropriate solution can be found.
Mar 23, 2021 5:53 PM # 
@kofols, I suggest you read rule 29.7. I found it by searching for "conflict", it's the third hit (it would even have been the first hit for "interest").
Mar 23, 2021 6:51 PM # 
I read it but do you undertstand what are possible conflict of interests? I compared WOC 2003 and WC China 2019 for (jury members only) and got two different answers.
May 18, 2021 2:05 PM # 
The results of the European Orienteering Championships 2021

Sprint Relay: A and B won Gold with the home team (A’s sister was the course setter)

Knock out Sprint: B won Gold, A won Silver (B’s brother was the course setter)

Sprint: A was 6th, B was 11th (no siblings were involved as course setters)

Just the facts. What a coincidence…
Jun 11, 2021 2:03 PM # 
Deep Trust, the Cornerstone of Orienteering

There are two important cornerstones of major international orienteering events: deep trust in Fair Play, and willful blindness to acknowledge that this trust is supported only by a near religious belief in this very trust itself.

In this post I write about the nature of this trust at individual level. In my next post I will write about the nature of this trust at institutional level, including the dangers of trying to build an ever larger house of cards of international orienteering anchored on this trust.

The three aspects discussed in this post are
– trust as a key tribal identity attribute for orienteers;
– the way affective and cognitive trust works, and;
– the imperative for our tribe to dismiss any doubt about this trust.

In Trust We Trust.
Jul 16, 2021 8:32 PM # 
@djm Any relevant news docs from Presidents conference?
Jul 17, 2021 12:13 AM # 
There wasn't one at WOC. I think there will be an online one later in the year.
Jul 20, 2021 4:33 PM # 
Jul 20, 2021 6:00 PM # 
Indeed that's a very interesting development for three reasons:

1) It is a new federation let to the honey pot. There used to be a strong argument that adding more federations to the core 5 would complicate arrangements. ;-)

2) FIS used to simply adopt promising disciplines e.g. snowboarding. Ski mountaineering should have been an easy target. Yet, they did not.

3) ISMF is a very small federation with an annual budget of around 1/8th of the IOF. (€91k in the last season, €140k in the previous one in peacetime)

My best guess is that it was seen as a genuine winter sport (like curling, another fairly recent entrant), and not just a winterised summer sport.
Jul 20, 2021 7:07 PM # 
But, but....IOF now has 75 members, including Nepal, both Koreas, Iran......please can we join the club?
Jul 20, 2021 7:35 PM # 
What made you believe that the number of member federations is an argument for inclusion and not just a convenient option to reject federations who keep annoying the IOC leadership? ;-)

Read Heinz Tschudin's frank review of the Olympic effort from 1992. In a far less commercial world the core question was already rather straightforward:
"How much money will you bring in?"

Please note, that the first negotiations to include ski-orienteering in the Olympics started 77 years ago, well before the establishment of the IOF :-)
Jul 20, 2021 7:52 PM # 
stalas: sarcasm.....
Jul 20, 2021 8:17 PM # 
That makes sense :-)

(sorry, my sarcasm meter got oversaturated recently)
Jul 20, 2021 8:36 PM # 
Orienteering is a popular sport (NOT yet), commercial (NOT yet), easy to understand (NOT yet), using high end equipment (NOT yet, ok we use lamps), forest in ZAE (NOT yet),....

But we have dreams. Never give up!

Edit: international translation; ZAE -> UAE
Jul 20, 2021 10:31 PM # 
I don't believe orienteering ever will be, nor should be, in the olympics.
Deep trust is not an element that should be incorporated into an olympic sport. It is not a fair sport and never will be, and fairness is very difficult to manage in it.
Jul 21, 2021 3:39 AM # 
Deep trust is not an essential element of orienteering, critical thinking is.
That is why communists all over the globe dislike orienteering.

Speaking of fairness, do you think soccer is fair? With all the penalty shots awarded for theater, like in the recent game where England cheated its way into euro final?
Jul 21, 2021 5:09 AM # 
There are many sports, Olympic and otherwise, that aren't fair. Sometimes you know in advance which nations are going to win medals in sports like gymnastics and diving (that involve a huge amount of subjectiveness) because of judges' bias towards athletes/countries (or in the present instance, neutral) that *should* be performing well. Maybe I'm not trained well enough to see the subtle nuances but many of them look like they're doing the exact same thing and yet some are scored more highly than others.
Jul 21, 2021 6:02 AM # 
If we put other sports aside what IOF achieved so far with inclusion of orienteering in many multisport events? Do we have clear goals beside waiting to become olympic sport? What are real costs to be present at these events? How international image of orienteering changes over the years? How many countries benefited from higher international status? (support from goverment, national media interest, sponsors interest in athletes with lets say WG medals? etc

I mean does IOF collect these data?

On the other hand why we can't work with other outdoor sports to organize Outdoor Olympics? Orienteering, trail run, etc.
Jul 21, 2021 7:16 AM # 
@yurets I am just wondering what made you believe that communists did not like orienteering. 4 of the 10 founding members of the IOF were "communist" countries (BUL, CZE, DDR, HUN). In 1961 that level of international activity was not possible without strong support from the Party.

Although the SU did not join the IOF till 1988(?) or so, there was a well developed orienteering life. One of the strongest clubs was Dynamo (founded by Iron Felix under the patronage of the GPU - i.e. as communist as it gets ;-) ).

For the reason why deep trust is a cornerstone of elite orienteering, you can read here:
Jul 21, 2021 10:51 AM # 
Leibnitz conventions should remain in calculus.
Jul 21, 2021 12:00 PM # 
My teeth remain in calculus.
Jul 21, 2021 12:07 PM # 
There was ski-orienteering in the Nordiska Spelen in the early 19-hundreds. These were a Winter version of the the Olympics and also multisport games held every 4 year. Ski-orienteerng was not among the sports that entered the Winter Olympics whne that was started and Nortdiska Spelen abandoned.

During the 1930'ies orienteering had grown to such a major sport that it nearly made it into the XII Olympic Games. In 1940 Japan would celebrate the 2600 years anniversary for their present royal dynasty. It was felt that the Olympic games would be a suitable backdrop for the celebration. Several new stadiums in and around Tokyo were planned, and IOC’s president count Baillet-Latour had inspected the sites. Under the Olympic Games in 1936 Tokyo was awarded the 1940 games with 37 votes, while Helsinki in Finland got 26 votes. In 1937 Japan started war against China. The Japanese Olympic Committee felt that they could not organise the games under the circumstances, and thus declined the honour on July 29th 1938. As the runner up in the last vote Helsinki was then awarded the summer games. Helsinki already had most of the stadiums that were needed and on October 19th 1938 the official invitation to the XII Olympic Games was posted.

The program for the Games included more events than ever before. In a book from 1945 Axel Holland states that orienteering, too, was suggested for the games. Later sources seem to indicate that orienteering should be included as a demonstration sport. The planning was so far advanced that the courses were probably set. Once more the political situation created problems for the organisers. September 1st 1939, the Second World War started in Europe. On October 10th the Finish organising committee declared that it continued the preparations for the games, and would invite athletes from all nations not at war. Three weeks later Finland was invaded by the Soviet Union. In January 1940 the organising committee sent out a message to all nations that, “it depends on the athletes of all the world whether this message shall be the last, or not”.
It was the last!

The map in Finland was used just after WWII for ther Nordic academic championships.

I've not been able to find anything about the olympic inclusion in Swedish year books from the 40'ies
Jul 21, 2021 10:16 PM # 
That's very interesting. Just wondering where did Tschudin's statement regarding negotiations with the IOC starting in 1944. Finland appeared to be quite busy in '44 to start negotiations with the IOC.

It would make sense to share your findings with the IOF to add it to the official history on orienteering. They were quite happy to learn that MTBO started in 1893 in Austria, years before the first open pedestrian event in Scandinavia.
Jul 22, 2021 9:28 PM # 
Tove Alexanderssson is likely a medal contender for SkiMo in 2026 and that could be big for orienteering given that Skimo until recently wasn’t her first (and likely not 2nd or 3rd) sport.
Jul 22, 2021 11:18 PM # 
Given the backlash from the vaccine rollout, ScoMo could well be rolled at the next election.
Jul 24, 2021 4:57 AM # 
The key to success in elite orienteering is Deep Distrust. When the pack goes off the map due to magnetic anomaly, and you read the map and go to the control.

Deep trust we have here is that those who stand for integrity, and do the right thing, will be given a seat next to Jesus who is enthroned in Heaven next to the Father.
Jul 24, 2021 2:48 PM # 
@stalas Unfortunately I do not read Finnish, but as the Swedish speaking minority in Finland adopted orienteering early FSO's (Finlands Svenska Orienteringsforbund) history from 1983 is a useful mine of information. There was clearly a lot of orienteering activity in Finland during WWII. In 1944 there were 289 runners entered for the Finnish championship. So it could well be that negotiations with the larger Finnish speaking federation was underway.

Fun fact: The 1940 Helsinki Olympics was planned wit three orienteering events.
A- Finland, Norway, Sweden
B- shorter for the rest
C- Women

Most of what I wrote in the previous post has already been published in Orienteering Today (as a personal route choice through the history of orienteering). IOF also got all the magterial in connection with the 50 year anniversary. I wrote most of the anniversary IOF Report issue. When contributing to the official history you are not as free to express your own interpretation of history and a couple of the installements I wrote were never published.
Jul 29, 2021 5:30 PM # 
There was an interesting point in the Council meeting minutes #207 related to the discussion of the successfully organised WOC in Czechia:
"The fact that all 3 medals in the men long competition went to 3 athletes running together requires follow-up discussion."

This requirement for a “follow-up discussion” looks strange, because if the Council considers it a “fact” that these athletes were “running together” – in the sense of following or cooperation – then at least 2 of the 3 broke the rules and might be subject to disqualification. Is the “follow-up discussion” required by the Council aims at trying to find an argument to justify that these athletes were not disqualified?

In this post I introduce a few ideas to help the work of the Council:
Jul 29, 2021 7:23 PM # 
Even if you could conclude that "at least 2 of the 3 broke the rules" (which I don't think you can), it's still a challenge at the very least to determine which two they were. People might have an opinion on that, or it might be "obvious", but that's not the same as having enough proof to disqualify someone.
Jul 29, 2021 7:48 PM # 
It was the IOF Council who concluded that it was a fact that they were running together, i.e. that it was a fact that they broke the rules.
Jul 29, 2021 9:38 PM # 
@jjcote it's still a challenge"
Not so much a challenge as a trap.

The problem is with the format.
The trap is to try to blame the athletes.
Then, when you inevitably conclude there's no way to prove blame, nothing happens.
And next year a different athlete will get cheated out of a medal they deserve.
Jul 29, 2021 11:03 PM # 
The ultimate responsibility - as in physiological doping - has to lie with the athlete.

But for that to work, we need clear rules as in AD:
"If marker X exceeds level Z, you are deemed to be a cheater, independent whether you benefited from any doping or whether it was your conscious action that led to marker X to exceed level Z."

Currently, all we have is at the level of "Athletes compete without the aid of doping." That is sufficient to point out that the competition was not fair, but we need more specific rules, just like in AD.
Jul 29, 2021 11:07 PM # 
If questioned I'm sure the athletes would undoubtedly lie.
Jul 29, 2021 11:22 PM # 
Yes, that's why we need something measurable to set limits by.

Now we have the technology in the form of electronic punching and GPS. All we need is an agreement on markers and limits that determine what is tolerated and what is not.
Jul 30, 2021 3:17 AM # 
OK Stalas - come up with some concrete suggestions.

Bernt (BOM) - you are something of an O historian. Would you happen to have earlier versions of the Foot O rules? Going back to say 2000?

I am curious to see the evolution of rule 1.2 which currently says:
In individual interval start races the competitors navigate and run through the terrain independently.

which is quite a vague wording.

As I recall it used to say ". . . Shall navigate and run through the terrain independently"

and then for a while it said ". . .are expected to navigate and run through the terrain independently".

(my emphasis)

But I am not at all certain I have that right.
Jul 30, 2021 4:51 AM # 
Longer start intervals, therefore fewer competitors via more stringent selection criteria.
Interleave female and male starters to break the monotony.
Hagaby or similar sort of courses which further break up the packs. Butterflies are pointless.
Of course, this will reduce the spectating quality. Seems there may be a fairness-media tradeoff.
Jul 30, 2021 6:39 AM # 
Longer start intervals doesn't solve the problem if there is no reduction in number of athletes in the final. First step would be to bring back qualification races. Every sport with this kind of problem use qualifications + smaller final field. Which IOF goals are in danger if we go this route?
Jul 30, 2021 8:08 AM # 

We already see top athletes deciding not to race some disciplines, extra races in WOC week would make it even worse. The main goal in danger is the idea of having a WOC to determine the best orienteer in the world. The second is to destroy "Long" as a WOC discipline across the majority of nations whose athletes would need to prepare instead for a 60 minute race.

There are other drawbacks, but those two are enough to be going along with.

Other endurance sports which have qualifying races for ~100min races? have qualifiers way before the World Champs to give athletes a half-decent chance to recover. That would work, but I strongly suspect many people calling for qualifiers are thinking more about "extra WOC slots" rather than event fairness.
Jul 30, 2021 8:13 AM # 
Might work if everyone lived within easy travel distance of the qualifying event but not all countries are near enough to Europe. Still doesn't solve the following problem regardless.
Jul 30, 2021 10:29 AM # 
@rob - the Wayback machine ( was helpful plus my harddrive full of old files. Sadly, I can only trace the IOF rules back to 2004.
For a short while, I've dumped all IOF foot-o rules I could find here:

You were pretty much spot-on with the wording evolutions, just note that there was a major rule reorg in 2010, moving the relevant sentence from "26 Fair play" to "1 Definitions". The sentence in the 2004 rules has a vertical bar next to it, denoting that it changed in 2004 compared to the earlier version (however sadly I can't find anything older than 2004).

Here's the nitty gritty detail:

# IOF foot orienteering Competition rules (2004-01-01).pdf
26.2 In an individual interval start race, competitors are expected to navigate and run through the terrain independently.

# IOF foot orienteering Competition rules (2007-01-01).pdf
# IOF foot orienteering Competition rules (2008-07-01).pdf
# IOF foot orienteering Competition rules (2009-06-01).pdf
26.2 In an individual interval start race, competitors shall navigate and run through the terrain independently.

# IOF foot orienteering Competition rules (2010-03-01).pdf
# IOF foot orienteering Competition rules (2011-01-01).pdf
# IOF foot orienteering Competition rules (2013-01-01).pdf
# IOF foot orienteering Competition rules (2014-01-01).pdf
# IOF foot orienteering Competition rules (2015-01-01).pdf
# IOF foot orienteering Competition rules (2016-01-01).pdf
# IOF foot orienteering Competition rules (2017-01-01).pdf
# IOF foot orienteering Competition rules (2018-01-01).pdf
# IOF foot orienteering Competition rules (2019-01-01).pdf
# IOF foot orienteering Competition rules (2020-02-01).pdf
# IOF foot orienteering Competition rules (2021-01-01).pdf
1.2 In individual interval start races the competitors navigate and run through the terrain independently.
Jul 30, 2021 10:49 AM # 
"The second is to destroy "Long" as a WOC discipline across the majority of nations ..."
To preserve Long for all nations we made tiers system where lesser nations have 1 athlete. O.K., so this is the minimum and if we can"t change that we need to find a solution for A and B final to reduce number of athletes in A final and longer start intervals. How many athletes we want to have in A final to satisfy TV requirements and interest from TOP nations?
Jul 30, 2021 10:54 AM # 
@ Rob gave me the excuse to dump another unpublished and unfinished instalment of the orienteering history:

100 years in the forest – a personal route choice through the history of orienteering

A story of not so independent navigation

“Co-working determined the district championships” was the head-line for Dalarnas district championship in 1937. The two first had started with 1 minute between them and agreed before hand that they should run together. For part of the course they were also were together with the eventual bronze medallist. This points to one of the major problems of orienteering. It is supposed to be independent navigation and self-made route choices. On the other hand it is possible to gain time by preying on the skills of others. But, 25 year old Wåhlberg was a well-deserved champion in this great orienteering district, and has plenty of previous merits, the year book Skärmen concludes. For one of the first times the common sentiment that it is OK for the best to gain some advantage is clearly expressed.

Nevertheless, many worried about the following and collaboration that took place in the forest. The following year it was suggested to place referees in the forest and disqualify runners that were together at three consecutive controls. The idea does not seem to be used much at the time, and it might no be very workable. For the Swedish relay championships in 1960, it took several weeks before the result list was ready. Kinnaström and Tomestorp started as seven and eight team (there was still individual start for the first leg to split the runners). At the second change over it was obvious that they worked together, but they were not removed from the relay. After they finished it was clear that these two clubs had passed all 29 controls together. They were first removed from the result list. Then they were reinstated, and a thorough investigation started. It was apparent that at least 70 teams were more or less involved in team work, and in the end none of them were disqualified.

The problem was (and is) off course largest for the relay with its mass start. The early Swedish relays also had mass start in the darkness, which made the problem even worse.

The rules are crystal clear, the Norwegian training committee wrote in 1965, it is the practical implementation that is difficult. The solutions they point to are good maps, good courses, a sensible start interval and a search for better methods to spread the runners in relays. When all of this fails the following should be reported.

To make the competitions spectator friendly they should not stretch out too much in time. To make them fair the runners should not start too close together. For the Swedish Championships 1954 a curious start method was tried. The organisers let out groups of 20 runners with 20 minutes between the groups. The sixth start group looked like a Swedish orienteering hall of fame, and the group stayed together for more or less the whole course. Ten of the 13 best started in this group.

Disqualify the runners when the situation is clear, the Swedish elite runner Pontus Carlson demands in 1968. But he does not solely put the blame on the runners. He demands better courses, in areas that encourage plenty of route choices. He also wants fewer controls so the result is decided by the route choice between the controls and not in finding the flag. In addition he advocates longer start interval.
Jul 30, 2021 11:02 AM # 
In the meantime, I found the 2000 version of the rules (and added it to the dump linked above). The rule 26.2 was inserted in 2004 and did not exist in 2000, however even then, Appendix 2 (Principles for course planning) did include mentions of following in paragraph 3.8 Route choices: "Route choices make competitors think independently and will split up the field, thus minimising ‘following’." And also paragraph 3.5.1 Control sites mentions: "Controls [...] must be visited by the competitors in the given order, if the order is specified, but following their own route choices."
Jul 30, 2021 11:16 AM # 
I managed to find some IOF rules from 1995 and 1998 (as HTML only, now also at the link above). And following BOMs "100 years of following" here's a gem from a 24 years distant past, when the IOF hoped to be added to Olympics...
Jul 30, 2021 11:50 AM # 
Bernt - that is really interesting - just shows the problem is hardly a new one.

JSh - thanks for all that.

I was half right - there was never a version of that rule said 'are expected to navigate independently' but the wording certainly did drop the 'shall' when the rule changed from 26. to 1.2.

It just so happens that change happened in early 2010. Not long after WOC 2009 in Hungary when the Finnish team protested against bronze medalist Mikhail Mamleev (IT) who ran a considerable part of course with gold medalist Daniel Hubmann and more or less admitted in a post race interview that for the last part of the course he was so tired he just ran behind and didn't look at the map. The protest was dismissed but I heard the jury was only one vote away from upholding the protest>

Maybe it was just a coincidence that the rule changed very shortly after that, but to me it certainly looked as though the rule was change to make it almost impossible to disqualify anyone for not navigating independently. Ie it seemed to me the rule was changed because they did not want the possible embarrassment and scandal of a successful protest on those grounds - as nearly happened at WOC 2009.

ie rather than looking at ways of reducing "following" they just made it impossible to ever disqualify anyone for it.
Jul 30, 2021 12:26 PM # 
In the USA rules, there's no rule against drinking directly out of the water jug (no cup) at a water stop, but there is a rule saying that the water must be presented in a way that makes that impractical. Similarly, there's no rule against swimming, but there is a rule that says that you can't have a leg where swimming is a reasonable route choice. I think there are ways for the organizers to make following much less practical, at the cost of the level of excitement for the media product. I don't know what someone expects an athlete to do when finding himself in the presence of someone else of similar or better ability. Courteously step aside and wait until he's out of sight? What happens when each thinks he is the lesser? Or the better?
Jul 30, 2021 12:41 PM # 
@Robplow - I do have a concrete suggestion, but it may take a day or two to write it up in an easily digestible format

The core of the problem, as you pointed out, is that the IOF has sheepishly moved towards making it less likely that rule breakers can be disqualified. This saved face for the IOF, but strengthened acceptance of rule breaking.

When it comes to following and cooperation we are in the era of doping when DDR swimmers and Festina cyclists were enjoying their heydays.

To implement a solution there shall be a major change in approach. There is no perfect solution, but it makes a huge difference if the IOF
A) protects the Clean Athlete (at the expense of potential unfairness towards likely cheaters), or
B) looks away even when rule breakers openly admit running together, and does not give a flying flamingo about the Clean Athlete who runs alone.
Jul 30, 2021 12:44 PM # 
@rob, your "expected" rule did exist in the 2004 version.

I very much doubt the 2010 move after WOC 2009 was a coincidence, but thanks to BOM, we know the problem as such was waaaay older. There have been many, many clever post-race analysis' and course-setter huddles on how to possibly reduce the risk of following, be it butterflies or phi-loops or whatever, plus with electronic punching and certainly with pretty good GPS tracking (in forest at least) there would be tools to prove it happened - but from there to "we disqualify you" is a political step that the IOF probably doesn't wish to go.

@jj, stepping aside possibly not, but there had been suggestions 10 years ago of short "penalty loops" - again, with electronic timing there would be the option to even deduct the running time in the penalty loop from the end result.
Jul 30, 2021 1:58 PM # 
Courteously step aside and wait until he's out of sight?

obviously no one is going to do that. nor should they be expected to - it is not their fault they got caught up. You cannot be penalized for being caught up.

But what should you so if you are caught? the rule talks about "independent navigation" So what does that actually mean?

I would be very interested to know how others would define 'independent' in a situation when you have been caught up.

Here's a hypothetical: imagine you have been caught up and there is a major route choice leg coming up. If you decide that you are just going to take the same route as the person who caught you, clearly that is not 'independent navigation'. But lets say there are two main route choices A and B. you study them and decide that A is the route you would take if you were on your own. But at the control the person who caught you heads off on b and you decide that it is clearly going be faster running B with company than running A alone. That is clearly also no longer 'independent navigation'. if you were truly 'navigating independently' you would still choose A.

Of course to actually make that decision would take someone of uncommonly high moral fiber and, you could argue, stupidity - why throw away the chance of a better result and all that might go with it: prestige, funding, sponsorship, etc , . And you can bet that your coaches/ managers etc might not be too happy about you throwing the chance of a better result that reflects well on them.

Also of course the thought processes I describe in that hypothetical are not something that the rules can ever address. You can't ever prove that someone was not 'navigating independently' - uless they actually admit.

So defining what it actually means to 'navigate independently' would not be a rule that could be used to stop people doing it. But it could be aspirational to define it. At least then people would know that just taking the same route as the person in front is not morally acceptable - even if they know they can't actually be disqualified for it. They can just say: "I was always going to take route B."

It would not solve the problem but it certainly would not hurt to actually define what 'navigating independently' actually means. Right now there seem to major attitudes to 'following' when caught up. One is that it is entirely OK, just part of the game, sometimes you get lucky and other times someone else gets lucky. The other attitude is that it morally wrong to do that - against the spirit of the sport and fundamental principles of fairness.

I would suggest that given the rules talk about 'navigating independently' the latter attitude is clearly implied. But it is never talked about and there is never any official comment or action or any sense of expectation that such values be upheld. everyone knows there will never be any negative consequences.
Jul 30, 2021 2:00 PM # 
It is interesting how the rules change in response to what is perceved as a problem at the time. The early rules (1995-2000) had provisions for helping injured competitors, but also stated that there should be no other assistance.

2004 are expected to navigate independently was if I remember my conversations with David Rosen correctly mostly aimed at the course planners. It was realised that it was difficult to regulate the conduct in the forest and the solution was better course planning.

"Shall" in the 2007 version was probably introduced the year before after the protest during the Japan 2005 WOC. Again IOF tries to lay the responsibility on the runners.

The long 2010 text is obvously a response to the accident during the relay in Hungary the year before - and also somewhat a return to the 1995 text.
Jul 30, 2021 2:20 PM # 
You cannot be penalized for being caught up.

Yet there has been a suggestion from someone on this thread that the caught runner should retire from the race at that point!
Jul 30, 2021 2:24 PM # 
Yes tricky there are sometimes some very bad ideas aired here
Jul 30, 2021 3:10 PM # 
As in AD work, where it is not defined what performance improvement is, there is no need to define what 'navigating independently' actually means.

But there could be limits set, as in AD, that define when an athlete gets DQ-ed for not navigating independently. Say, when punching on 3 consecutive controls within [-10, +20] seconds without choosing a different route that led him out of sight of the athlete who started later.

Nobody can be expected to show the moral fibre not to hang on (or for that matter, not to take the pill that will help him to perform better), but athletes can be punished for doing it. Setting clear rules on DQ due to following would also protect athletes from unhappy coaches/managers, as WADA rules protect athletes who do not want to take that pill.

For example, the athlete who is caught up could be given a choice:
a) build up a positive gap within a leg or two (doable if being caught was due to a mistake of the better runner who started earlier);
b) take a different route choice at least on every second leg (that separates the athletes out of sight say for a meaningful time)
c) drop back by 20 sec or so before punching on the 3rd consequitive control together.

Whether this is considered as unacceptable penalty for the athlete who is most likely to benefit from being caught up, or protection for the Clean Athlete - that is a matter of core principles.

Currently, the IOF protects the Clean Athlete when forced by WADA, and protects the likely cheaters when it can turn a blind eye on events. It does not feel good, does it?
Jul 30, 2021 3:42 PM # 
This reminds me of a situation a few years ago at US Champs. I made a small error on 1st control and was caught by someone who started shortly after me. He then proceeded to follow me for the remainder of the course and then sprinted ahead on the road leading to the last control before the finish. I ended up 4th in my age group only a few seconds behind him and just out of the medals. From the above logic I should have either a) out-run him, which was not possible since he was the faster runner on pure speed, b) taken a different route choice, which was not possible since he was following me, or c) stopped and insisted that he take the lead? What if he stopped also and refused?
Jul 30, 2021 3:49 PM # 
I would say that is a very unlikely situation in elite. IOF rules are for elite competitions. The objective should be to find a solution for WOC / WorldCup and not for masters or youth.
Jul 30, 2021 4:08 PM # 
The only unlikely part of it is that at the time I didn't know who had started first and had actually assumed that it was him and that I had caught up to him. Otherwise the rest of it seems entirely plausible and, other than a) out-running someone, which is less likely to happen in the true elites, I can't see someone realistically being DSQ for failing to self-penalize using b) or c).
Jul 30, 2021 4:19 PM # 
I would say that is a very unlikely situation in elite.
EOC 2008 Men's Long Final?
(Although, to be fair, that seems to have been a case of both runners benefiting from running together, rather than the more blatant following that fossil describes.)
Jul 30, 2021 4:20 PM # 
A few years back in intricate Portuguese terrain, where my relatively strong o-capabilities helped me over my relatively slow legs, I was followed for about 5 controls. At some point I noticed a control to my right which I clearly identified was not mine. Nonetheless I swerved towards it, punched and immediately ran away in the direction of my real control. I didn't see my follower again until after I finished, so my tactic managed to "shake him off".
Jul 30, 2021 4:22 PM # 
"You cannot be penalized for being caught up.

Yet there has been a suggestion from someone on this thread that the caught runner should retire from the race at that point!"

That would be me. @rob can you describe what would be negative effect here? In swimming or athletics you are disqualified if you start to quickly (second attempt) or if you step outside of a track which happened to our athlete at indoor championships. Maybe with such rule too many athletes would be disqulified in a race but the rule could be developed. To prevent following you don't have many options. Maybe not disqulification but add penalty time based on the number of legs you are following. I'm sure that athlete would try to go different route in case each leg add 30'' or so penalty time to his time.
Jul 30, 2021 6:17 PM # 
In an event like WOC, I think you could know if someone started before you or after you by looking at the bib number.

If a top competitor makes an early mistake and allows himself to be caught, I guess there's no possibility of a comeback, because the runner who caught him can just follow and say it was the top competitor who was doing the following. Maybe it's unlikely for first place, but that could happen somewhere in the top 10.

(I'm not an elite orienteer, I never really was even my the standards of my own country, which has rarely had anyone who could compete at the top levels internationally anyway. So this isn't a discussion that it even makes much sense for me to be participating in. I'll leave it to the interested parties.)
Jul 30, 2021 7:16 PM # 
"You cannot be penalized for being caught up."

Maybe you don't call it a penalty, but you get disadvantaged for being caught up in pretty much every sport, in lap races you take the slower line/move over to let faster people by, in cycle time trialling you drop back so as not to draft etc. etc. The slower athlete is always inconvenienced.

Organisers can't tell who is doing the following (e.g. fossil's example above: the follower sprints ahead to punch first and the leader get the penalty?). What we do know is who started first (i.e. who should be inconvenienced), and who punched together (say, within 10sec). That's enough to force the early starter to drop back and let the leader go ahead. In fact, if they punch, wait thirty seconds, then punch again, the 30sec waiting time can be deducted from their total - so there's no time penalty.

A 1 min time penalty for running two consecutive legs together without taking the stop-go option seems reasonable.
Jul 30, 2021 7:56 PM # 
One might think 30 sec rest gives enough fresh O2 to boost you back to visual contact pretty soon, especially when you see the direction and leader has no any reason try to pull away. Also getting the advantage of 30 sec rest every now and then for example just because someone who started after you accidentally skipped a control/loop does not sound entirely fair.

(And response to graeme's comment in an other thread,no, 1 min delay is not same as having 1 min shouter interval. Not even close.)
Jul 30, 2021 8:06 PM # 
Matthias had no idea how race was developing. He could not take the lead because Kasper might have been having close race with Daniel, so he might drag Kasper ahead of his team mate. It wasn't the case, they were two fastest but hey could not have fair race because they were together. With better format they their trajectories would differ every now and then and they could have raced. Kasper was faster in the beginning, it would have had cool to see what would have happened, maybe Matthias would have been faster at the end part of the course. Good format would solve this issue too, by making runners have different trajectories. Penalizing or hindering main rival just because next was faster in the beginning is not that great solution, at least not from spectators point of view.

IMHO we should expect competitors simply trying to do their best and nothing more. Race format should make sure pack running and following doesn't play too big part.
Jul 30, 2021 8:07 PM # 
I assume this 30'' is only techological issue. Lets say 3 min interval start time and you punch 3.03 behind. You get a red light on your SI and after 30'' you get a green light and before you go you need to punch the control for the second time. After 3 stops because also 6 and 9 min guy overtake you you are free to run the remaining of the course.
Jul 30, 2021 8:38 PM # 
I once used the same method as jSh to break up a pack, in which I had the distinct sense that I was its only member who was actually reading the map, in a mass-start World Cup race (knowing that I would come last in a pack sprint). Got me a 60th rather than a 68th...

One of the issues here is that in an interval start race, while the most obvious advantage of a pack is to those who have been caught, in most circumstances there is little or no benefit for the lead runner to try to break away, either.
Jul 30, 2021 9:14 PM # 
Jon X:
Jul 30, 2021 9:51 PM # 
@Jagge: from the spectators' point of view butterflies and phi loops are the worst because they make it near impossible to compare runners in the loops.

In return, butterflies and phi loops force suboptimal course setting, especially in long distance, but also in middle.

The good news is that they do little against runners travelling together for considerable length of the course.

A perfect lose-lose-lose situation, but they look very sophisticated, indeed :-)
Jul 30, 2021 10:25 PM # 
@Jagge, Maybe 30 sec is too short, if so its easy to make it longer.
Jul 30, 2021 10:47 PM # 
@Blair: yes, in most cases the lead runner also benefits from trailers. That should serve as an additional argument to force a breakup of the train in order to protect the Clean Athlete.
Jul 31, 2021 1:09 AM # 
Graeme I thought your earlier comment: The problem is with the format.
The trap is to try to blame the athletes
. was a very good observation.

And yet here you are now getting behind a suggestion that is essentially to do with penalising (blaming) the athletes A 1 min time penalty for running two consecutive legs together without taking the stop-go option seems reasonable.

All the suggestions like these are fundamentally flawed. As JJ points out - how do you decide who is to be penalised? As Fossil's example shows, just because you started first doesn't necessarily mean you are the "follower".

Stalas, you say that fossil's example is unlikely. Unlikely sure, but still possible and it is the nightmare scenario - imagine if Fosser had made a mistake on the first control and then dragged the person who started 3 min after him to a gold medal.

The only suggestion for splitting up groups that I think has any potential is Jagge's idea of dead running loops.

Jagge you say you tested that system at a national event once? Can you post a map showing how it was done?
Jul 31, 2021 1:29 AM # 
BOM wrote It is interesting how the rules change in response to what is perceived as a problem

Why would anyone think that a minor change in the wording of the rules (eg adding or deleting 'shall') will have any real effect on the overall problem. If you think that poor setting is the problem then just adding 'are expected to' to the rule is not going to have any effect at all. To address course setting problems you need a major education campaign aimed at course setters and, even more importantly, SEA's.

The only thing that such minor rule changes will effect is how a jury might rule when faced with protest. But they do nothing to lessen the occurrence of following etc in the first place. it is attacking the problem from the wrong end.

We can't expect to eliminate entirely the problem of following. We can expect to lessen the problem but that will take combined action across various fields: better course setting, better controlling, longer start intervals, modified start orders, changes in the culture that views following as a legitimate tactic, some technological changes etc etc

There are no magic bullet, quick fixes to this.
Jul 31, 2021 5:26 AM # 
grame I think you are right, 30 sec is too short. I think somethinkg like 40-50 sec gap sec is needed to make it work, it should be long enough to make it disadvantage for the leader to wait and also obvious for "follower" that sprinting is not necessarily the best option. 50 sec gap means 1 min wait if that is rest. I guess we could make studies to figure how much 1 min stop actually slows runner down compared to 1 sec stop.

But if we start stopping people, I think we should stop everyone to make it fair and clear, not just those who got together with later starter. For example one stop format, if you were not stopped by control N (at 75% of the course) you will have to stop there. Like this everyone would get to make similar stop. So here Matthias would have been stopped for being together with Kasper, so he could have chased Kasper with independent navigation all the way to the control N where Kasper stops and Matthias would gets 1 min gap if he, so there he has 25% of the course left to increase gap to over 3 min to take gold. Now Kasper would have reaaon to not let Matthias catch him after the Matthias' stop.

But one stop only would mean Mathias would propably have run together with Magne for both having to wait 1 min for Kasper. Two stop format might solve that, but that's plenty of stops plenty to manage. That's why I think simple bib based distribution of delays ("dead running" method) would be better, everyone knows in advance where it happens and how, and that would allow making it streamered running instead of rest stops because there would need to be just controls with such delay. but maybe runners prefer rest stops, I don't know really. We already have plenty of taped running sections (start, finish, mid race arena visit) so I thought some more to solve pack running would not be that bad.

Such one rest stop method might work better for middle if 2 x start interval is too much to get to medal. And what it comes to long and adding rest, then we could also make it race of 3..4 stages. 3 min interval, 2 min interval re-start after each stage with minimum of 5 min rest for everyone, start order same as the order runners finished previous stage.
Jul 31, 2021 8:18 AM # 
@Robplow: I think the nightmare reality is that Daniel and Emil did not get a medal. Any solution that corrects that is better than turning our head and avoiding action because there is no 100% solution.

The mindset change required is to stop worrying about who is following in a group and who is leading. Typically they both benefit from running together, the question is whether the benefit is 80/20 or 50/50. But both of them are gaining over the Clean Athlete.

To protect the Clean Athlete (Daniel and Emil), the train has to be broken up. The one who stands better (started later) must have the advantage. The one who started earlier must either take a different route choice or drop back.

Yes, there will be a >potential< element of some unfairness. Compare it with the >certain< major unfairness against the Clean Athlete.
Jul 31, 2021 8:51 AM # 
The one who started earlier must either take a different route choice or drop back.
I can't see how Matthias giving up or theatrically running some legs slightly differently would make gold fight between Kasper and Matthias any better.
Jul 31, 2021 8:54 AM # 
Let's not forget the advantage gained by seeing someone leave a control 100m in front of you! Surely these people should be given a time penalty too.
Jul 31, 2021 8:56 AM # 
The gold fight was between Kasper and Daniel.

It is not theatrical if the rules force a trailer to drop back or take a different route choice. Now it would be a "stupid" decision. Like it would have been a "stupid" decision for the DDR swimmers not to take the pill.
Jul 31, 2021 9:30 AM # 
Mathias - middle winner - was at same pace with Daniel (Matthias still on his own route choice and after doing independent navigation mostly) on the way to 6. Simply taking away his right to fight for a good result does not sound perfect solution to this problem.

As i see it requirement of athletes doing independent navigation is removed from rules,. It is now just part of the description of the format, something course plannng should aim to, not something athletes should or should not do. From this perspective I find calling some athletes "not Clean" a bit disturbing.
Jul 31, 2021 9:58 AM # 
I don't think it is necessarily the course setter who's at fault or their responsibility to set better courses. There could be ten different routes between every control but a runner may just decide to follow regardless.
Jul 31, 2021 10:19 AM # 
@Jagge: Matthias himself admitted openly that he was following Kasper, i.e. he was breaking the rules, but was more interested in the result than in competing alone.

You are right, removing the "independent" clause would make a more honest approach by the IOF. There should be no shame in waiting for one's locomotive at the start flag.

I fully understand that athletes and their supporters find the "not Clean" comment disturbing. Lance Armstrong was probably the one most bothered by that.
Jul 31, 2021 10:28 AM # 
@rowplow. I'm not talking about a penalty for being caught. The stop-go idea is you have to wait for 30 sec/1 min, whatever, then repunch. That time, measured by the SI, is deducted from your final time.

The advantage over jagge's method is that it breaks groups immediately they form.

Stopping everyone is fairer in terms of the stops (and therefore easy to get accepted), but will still lead to quite long sections where people could run together. In fact, it will lead to more following, just not the very long sections which we're most worried about. Unbalanced loops do the same thing, the problem with those is constraints on the planning.
Jul 31, 2021 10:46 AM # 
Everybody admited that we have a problem but to get a draft paper, IOF need to break down the options and clearly say what changes are on the table and how acceptable are. From todays perspective, media, TV requirements, spectators, etc. we stand here:

Longer start interval: 6 mins (not acceptable; mostly TV requirement)
Arena passage (not acceptable; TV, spectators)
Best 15 athletes at the end of the start list (not acceptable; TV, spectators)
Mixing with the women/men start list (not acceptable; TV)
Less athletes in the final (not acceptable; TOP nations and also lesser nations)
A & B final (not acceptable; TV, organizers)
Qualification race (not acceptable; TOP athletes)
Qualification system before WOC (not acceptable; ?)
Dead running & penalty time methods (not acceptable; ?)
Disqualification of overtaken athlete (not acceptable: ?)

So what we already have is a perfect format where nobody is willing to sacrifice nothing, especialy IOF to have a fair race.

If we could just start with the reverse order so best start first and others follow.... wait TOP athletes want tracks in the woods (not acceptable)!

Lets see how next IOF race bring more disapointed athletes.
Jul 31, 2021 10:55 AM # 
@graeme: I agree that the solution has to be one that breaks up groups soon after wherever they form, not just at one or two points along the course (as butterflies and phi loops do).

I believe that a minimum time gap (unless a different route choice can be proven by GPS) is a better solution because that gives the athlete the option to slow down / look at the map before the control.
Jul 31, 2021 12:09 PM # 
OK Graeme, your idea seems to work OK if there is a group of just 2 - but what if there 3, 4, 5 . . . You are going have a lot of people standing around controls for a long time.That is going to look really stupid on a TV broadcast. Should we provide tea and biscuits at each control for those with long waits? Chair perhaps? What if it is cold/raining - do they need shelter and blankets?

And how is all this actually going to function at each control - the control unit will need pretty sophisticated software to handle all possible scenarios - and a screen that informs runners if they have to wait, and for how long, and when they can start again. Or you would need very well trained officials (probably more than 1) at every control to handle these waits. It is bound to get confusing and there are bound to be mistakes - a recipe for disaster.

Also, even in the case of just 2 runners, one runner has to wait a minute - effectively reducing the time interval to the person starting after them. Isn't it possible that these forced waits at controls will actually produce more packs?

Also, a relatively minor point, but having one or more people waiting at control sites gives away the control site giving incoming runners an advantage.

Also, I am thinking if I was leading someone I might think to myself that it would be quite nice to have a 1 minute wait that is not part of my final time: I get a breather and time to study the rest of the course. Why give that advantage to my follower? So I let him punch first and I take the rest and if I then catch him up again that is all good as it still benefits me to have company. Then you might get both runners trying to trick the other into punching first, or who knows what other stupid gamesmanship might be an unintended consequence of this system. Again, that sort of stuff is going to look really stupid on TV.

also, - TV again - it will get really confusing trying to follow who is winning and by how much once you have several runners all carrying different amounts of time to be subtracted off their final times. Sure you can develop software to help with that but even so.

Also, I am sure I could come up with more potential problems if I had time - but that's enough for now.
Jul 31, 2021 12:18 PM # 
Of course I agree that the current situation is all too often unfair and needs to be addressed. Why else would be I be contributing so much to this thread?

Where I disagree with you is in your assertion that these methods being suggested improve the fairness. I have to yet to see any suggestion regarding following runners being stopped or penalised or made to retire or whatever, that are not even more unfair than the current situation. And while they might seem Ok on paper I see major practical issues in implementing them. See my previous post for an example of what I mean.

These "cures" are far worse than the disease.

But OK, if you think you can come up with some system that will work that would be great. I would need to see simulations based on real events and practical demonstrations at several events before I was convinced to try it at a major international race.
Jul 31, 2021 12:37 PM # 
I can recall many discussions on the topic of how to reduce following and have heard many variations on these ideas of penalising runners or having them wait at controls etc.

One of the first times I recall hearing such a scheme suggested was at WOC2005 when there was debate about the Swedish team's protest about the group that ran with Gold medalist Khramov.

I can't remember the details of the scheme but I do remember thinking it was both very unfair and totally impractical. I also remember who it was suggested the scheme - someone who went onto become SEA at several WOCs - much to your displeasure I seem to recall
Jul 31, 2021 1:00 PM # 
@Robplow: I highly appreciate this discussion too. These are difficult questions with polarising views, but really important to our sport.

One of the pivotal questions is whether the evaluation of fairness (the objective function) is constructed using only the athletes who are running together (current IOF approach), or also several Clean Athletes who are running alone.

A timely separation of the train has the following impact on fairness:

Clean athletes: massive improvement (multiplied)
Athlete who started later: no change
Athlete who was caught: >some< loss of fairness in >some< cases.

This looks like a huge improvement to me, considering that several clean athletes gain, and only one athlete who might(!) lose a bit.
Jul 31, 2021 1:06 PM # 
kofols mentioned the one simple and crazy idea that would actually make a huge difference: reverse the start list so that the top-ranked runners start first. Then the field tends to spread instead of tending to compress and bunch up. Someone who is caught is motivated to try and shake the person who caught him. It means you have the completely strange situation where the first person to finish is (likely) the winner -- what sort of strange race has that happen? The best runners want the advantage of the earlier runners having made tracks for them? I have no sympathy, why should they be the ones who get that advantage? I'm sure there would be some kind of "sandbagging" where some of the elites try to depress their rankings in order to get later start times, but that's probably less of a problem than we seem to have now.

But that solution also lowers the artificial suspense of the media product. It's more about TV than it is about finding the best athlete, I suppose.
Jul 31, 2021 1:22 PM # 
Yes tv wants to see previous runners get their times beaten. They don't want the fastest person coming in first and have everyone else come in slower. Where's the suspense?
Jul 31, 2021 1:25 PM # 
Stalas if only the system you are advocating were able to deliver what you say it will. I don't see it.

Explain to me how this system works for packs of 3 or 4 or more. Explain how it will work at the controls - what sort of punch units, software, officials will you need?

Prove to me that this system would not in fact create more packs.
Jul 31, 2021 1:26 PM # 
Do we need a quick fix to the problem? Just put 15 best in the middle of the start list with one runner in between from lesser nation so the best are 6 min apart. This would not require too much of testing to put in real scenario.
Jul 31, 2021 1:43 PM # 
Some will probably object that then one of these "lesser nation" people will then follow to the best to a podium finish. But the truth is that there are very few people in the entire world who can keep up following the likes of Fosser or Alexandersson through the forest.
Jul 31, 2021 1:46 PM # 
Robplow, before getting into nitty-gritty, do we agree that a relatively quick breakup of trains improves overall fairness, even if some unfairness may be introduced on some occasions?
Jul 31, 2021 1:53 PM # 
No it only improves fairness if the effects are not even worse. And it has to actully be possble to do it. I don't see how this idea can actually be implemented - time to adress the nitty gritty.
Jul 31, 2021 2:04 PM # 
Let's not forget that there was very little pack formation at this years WOC. There was plenty of route choices that spread the runners. The analysis at World of O shows basically two groups. Unfortunately one contained all medalists and the other #4 and 9 (if I remember correctly).
The main problem this year seems to be that Kasper Fosser is extremely good. I checked the men's ong distanse at WOC, EOC and JWOC for 2015-2019 and being 6 minutes behind the winner would not give you any medal. 3 minutes behind the winner would have gotten you a silver medal in the two JWOCs Kasper won.
In 4 of the 12 races you could get a medal by following (assuming 3 minutes start intervall) an analysis done some years ago for WOC arrived at 4 out of 10.
A 7-8 minute start intervall is required to prevent packs influencing the results among the top 10 (and 83% of elite runners respondign were happy if the 10 ten was unaffected by packs, out of these 50% would be satisfied by top 6 and 20% did no bother).

Long route choices are one of the most efficient ways of preventing pack running. It worked well this year, but unfortunately the groups that formed might have influenced the results heavily.
Jul 31, 2021 2:16 PM # 
Sorry Rob, have to come back to this:

If a train is broken up quickly, the impact on fairness:
Clean athletes: massive improvement (multiplied)
The athlete who started later: no change
The athlete who ​was caught: >some< loss of fairness in >some< cases.

In detail:

Many Clean Athletes who run along benefit from
- the trailer not being pulled along
- the locomotive losing the extra pair of eyes

The athlete who started later does not lose fairness
(though loses some benefits from running together with an extra pair of eyes)

The athlete who started earlier and got caught and the two runs two legs close to each other:
- 80% of the cases mainly hangs on. Being separated from the train is no unfairness.
- 20% of the cases there might be some unfairness introduced by forcing the athlete to make a different route choice or drop back by 20sec on the third consecutive control (I do not fancy stopping athletes)

Where do you see the worse effect on the overall competition?
Jul 31, 2021 2:28 PM # 
To the question of a qucik break-up of groups. It may sound like a good idea, but when has a groups or pack formed?

Together with Jan Kocbach and Henning Spjelkavik I did an extensive work on different separating methods. I think the evaluation of the phi-loops is an important in-put:
"WC 2005 UK
10 groups formed and split again before the phi-loop. Five additional groups formed and were together into the phi-loop. Two of those continued after the phi-loop. Of the three that split one reformed after three controls. One new group also formed through the phi-loop. Two groups formed after the phi-loop and one of them split again. The phi-loop was no more effective than the rest of the course.

Six groups formed and split again before the phi-loop. Eight additional groups formed and were together into the phi-loop. Four of those continued after the phi-loop. Of the four that split two reformed after two controls. One new group also formed through the phi-loop. 11 groups formed after the phi-loop and seven of them split again. The phi-loop was no more effective than the rest of the course.

JWOC 2008
An interesting analysis has been performed where the runners have been split into two groups regarded as of “equal level” (e.g. E-groups) of “different level” (e.g. H-groups) dependent on their time before the phi-loop. If runners at equal level have the same loop they split up in 60% of the cases, if they have different loops they split up in 70% of the cases. In other words for runners at the same level the loop does hardly matter. For most senior championships there are qualification heats and runners coming together should thus be of nearly equal level. (Interestingly runners at the same level in the JWOC analysis will probably also include some groups were both are weak and should benefit from being together.)

If runners at different level have the same loop they split up in 35% of the cases, if they have different loops they split up in 71% of the cases. As we have pointed out most spreading methods are designed to split a weak and a good orienteer still we see that this fail in 1/3 to ¼ of the cases.

Our analysis show that 11 groups form and split again before the phi-loop. There are 10 groups that enter the phi-loop and five of those are split (one reforms again one control later), there are also two new groups that form. After the phi-loop another 12 groups form and four of these split before the finish."

The conclusion is quite clear many runners are together for some controls, but most often split again. To force runners to wait as soon as two runners are together might thus be overkill and - as several have pointed out- complicate the event.
Jul 31, 2021 2:33 PM # 
To the idea of mixing strong and weaker runners:
"In some World class events there has been large groups forming. WOC 1993, 1997 and 2005, WC Switzerland 1996 and Sweden 2002 comes to mind. Is it possible to find a common theme?

We have found that groups mostly form when a (weaker) runner makes a mistake (near the control) and is overtaken by a stronger runner. We would thus not expect any system that mixes weaker runners (which are more likely to make mistakes) with stronger runners (that make less mistakes) to prevent bunching. The World Cup races in Switzerland and Sweden were mass-start races so here the weaker and stronger runners obviously were mixed.

WOC 1993 (USA) was without qualification races. This implies that every nation had the right to one runner in each start group. This also means that there were a few weaker orienteers started in the last start group as also the weaker nations could put one of their runners in this group. Maybe more important for the formation of large groups it also meant that the stronger nations had one of their runners in an early start group with many weaker runners. It has also been examples of races with qualification heats where one of the pre-race favourites makes a relatively large mistake in the qualification, and then acts as a broom sweeping through the field in the final. The women’s middle distance in WOC 2007 is one recent example. In the races mentioned above we would expect many of the groups to be H-groups.

WOC 1997 (Norway) took place in extremely detailed and difficult terrain, with rather rough ground. The start interval was reduced to 2 minutes for the first time. There were qualification races over similar terrain, using the same map. It is difficult to measure the difficulty by objective means, but the qualification races seem simpler than the finals. For this championship there were also only two qualification heats with 30 from each heat to the final. The course for the final had many controls (24 for the men) and many short legs.

WOC 2005 had the qualification race in a relatively simple terrain, while the organisers (like all other organisers) spared the most demanding terrain for the final. A simpler orienteering for the qualification race meant that some weaker runners could obtain a good start position in the finals. The final map contained many short legs in the beginning of the course.

In WOC 2001 (Finland) and 2004 (Sweden) the finals took part in detailed terrains, but without many groups forming. Here the qualification races were in equally difficult terrain, thus the weaker runners were already sorted out. In WOC 2006 (Denmark) and WOC 2007 (Ukraine) both the qualifications and (long) finals were in fairly simple terrain. Again there were few groups forming.

It should also been noted that NOC (Nordic Open Orienteering Championships) which uses a fairly strict ranking system for the start list have had no problem with large groups forming."

But simpler courses might not be waht we want for the high level events.
Jul 31, 2021 2:40 PM # 
@jj true. Also probability of such scenario decrese rapidly from what we are seeing today where running capability of the best athletes are +/-5% or less. Not perfect but way better than watching how SWE NOR SUI FIN RUS pull eachother to the podium. These athletes from lesser nations in between are also more prone to make mistakes so it is less likely that they would be cought on the best route choice, more likely they would be overtaken without notice. To make it clear who are lesser nations is also important. Lets say nations in third tier of nations and athletes must be on WRE list lower than 10 best athletes from these nations. How much risk is left on the table that these runners are still able to follow and get a medal?
Jul 31, 2021 3:11 PM # 
@BOM - Did you look into how many trains would have formed if athletes caught (either after a mistake or by just being slower) would have continued at their cruising speed?

My recollection is that the lionshare of the trains move faster than individual athletes caught. Hence, delaying/stopping the athlete who keeps trailing the locomotive is not unfairness, but evening out the playing field by clawing back the likely gain received.

The ultimate ideal objective would be that athletes keep competing as close to their "do it yourself" performance as possible. It can never be achieved without loooong start intervals, but breaking up trains soon after they are formed is a step towards that.
Jul 31, 2021 4:44 PM # 
Both our and earlier data indicate a 6% increase in speed for groups. Assuming 5 mins/km (=300 sec/km) this would mean gaining 18 secs/km. With a 3 min (180 sec) start intevall the pack would need 10 km to catch up the runner in front. As the pack also forms after some controls it is extremely unlikely to happen and influence the results.

From the old work:
"It seems to be a general feature that more and more groups form over the first few controls. Often the groups have already formed after 3-4 controls. Usually they have formed after 7-8 controls. After that the number of runners in the groups stays more or less constant. In a few cases there is a slight increase over the whole course. It seems like whatever pattern we have approximately 40% of the runners are together at the end of the course. The average for all cases where there are reasonably stable
groups are 40.5% (+/-6%), if we exclude one extremely low value we get 41.4% (+/-4.5%) In other words when there is a gradual build up over the whole course it is because fewer runners get together early (several of these cases are sprint races, or middle distance races).

The groups mostly consist of two runners and they hardly increase in size over the course. This is consistent with a pair forming when the runner in front makes a mistake. In most World Championships these has thus probably been E-groups.The distance from the pair to the runner in front of them is then two start intervals. For a middle distance (and long distance at WOC) this would mean four minutes. With a boost factor of 6% (taking into account both increased running speed and less mistakes) four minutes with a running speed of 5 min/k would mean about 13 km of running to catch the runner in front. Thus it is very unlikely that a pair will catch the runner in front unless that runner makes a big mistake. Two events with few groups forming was WOC 2006 and WOC 2007, in both cases there was relatively simple orienteering. Thus the number of mistakes was probably low, and few groups would form.

The groups mostly consist of two runners (and as described above there are good reasons for only small groups forming). The trains sometimes seen (WOC 1997 and 2005 being most prominent), thus seems to be an anomaly due to poor course planning. Could the short start interval required at the WOCs be a contributing reason? WOC 1997 had technically difficult terrain, while WOC 2005 had technically difficult terrain at the beginning. Swedish Championships Middle 2007 (D21 final) gives an exceptionally large number of runners in groups (60% towards the end). Middle distance should be technically demanding, and Swedish terrain is demanding so this does seem to fit the pattern. This will be discussed more in chapter 7.

5.6 Boost factor
A good indication of the boost factor is needed for quantitative analysis. How much faster does a runner proceed in the forest when there are other runners nearby?

There are two different boost factors. One is the gain in 6-7% by being together due to higher running speed and reducing the amount of errors. This is the boost factor that influences the results (Obviously .the influence on the results does not only depend on the boost, but also for how long this boost applies; e.g. for how long the runners are together.)
The other is the boost in running speed by being together. It is this smaller boost that is available when we want separate the runners. To get some indication of this we looked at the result for WOC 2005. The organisers have published data for the running speed of the runners on each leg relative to the average of the three best on that leg. Using the best half of these they obtain a cruising speed for each runner.

Pekka Inkeri has produced progressographs that show which runner has been together during the race. Combining these two we could find the relative speed of the runners on legs where they have been alone and on legs where they have been together with others. It is thus easy to find how much faster the runners are when they are together compared to when they are alone, e.g. the boost factor.

We have progressographs for the Men’s and Women’s Long Distance as well as the Women’s Middle Distance. Thus these races were analysed further. We used the best half of the leg times when they are together and the best half of the leg times when they are separate to calculate the boost factor. Runners with just one or two times in each group were excluded from the analysis (typically these runner have made a large mistake in the beginning and been caught up on the first few controls). Using the best half of the results excludes legs where large mistakes are done, and gives a reasonable indication of the speed the runner can sustain over time. It might be argued that fewer mistakes are one of the main effects of runners being together and that all legs should be included to take this into account. But clearly for the top end of the result list (which are of most interest) the runners are so good, and mistakes so infrequent that relying on the mistakes to separate runners does not work.

For these calculations we are basically applying the method of Tomita. It can be argued that the split times we use are themselves influenced by co-working, and thus boosted. This will mean that the average of the three best is somewhat boosted and that the abilities at individual runners are thus underestimated. However, as we are comparing individual runners with themselves to find the boost factor this should not influence the result. The hypothetical best time will be approximately 3% in all cases. (As the hypothetical error free time for the best runner always involves split from runners that has not done any mistake, it doesn’t matter whether this is due to their own ability or help from others for our calculations. It is thus only the extra boost of the running speed that is of concern.)

However, at the top level the runners make few mistakes. It is thus unlikely that the runners make any mistakes during a relatively short separating method with few controls. The method should thus be able to separate runners with their normal running speed. The table shows the per cent points boost factor found for WOC 2005.

Men-long Women-Long Women-Middle
Average 2.6 0.85 2.5
Standard deviation 5.4 5.9 11.3
Median 2.7 0.80 -0.5
Table 3. The boost in speed by being together (the effect of less mistakes is not included in these numbers).

The results shows a nearly Gaussian (normal) distribution, but with a large deviation. For the Long races the average and median are close, confirming that we have a fairly Gaussian distribution. Quite a large part of the runners show negative boost factors, indicating that they loose time together with others.

It could be expected that weaker runners gain more when they can benefit from the help of others. When we plot the boost factor as a function of the result we see relatively flat lines. The best linear fit gives an increase of 0.05%/place for men, and 0.10%/place for women long distance. If only the 30 first runners are used for the analysis, we find -0.13%/place for men and 0.02%/place for women. In other words there is no systematic difference between the best and the second best. However, there is a confounding of the results as the qualification races ensures that the runners start among others of about the same ability.

For the Men’s Long distance race we also calculated the boost factor with all legs included. This gave an average of 6.3% with a standard deviation of 11.3 and a median of 5.9%. These results are in very good agreement with Ackland which used a boost factor of 6% to mimic the results of that race. For runners catching up with each other the effect of mistakes is much larger and in this case probably all leg results are relevant. The same analysis for the men’s middle distance final during WOC 2007 gave a slightly higher boost factor of 7.4% when all legs were included, and 4.8% for the best half. The women’s middle final gave extremely large boost factors of 13.1% for all legs, and 11.3% for the best half of the legs. "
Jul 31, 2021 6:17 PM # 
"where some of the elites try to depress their rankings in order to get later start times"

I assume this situation can also be fixed. Just say 2 best from each top 8 nations frim first tier must start among first 15 or 16. And others should be seperated even more with 2 runners in second wave. So the suspence is still here.
Jul 31, 2021 6:20 PM # 
Wathever, we can try if TV find interest.
Jul 31, 2021 7:02 PM # 
@BOM: Thanks! This is really interesting. Takes some time to digest it. :-)
Do you have a link for the full study?

One question that would be interesting is the reference point for the ~6% boost factor. I would expect that to be smaller for the locomotive and higher for the trailers.

Yet it suggests that delaying the trailer by 20sec after 1km running together is not unfair, but just reestablishes a level playing field.
Aug 1, 2021 2:09 AM # 
Stalas, of course I think it would be fairer if packs could be broken up quickly. I just don't think what you are proposing is practical and that it would introduce other, even worse, sources of unfairness.

You say your idea would make it 80% fairer with perhaps 20% negative effects from other sources of unfairness. I certainly do not agree with that. Those numbers are totally meaningless - you just made them up. Repeating them back to me again and again doesn't make them somehow any more real.

I have given you a plenty of good reasons why I think there are major problems (problems that I think far outweigh any theoretical benefit) with what you are proposing. Why can't you address them?

Lets start with a very simple example: 4 runners arrive at a control together?.

1. How do you determine which one is the leader (locomotive)

2. Does that mean the other 3 have to stop and wait.?

3. Do they all stop for one minute or 1 2 and 3 minutes depending on their order in the pack?

4. how is that order determined?

5. Are the waiters allowed to look at their maps and plan ahead while waiting?

6. Is there a designated waiting area at every control - what would that look like?

7. What happens if more runners arrive while these guys are waiting?

8. How is all of this managed: do you have an official with an iPad doing it or is there some new super SI module that handles it all?

These sorts of questions are pretty fundamental to whether or not the system you are proposing is at all practical.

They would need to be addressed for your system to have any chance. And, "80% 20%" is not a particularly useful answer.
Aug 1, 2021 7:21 AM # 
2021 WOC long course had plenty of route choice option. Often it is quite different and no much choices. for example here where I live, much hills and going pretty much straight is the usually the only sensible option. Route choices are more micro type of choices, running a line 20m left on dry land instead of marsh. But typically within visual range or out of sight so short time it doesn't spread. Expecting to take different route choice means you would have to take a poor road option or something and loose minutes. Whatever system you design, it must work for all types of terrains and handle case like 4 runners coming to a control together, someone skipping control (DQ later) and coming to control together with the runner who is leading in reality (without knowing it), and "wait methods" handling that runner catching that slower DQ runner all over again after every wait delay.

Also when an slow competitor starts early he gets passed by all the time, also at controls. If he happens to be passed at control by someone who started a hour later, will he have to stand there? It is not fair if there is tricky control and someone is standing there revealing it to some lucky runners? Should we make it fair by using more visible flags and hanging them so high someone standing would not make any difference? Or would it be better to indicate couple of easier controls where that waiting happens to avoid that unfairness factor?

All controls are manned, easy to ban map studying / rehydrating etc just like in dead running loop method, that is not a problem. Some getting rest breaks and some not is a problem.

Daniel ran most of the long together with Miika K, from 6 to finish.
Aug 1, 2021 7:50 AM # 
Or would it be better to indicate couple of easier controls where that waiting happens to avoid that unfairness factor?

If you do that then you lose what is supposed to be the great advantage of this scheme: the ability to break up groups soon after they form, which relies on being able to make runners 'stop and go' at ALL controls.
Aug 1, 2021 9:14 AM # 
Robplow, you start to attribute me things I never said or agree with. No worries, this format is not the best for discussion, I am sure, I also mix up things in this flow and misattribute ideas.

Below in two separate posts I will try to outline first the principles, and then an example. I am sure various contributors will find various aspects for improvement :-) Then we'll see if things could be improved.

A key point that should be emphasised again and again:

There is no perfectly fair solution against following and cooperation, but overall fairness could be greatly improved if we consider also the fairness towards the Clean Athlete.

The biggest obstacle in finding a solution now is the deeply flawed evaluation that considers only the competitors who are running together, but not the Clean Athletes (several of them) who run alone.
Aug 1, 2021 9:41 AM # 
6% increase in speed for groups. Assuming 5 mins/km (=300 sec/km) this would mean gaining 18 secs/km

"dead running" separates ~40 sec twice or 80..90 sec once.. So to stay together pack is delayed almost that much below optimal speed. That equals pack gain of 4...5 km. So even if group does not get split it gives the lone runner fairer changes against groups.

Seeing other runners and running together for a while and not getting distracted by it is part of O and one of the challenges. I am not sure splitting / waiting immediately when atlhetes sees each other is necessary or even a good thing, worth making somebody stand and reveal controls. Or tempt to blindly follow a faster runner passing by knowing there is rest stop at the very next control if you stay behind all the way there,

packs running doesn't need to removed altogether, it is enough to make it less decisive aspect of the race. And cure should not make things equally worse as the the current problem, like making some medal candidates start early in soft grassy terrain. not a good idea. Thinking of long grass of WOC 2025 terrains.
Aug 1, 2021 9:56 AM # 
For those interested
Aug 1, 2021 9:59 AM # 
Objective: find a practical implementation of IOF Rule 1.2
“In individual interval start races the competitors navigate and run through the terrain independently.”

Below are the suggested principles and basic rules for major elite IOF events.
(youth, masters, local events, etc are not considered)

Health warning: these are major deviations from current IOF practice. They are more aligned to WADA principles on protecting Clean Athletes.

Proposed principles

A) Athletes who run together on a course benefit from it at the detriment of the Clean Athletes who run alone, thus breaking up trains improves overall fairness and insures that Rule 1.2 is observed.

(see the research referenced by BOM above)

B) The priority of the protection of the athletes' interest shall be as follows:
1) the athletes who run alone (Clean Athletes)
2) the athlete who started later (i.e. stands better)
3) the athletes who were caught

(this does not mean that the interest of the caught athletes is completely ignored, but it reverses the priorities of the current practice that puts the interest of the caught athlete to the top)

C) There shall be no compromise required on course setting

(no phi loops, butterflies, etc - especially Long course setting could be compromised by loops)

D) The competition shall be spectator friendly

(no phi loops, butterflies, etc - it shall be easy to follow standing of athletes in the competition)

E) There shall be an objective test to determine when athletes are NOT running together.

(this is similar to the "A" sample in AD terminology - if an athlete is below the threshold of Adverse Analytical Finding, no questions asked)

F) There shall be a way for athletes to prove that they were NOT running together even if they failed the objective test.

(this is similar to the "B" sample in AD terminology)

G) At the end of the day, it is a judgement call if athletes run together (follow or cooperate) or just happen to run in each others' vicinity. There is no perfect solution that excludes unfairness to all parties, but in the evaluation overall fairness to ALL parties shall be considered along with preset priorities and criteria.

Proposed new rules

On an individual start competition, two athletes are deemed to run together if there are 3 consecutive controls where the athlete who started earlier punched at the control within the time interval of [-10;+20] i.e. 10 seconds ahead and 20 seconds behind the athlete who started later.

(this is the "A" sample)

If two athletes are deemed to run together, the athlete who started earlier shall be disqualified unless it can be ascertained using their GPS track that at least between 2 of the 3 controls the two athletes were out of contact with each other for at least 30 seconds.

(this is the "B" sample)

The exact time intervals may change by terrain. It is assumed that typically +20 sec is a typical gap when the following athlete is losing contact. -10 sec is required to ensure that no micro-sprints to controls will save the following athlete.
Aug 1, 2021 10:33 AM # 
At WOC 2003 there was much talk and writing about Vroni being too familiar with the relay terrain.
At WOC 2005 there was a lot of talk about runners collaborating. I told the Swedish coach that if he taught there had been any breach of the rules he should make an official complaint. Otherwise he was accepting what had happened and should keep quiet afterwards. I would certainly not have the 2003 grumbling another time. A complaint was made and dismissed by the organisers. An appeal was made and the jury found that no wrongdoing had happened.

I believe more complaints and also appeals should be made. This will teach the runners where the limits of acceptable behaviour is. I also think it will act as an deterrent. Nobody will want to be the one that is often at the receiving end of a complaint.

As several has shown in this debate it is almost impossible to make a technical system that covers any eventuality, and is TV friendly, and does not require extensive manpower from the organisers.
Aug 1, 2021 10:43 AM # 
Stalas, you continually make the analogy with anti doping. Such analogies can be useful but you have to be careful not to take analogies too far and forget what are fundamental differences.

When an athlete dopes they make a conscious decision to do so (OK, some argue they took a substance inadvertently but that is relatively rare).

In orienteering it is extremely rare that any one plans to follow. They don't plan to get caught up - it just happens to them, and when it does happen the logical thing to do is to stay with the person who caught them up.

This is a very important difference between doping and following. You simply cannot blame an athlete for being caught up. Which is what your proposed rules do.

graeme said it best:

The problem is with the format.
The trap is to try to blame the athletes.

And you still just refuse to address any of the points I have made about the impracticalities of what you are proposing.
Aug 1, 2021 10:45 AM # 
In practice, most athletes run their own races with no change, because either they are running alone, or they are dropped/separated within 3 controls.

After the readout of each athlete, the IT system checks the 3 consecutive control rule. If there is an adverse finding, it puts the athlete on a provisional DQ list.

The organiser contacts the athlete and the coach informing them of the adverse finding. They can request a GPS check. The organiser decides based on the GPS track (or any other info available), if they are convinced that the athletes potentially running together were separated or not within the two legs flagged by the IT system.

Obviously, athletes will try to avoid being flagged, so there will be only a limited number of cases where the GPS check will be necessary.

If the athlete is unhappy with the organiser's decision, the usual compalinat-protest process applies.
Aug 1, 2021 10:57 AM # 
Robplow, I am afraid we may be watching a different movie :-)

My experience is that in most cases the athletes in the forest make a conscious decision to follow, as it was done by MK and MD on Long or by WL in 2017 by their own admission.

They might not have planned it (some do in the lower ranks), but they are very likely to grab the opportunity of running together when it arises.

The core question remains: do we want to protect the Clean Athlete or abolish the "runs and navigates independently" principle.
Aug 1, 2021 10:59 AM # 
I believe more complaints and also appeals should be made. This will teach the runners where the limits of acceptable behavior is. I also think it will act as an deterrent. Nobody will want to be the one that is often at the receiving end of a complaint.

I tend to agree with that but I can't help that think others do not. As I have mentioned earlier it seems to me that the changes to the wording to rule 1.2 have had the opposite effect - making it much harder to get a protest based on 1.2 upheld. As far as I am aware, there has been no protest about following since WOC 2009 in Hungary.

Also I never knew you had sort of encouraged the 2005 protest (well, not encouraged but said 'put up or shut up'). I always thought that protest was strange as there was no Swedish athlete who was really closely affected - I mean the best placed Swede was 14th or 15th I think. I guess if the protest was upheld that might have changed to a top 10 result, but it is not like medals were involved.
Aug 1, 2021 11:02 AM # 
Robplow, the "very simple" example of 4 runners arriving at the control at the same time has a very simple answer:

They continue on the course :-)

All the questions you listed are irrelevant. We are not concerned about athletes arriving to a control at the same time. We are concerned about trains forming for multiple legs.
Aug 1, 2021 11:11 AM # 
Stalas, I am pretty sure neither MK or MD planned to get caught up and then to just follow. If you were going to do that you would wait just after the start.

It is NOT their fault they got caught up. You cannot disqualify them for that.

The focus has to be on reducing as much as possible the occurrence of athletes being caught up, not penalizing those who got caught up. Before they got caught up they were 'Clean Athletes'. If they had not been caught up they would have continued to be 'Clean Athletes'. What you are proposing is to replace one injustice with an even greater injustice.

And still you are not addressing the issues I have raised! Perhaps because you know that if you acknowledge them your whole scheme will collapse into a heap of impracticality?.
Aug 1, 2021 11:14 AM # 
All the questions you listed are irrelevant. We are not concerned about athletes arriving to a control at the same time. We are concerned about trains forming for multiple legs.

Oh come on! Your plan is exactly to make runners stop at a control and wait for one minute.
Aug 1, 2021 11:23 AM # 
IOF 1.2 is an definition and describes the difference between individual starts and mass start (defined in 1.3).

The relevant §§ are found under section 26 Fair Play
Aug 1, 2021 11:29 AM # 
Practical implementation using WOC 2021 Long as an illustration:



The description of the thought processes below may look daunting at first, but still much more simple than trying to describe the thought process of route choice and execution :-)

MK, MD train

CP 3: MK is getting close to MD, but clearly behind, no worries for MD.

CP 4: MK is together with MD, they punch together (MD 4 sec ahead)
Halfway towards CP 5 it is clear that they are running together on the same route choice.

MK knows that he started later, so he can run his own race.
MD knows that he started earlier (i.e. MK has advantage), and that punching CP 5 and 6 together will mean DQ. But he has several choices
a) build a 10 sec gap before CP 5 or before CP 6;
b) if that is not feasible, consider an alternative route choice from CP 5 to CP 6, depending the choice of MK, one that is expected to be separate (5-6 clearly offers that)
c) keep running together with MK close to CP 6, but not punching the control until there is a 20 sec gap
(either running with MK till the control and then wait there before punching, or gradually dropping back, letting MK run out of sight - he probably gained that 20 sec already running together with MK on legs 5 and 6, so this is not a "punishment" just releasing the time gained running with MK)

HFK, MK, MD train

A complication arises towards CP 5: HFK shows up in the front. MK and MD speed up to catch up from behind. They are running together 3 ways:

- HFK knows that he started later, so he can run his own race.

- MK knows that he started earlier, and that if he punches CP 5-6 together with HFK then he'll face choices going to CP 7.

- MD knows that he started earlier, and that if he punches 5-6 together with HFK then he'll face choices going to CP 7, but he also knows that if he punches together with MK on CP 5, then he'll have to face a choice vs MK going to CP 6.

Detailed choices as above.


Yes, this may "force" MD to make choices that are "losing" a few seconds in addition to 360 seconds he already lost. But those seconds were most likely already gained on legs 5 and 6 running together with HFK and MK.

There is no change in fairness to HFK.
There is massive gain in fairness to DH and ES.
There is marginal loss/gain in fairness to MK and MD.
Aug 1, 2021 11:31 AM # 
Robplow, would you mind reading what I write before making false statements like
"Your plan is exactly to make runners stop at a control and wait for one minute."

That would help our discussion tremendously.
Aug 1, 2021 11:42 AM # 
Robplow, I think it is getting a bit saturated for today :-) Time for a bike ride.

Just to reiterate:
- there should be no penalty for being caught,
- there should be no mandatory stop,
- there should be no issues about arriving at the control at the same time.

The focus should be on breaking up trains that run over multiple legs. Trains help all athletes involved, especially ones who consciously decide to get on the train like MK, MD or WL in 2017.

The focus should be on establishing fairness to athletes who are disadvantaged by trains forming, and who are ignored by current IOF practice, like DH and ES, or for that matter MD in 2017!
Aug 1, 2021 11:56 AM # 
@stalas Some obvious flaws with your scheme.
1) MD is first at CP5 (but less than 10 secs before) and takes his preferred route choice. MK takes the same and forces the disqualification of MD.
2) MK figures out he earns a lot by being in a pack and drops back a few seconds to allow a big enough gap for both to continue.
3) MK has skipped a control (did not happen in 2021, but known to happen in several WOCs and WCs). MD follows your proposal and gets his run interupted and spoiled by a runner that is out of the competition.
Aug 1, 2021 12:13 PM # 
Stalas Ok perhaps I have mistakenly conflated your ideas with those of Graeme and a few others prescribing mandatory waiting at controls. I apologise for that.

Now to address your "Proposed New Rules"

On an individual start competition, two athletes are deemed to run together if there are 3 consecutive controls where the athlete who started earlier punched at the control within the time interval of [-10;+20] i.e. 10 seconds ahead and 20 seconds behind the athlete who started later.

Nice idea in theory - but impractical and easily gamed.

What if there are 3 controls in 500m or 3 controls in 4km?
How is the GPS evaluated

What if the earlier starter made a mistake and was since then the leader. The follower only has to punch 3 control within 20sec and their leader is (unknown to them) disqualified. If Mk had done that he would got Gold - an even gretaer injustice than the sliver he got.

If two athletes are deemed to run together, the athlete who started earlier shall be disqualified unless it can be ascertained using their GPS track that at least between 2 of the 3 controls the two athletes were out of contact with each other for at least 30 seconds.

How is this gps track evaluated? Is it done in real time and is the a decision sent out to the course and the offending runner pulled from the course?

Edit: I see you addressed this - the analysis would be post race. But still the above point is relevant - 3 controls could be 500m or 4 km!

But above all I repeat the point I have made several times - your proposed rules punish a runner for getting caught To me that is a potentially bigger injustice than what it is trying to solve.

The focus has to be on improving course setting, start intervals etc etc so as to reduce the incidence of grouping.
Aug 1, 2021 12:21 PM # 
IOF 1.2 is an definition and describes the difference between individual starts and mass start (defined in 1.3).

The relevant §§ are found under section 26 Fair Play

Maybe the insiders in the IOF rules comittee see it that way. Most are probably not aware of the subtle difference. And it isn't clear - after all rule 1.2 used be in section 26.

So if you if wanted to protest about following what rule in 26 would you use? 26.2?

That says:
Except in the case of an accident, seeking to obtain or obtaining assistance from other runners or providing assistance to other competitors during a competition is forbidden. It is the duty of all competitors to help injured runners.

I think it would be very hard to get a protest upheld for following with that wording - which would probably explain why that has never happened (as far as I am aware).

And with that wording - if you take the WOC 2021 example - you could even see Fosser disqualified as he provided assistance to MK MD.
Aug 1, 2021 12:38 PM # 
The subtle difference might be discovered by the heading 1. Definitions
Aug 1, 2021 12:41 PM # 
Please, can we (without pointing fingers) remove the clean/unclean distinction from this discussion.

I think it is the clear consensus of posters and observers that finding fault with the athletes is both unnecessary and highly impractical.
The doping/cheating analogy just doesn't apply.

I have hopes that this discussion is productive and might lead to an improved situation, but only if we focus on the most commonly accepted goals and factors.
Aug 1, 2021 1:01 PM # 
@BOM - It is not perfect, as the current system is far being perfect, but it is not as bad as it may look at first glance:

1) No forced disqualification. MD is aware at CP 5 that he could not get away from MK. He has a choice: keeps trying to build the 10 sec gap from MK. If he is unsuccessful, he has to drop back 20 seconds (in essence, give up the time likely gained by running together two legs per the 6% gain you referred to).

Yes, MK gets the advantage for starting later, like one athlete has the advantage in triathlon no drafting, or in fencing, or in several other sports.

Still, DH and ES (and MD 2017) is not disadvantaged by trains.

2) Yes, that type of gaming is possible, but much more destractive than running together now. If MK feels that he is good on the day, he is unlikely to give 10sec advantage repeatedly with the need to catch up and potentially giving a chance to MD to run away.

3) Could be also DQ-ed for mispunching, or going OOB, or even for AD offences later. But MDs run has already benefited a lot from running together with MK per your analysis. It is not spoilt, just taken back more-or-less to the point where it was without running together for 2 legs.
Aug 1, 2021 1:09 PM # 
The subtle difference might be discovered by the heading 1. Definitions

Yes but somewhere above that heading is the heading IOF Rules. 1.2 is still a rule that can be broken. If it is not meant to be used that way then the wording perhaps should be changed.

Again - how would you use section 26 to protest following?
Aug 1, 2021 1:24 PM # 
@Robplow Yes, the different leg lengths are not considered. That is a trade-off for getting an automatic evaluation of the "A" sample and making it easy to understand within race conditions.

Something got mixed up in your assessment: There is no forced DQ by an athlete under normal race conditions, especially not by the one who got caught. The one who started later always keeps the advantage.

If an earlier starter made a mistake and became a leader, then he can try to build a 10 (and not 20) sec advantage at every 3rd control. If he cannot do that, he has to drop back and allow the later starter to make a different route choice - or give up 20 sec, time that he probably already gained by running together.

Could there be potential injustice? Yes, it is not excluded.

How many examples can you show where on WOC top 20 or 30 the better athlete made a mistake, got caught, but led the train without cooperation to a good result?

Would separating that train might have resulted in a bigger injustice than depriving DH, ES and MD-2017 of their medals?
Aug 1, 2021 1:34 PM # 
@EricW: The crux of matter is the difference in attitude towards athletes who consciously decide during a competition to sit on a train or to cooperate (and thus consciously break the rules) vs. the attitude towards the athletes who run alone.

How would you differentiate?
Are they both innocent victims of circumstances?

The one who ran alone and the one who had "no voice" but to watch the back of a better athlete for 70 minutes?
Aug 1, 2021 1:41 PM # 
Stalas - your proposal is remarkably similar to the one I first heard proposed in 2005, except with the addition of some current technology eg the GPS tracks.

There was a reason the idea didn't catch on in 2005 - it is unworkable, riddled with potential for gaming the system and hence getting people unjustly disqualified (which IS worse than some people getting better results than they should have), etc etc. I could go on, but I am sure no matter what I say it will make no difference to your belief that your proposal is the answer to everything.

So I will just wish good luck with it. If and when you get it tried out at a major event and prove me wrong then I will certainly admit the error of my ways. I will not be holding my breath.
Aug 1, 2021 1:53 PM # 
Robplow - no, my proposal is not the answer to everything. Far from it.

But it tries to highlight how overall fairness can be improved using modern technology and giving athletes a choice as long as we take seriously that athletes should navigate independently.

In the end, it is a political decision whether we as a sport and the IOF care more about the fairness towards MK, MD-2021 or WL - who decided to benefit from not running alone; or towards DH, ES and MD-2017 who were running their own competition.

Thanks for your comments, they helped to shape my views.
Aug 1, 2021 2:14 PM # 
Here are some better suggestions:

1. WOC long must be run with a complete media and spectator blackout. Only one person can be World Champion, so no other placings are recognised. IOF announces only the winner, and maybe weeks later split times are published and only orienteeering nerds will be interested to look at them. In this situation, runners such as Kyburz and Daehli realise that their only chance of recognition is to regain the time they lost, and they will therefore choose different routes to Fosser - maybe even leave the paths and ORIENTEER!
2. During the WOC Long final no runner may spend more than 30% of the race on paths/roads or they will be DQ.
3. WOC Long final consists of one leg taking 100 minutes across wild terrain with many different route choices. 5 minute start interval.
4. Variation on (2) - winner must have least amount of time on paths AND least amount of time in contact with other runners.
Aug 1, 2021 2:29 PM # 
Thanks for your comments, they helped to shape my views

Given the proposal you came up with, I feel I must very sincerely apologize for that.
Aug 1, 2021 3:13 PM # 
@robplow I thnk you have a good point:
Except in the case of an accident, seeking to obtain or obtaining assistance from other runners or providing assistance to other competitors during a competition is forbidden. It is the duty of all competitors to help injured runners." Following another runner could possibly be regarded as seeking to obtain assistance. But the older "SHALL navigate independently" was probably better in many respects, I can´t see why not both §§ are in the rules. But of course independent navigation might also lead to two runners coming up with the same solution, and a has been pointed out by Jagge in some terrains there are only one realistic solution.
Aug 1, 2021 3:34 PM # 
@robplow I was thinking the same, I have read that 15 years ago. It sounded like horrible gaming platform.

stalas is trying to solve a wrong problem. He is trying to identify and punishing bad guys who follow. The correct problem is how to secure the right to race normally for competitors who has been caught by a later starter when there is no enough speed difference to separate them. Before seeing MK as a victim of the current format it is pretty fruitless to keep re-inventing all over again these split time based punishing methods.
Aug 1, 2021 4:53 PM # 
"The crux of matter is the difference in attitude towards athletes who consciously decide during a competition to sit on a train or to cooperate (and thus consciously break the rules) vs. the attitude towards the athletes who run alone."

No, this is absolutely not the crux of the matter, and the consensus here seems to completely agree that this is "the trap"

For the sake of seeking a better solution, please move on.
There are still plenty of other points that can be contributed.
Aug 1, 2021 5:06 PM # 
Jagge, it seems that I could not explain you the matter.

It is not about how to "identify and punishing bad guys who follow"

Just the opposite! It is about how to find the good guys, who do not follow or cooperate (the ones who do not punch together for 3 consecutive controls) :-)

It is about how to protect the athlete who competes independently according to the Rules. Part of that is to be more concerned about fairness to the ones who are running alone, than fairness to the ones who are likely to follow or cooperate.

Please tell me,
why are you explicitly concerned about potential unfairness against athletes who consciously decided to break the rule of independent navigation when the opportunity has arisen (MK, MD-2021, WL);
but do not appear to be concerned about very real unfairness against the athletes who competed according to the rules? (DH, ES, MD-2017)
Aug 1, 2021 5:17 PM # 
How was bike ride @stalas?

Definition should be improved but IOF can't do just in the name of fairness. The jury should judge based on clear competition rules. Also whole jury process should be part of the game and fairness. I proposed an idea and @gg responded but @blair was not interested to present how outsiders from IOF circle can put an idea to formal life.

Why reverse order is such a big deal that is seen as a bad idea? In skiing TV follows first 30 best and then TV broadcast is shut down. From time to time happens that some outsider or because of weather change win somobody with high starting number but nobody is sad because they miss the winner. TV friendly format is based on 1h of show of the best athletes. Why something similar is not acceptable in orienteering? And gives an option to spread the field withouth too much of additional rules and post race evaluation which is very TV unfriendly.
Aug 1, 2021 5:19 PM # 
because system/format is the reason why this happens, current system puts often athletes to the position with no viable escape.
Aug 1, 2021 5:24 PM # 
Kofols, in alpine skiing course gets much slower for erosion. This is why best ranked start first and second round is opposite order for only 30 best or so. It is often difficult to get good time if you win the first round, but lead is often enough. Then on course is so much slower later starters will not make top times. In O it is the opposite, course gets faster and faster, especially in soft terrain with long grass.

(watched today two live TV orienteering races, live O is great for TV if it's not sprint)
Aug 1, 2021 5:37 PM # 
I usually been amusing myself doing quick sketch of "dead running" version of men's long course after each woc. Here is 2021 version

At first I tried to put second taped section after #20 up by the track, but maybe there is no room for it, so I placed it after #17. Maybe a bit early, but might do the trick.

I guess one coul place them directly to #10 and #17 without adding any controls for it, depends can there be built two equal enough taped sections.
Aug 1, 2021 5:40 PM # 
Jagge, that brings another very interesting parallel with AD (sorry, EricW).

Until there was no systemic testing, no clearly set thresholds, and the athletes were not made ultimately responsible for doping (even at the expense of potential unfairness), in cycling, swimming, weightlifting etc. doping was part of the system and athletes were not in the position of viable escape.

Then came WADA...
Is the AD process 100% fair? No, it is not.
Is it much fairer today than it was 30-40 years ago? Yes, it is.

Putting the ultimate responsibility on the athlete (and giving them clear rules, unlike today), is the key to change. In return, that protects also the athlete who wants to compete fairly: as mentioned earlier, today an athlete losing a medal for not following could get serious grief from coaches and managers. That's where athletes are not in the position of viable escape.
Aug 1, 2021 5:55 PM # 
I don't find them parallel. Followers does not plan to follow and prepare to follow before the race. Weight lifters does not refuse to take doping but then when liftiing in olympics an other weight lifter comes and blocks the left hand and so dopers quickly takes pills to get power to lift the weight with his right hand only.
Aug 1, 2021 6:08 PM # 
When the opportunity arises, you have to follow, because you expect everybody else to use the same (principally unlawful) method when the opportunity arises for them.

Exactly the philosophy and self-excuse of dopers.
Aug 1, 2021 11:16 PM # 
In recent times I have seen some major changes in what people regard as fair and reasonable. Even to the point of government apologies for its actions towards some groups. This does not mean that every "whistleblower" is right, but some of those once regarded as activists on the fringe of public opinion, are now seen as pioneers.

I have seen enough changes in my own views to know that they do change over time in response to many influences. And that will continue. Keep up the debate.
Aug 1, 2021 11:23 PM # 
You can't test a follower before the competition and determine that he is a follower.
Aug 1, 2021 11:29 PM # 
You should all take up Rogaining where you naturally plan different routes and packs don't form :D
Aug 2, 2021 12:48 AM # 
My understanding of rogaining is that every team is a pack of at least two. :D
Aug 2, 2021 3:03 AM # 
Good point - so to solve Orienteerings pack running issue, they should fold and merge with the IRF. Everyone is happy. Also solves the Sprint O is not real O issue.

Not that I have a Hidden agenda to take over the world.
Aug 2, 2021 7:18 AM # 
If course setting does not split well enough, we simply need just provide viable exit from the situation for those who end up behind later starter same speed. They are not cheaters planning to follow, so they will take it, no referees needed. For example giving possibility for athlete to stop for 70 sec (60 sec subtracted from time) if athlete thinks there can be pack for "too long" and someone from the same pack already decided to stop there. Athletes own decission to stop or not and choose where to stop. I am pretty sure no one would take the shame and still stick following excessive time or all the way to the finish.

There is solutions, questions is just which is the best or most acceptable. And the problem is decades passing by and IOF doing nothng to this issue.
Aug 2, 2021 11:32 AM # 
Yes, I agree that there has to be a political decision passed by the IOF Council to do something. Because there is no perfect solution, they will avoid making a decision unless they feel being pressured.

FIFA was also resisting video refereeing and goal decision technology for a long while until the pressure was just too much for them. Are those perfect solutions? No, they are not (ask a Dane after Euro21), but they improved the fairness of the game.

Volunteer stopping could be an option indeed (details can be discussed).
But it will work only if there is a clear criterion set (Adverse Finding threshold), and then action is taken against the ones who fail the test.
Aug 2, 2021 11:42 AM # 
"This is why best ranked start first and second round is opposite order for only 30 best or so."

You probably mixed things here. In skiing (slalom, giant slalom) they had reverse order in second run. So the best have better course in the first run and lesser athletes in the second run. This is good because the best athletes need to show their superiority also on a bad course to win. I would expect that in orienteering we could do the same. If you are the best you need to show the best performance also on virgin course and lesser athletes get some help with the tracks from previous runners. How much of an advantage this is in reality on long? 1 min? This is more of a problem for course setting and this should be addressed; to cut the grass or something but I don't see this as a real argument for not trying to set a start list in reverse order.
Aug 2, 2021 11:52 AM # 
Modified proposal would be:
1-10 / athletes from second tier of nations
11 / first athlete from first tier
12 / first athletes from third tier
13 / second athlete from first tier

and so on on 3 min interval start time.

You can't eliminate following but it would be harder then today to get a medal with following.
Aug 2, 2021 1:41 PM # 
They reverse just 30 best, even when there is 70 starters. Lesser athletes (not top 30) will have poor conditions both rounds.

I understand you point andI agree start list can make it less likely to someone follow to the podium. I don't like this solution mostly because WOC should not be just for podium, there should be fair race outside podium too, like getting to top 10 or 20. This race is the main goal for many athletes, currently following plays even bigger role at these positions that at podium positions. A good late start position should be earned, not great if some getting there by luck of being a fill between favourites when rivals at same level has to start early without locomotives. This is why I feel implementing start list scheme like this is sort of looking away and pretending there is no problem.
Aug 2, 2021 2:42 PM # 
"there should be fair race outside podium"
Yes also important but after all we need first to try to solve the most important issue. The whole debate and bad taste is not because someone gets 30 place instead of 36 place. Like rob said: with top results you can get also recognition, sponsorship, etc. It would be interesting to here Top athletes what they think.
Aug 2, 2021 3:06 PM # 
"A good late start position should be earned"

I think this is a wrong assumption. The only thing IOF should be concerned is to make more or less same level of playing field for best athletes. So if they start first or last this should be no difference. I'm just thinking that with reverse order you have better option to give them same (more equal) oportunity to have a fair race for the top places. If IOF insists on holding late starts only for the best I can't see any real option to eliminate following unless there is different start interval (6 min) for best 15. But this would be impractical of time window for TV so late starts & 6 min for best doesn't solve the problem for athletes & TV. Every WOC we see that this solution with late starts is the main unffair rule.
Aug 2, 2021 4:51 PM # 
I think tracks is also an overrated issue for WOC. It is really a very small race, with only about 150 people total counting both men and women. If there is route choice, then that reduces the number more in any particular place. This isn't at all like Jukola (the other extreme), where there are thousands of people who have run the course in the past few hours. It depends very much on the terrain, of course, but in many places, it would be difficult to tell that this small number of people had run by.
Aug 2, 2021 6:13 PM # 
JJ, you should know better. Even a few people crossing an overgrown by grass bottom-land ahead of you can make a difference. I recall we once had to mow the path and route the leg to prevent this handicap for first starters.
Aug 2, 2021 6:54 PM