Gabe (Anderson) Grunewald, a former University of Minnesota athlete who is now a professional runner for Team USA Minnesota, won the U.S. indoor 3,000-meter championship Sunday in Albuquerque, N.M.
Then, hours later, she was disqualified for contact with another runner.
The ensuing firestorm of support from other U.S. runners resulted a controversy, and on Monday, USATF reinstated Grunewald -- a two-time cancer survivor and one of the most popular runners on the U.S. circuit -- to the U.S. title.
Grunewald tweeted (@gg_runs): "Just touched down in MN & thrilled to see news of my reinstatement. I hope this unfortunate situation can be avoided in the future."
Several stories with details of the controversy (note: some contain graphic language) and reports of a confrontation between Grunewald's husband and Nike coach Alberto Salazar can be found here.
The original protest was made by Salazar, who was the coach of the fourth-place runner, Jordan Hasay. From the sounds of the statement, Hasay supported reinstating Grunewald, forcing Salazar to acquiesce.
Here is the official USATF statement:
INDIANAPOLIS – Gabriele Grunewald has been reinstated as the 2014 USA indoor women’s 3,000-meter champion and named to Team USA for the 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships, USATF CEO Max Siegel announced Monday. Grunewald will be joined by Shannon Rowbury in the women’s 3,000m at World Indoors, March 7-9 in Sopot, Poland.
Siegel on Monday spoke with representatives for Grunewald and Jordan Hasay, the two athletes involved in jostling during the women’s 3,000 contested Saturday at the 2014 USA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Albuquerque. Grunewald won the race, followed by Rowbury, Sara Vaughn and Hasay, but she was ultimately disqualified by the Jury of Appeal for clipping Hasay’s stride. The final disqualification was made on the basis of enlarged, digital footage of the legs and feet of both athletes.
Siegel’s conversations included Paul Doyle, Grunewald’s representative, and Alberto Salazar, Hasay’s coach who had filed the initial protest and subsequent appeals. Salazar made clear that Hasay felt withdrawal was the right thing to do, and with the agreement of all parties, Grunewald was reinstated.
“I had productive discussions with both Paul and Alberto,” Siegel said. “Both are passionate people who passionately advocate for their athletes. And both want what is best for the sport and as well and its athletes.
“Our women’s track & field meet officials, who volunteer their time to serve the sport, made a field-of-play decision based on the video evidence they saw,” Siegel said. “They followed the process laid out in our competition rules, with no USATF employee or officer part of the appeal or the decision. We are all looking forward and will address our processes to try to minimize the potential for controversy or misunderstanding in the future.”
“As with all of the competitors who lined up on Saturday, I desperately wanted to make the team to represent the United States at the upcoming World Indoor Track and Field Championships. Since Saturday evening my emotions have ranged from despair to determination to go to Poland and represent my country as best I can. After much thought and consideration, however, I have decided to withdraw my protest as I do not want to make a national team under these circumstances. I wish all members of the USA team going to Poland my best and look forward to continuing to train hard and competing to represent the USA in future World Championship and Olympic Games.” said Hasay.
“I want to thank Max for his leadership in resolving this issue and Jordan for her withdrawal,” Doyle said. “Everyone was in a difficult situation. Jordan is a first-rate athlete and a class act. We appreciate getting this resolved.”
“My intention was what every coach wants - to advocate for my athlete,” Salazar said. “It was a physical race and when I saw the contact and the flag go up, I filed a protest. I appreciate Max’s involvement and wish nothing but the best for Gabe and Shannon in Sopot.”
Here is Team USA Minnesota's release from today:
Team USA Minnesota’s Gabriele Grunewald won the women’s 3000-meter race and Heather Kampf placed third in the women’s 1500 meters at the USATF Indoor Track & Field Championships in Albuquerque Feb. 22-23. As as result of her first place finish, Grunewald has been named to the U.S. team for the IAAF World Indoor Championships that will be held in Sopot, Poland, March 7-9.
Two athletes from each event were selected for Worlds based on finishing place and whether they had the IAAF standard for the distance, which Grunewald had before competing at USA Indoor, an event that was held at altitude. Grunewald’s time was 9:23.15 in the 3000m. Although Grunewald was initially disqualified for an unintended minor contact with another athlete during the race, USA Track & Field reversed its decision two days after the event and reinstated her as the winner.
“Let me say how humbled I am by the support I received from administrators in the sport, the media and especially my fellow athletes,” said Grunewald regarding the DQ and reinstatement. “I am relieved that I can now turn my focus to the task that lies ahead in Sopot. For the first time I get to represent the United States at a major championships and I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity.”
Kampf’s time in the 1500 meters was 4:13.04. She led the race through 1100m, clicking off sub-35-second laps, and said her objective was to ensure a fast pace. Although she was passed by the eventual winner and the second place finisher and found herself in fifth place, she regrouped at the bell lap to take third. Her finishing place was just one spot out of being named to the U.S. team for Worlds.
Also competing at the USA Indoor Championships was Travis Burkstrand, who was running in his first national championship since graduating and becoming a professional distance runner with Team USA Minnesota last fall. Burkstrand competed in the men’s 1500 meter race and finished in 11th place with a time of 3:50.20.
All three athletes are graduates of the University of Minnesota where they competed collegiately. With Grunewald’s win, Team USA Minnesota runners have now achieved 21 National Championships - on the track, roads and in cross country at distances ranging from the 1500 meters up through the marathon.
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