USATF Rule 144 Assistance to Athletes

1. Competition under these Rules consists of self-propelled motion without assistance, except as defined by the Rules of Competition of a specific event discipline.

NOTE 1: For athletes with disabilities entering open competitions, refer to the “USATF Policy and Procedures for Evaluation of Requests for Accommodations Pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act” .

NOTE 2: For rules covering disabled-only competitions see the SPECIAL SECTION which follows ILLUSTRATIONS in this rule book. 2020 USATF Competition Rules – 51

Except as provided in road races (Rule 241) and in long distance walking events (Rule 232), during the progress of an event a competitor who has received any assistance whatsoever may be disqualified by the Referee. “Assistance” is the conveying of advice, information or direct help to a competitor by any means, including a technical device.
The following shall be considered examples of assistance:
(a) Pacing in running or walking events by persons not participating in the event, by competitors lapped or about to be lapped, or by any kind of technical device other than those permitted under Rule 144.4(e) and Rule 144.4(h). See Rule 250 through Rule 252 for Cross Country, Mountain and Trail Running.

(b) The visible possession or use by athletes of video, audio, or communications devices in the competition area. The Games Committee for an LDR event may allow the use of portable listening devices not capable of receiving communication; however, those competing in championships for awards, medals, or prize money may not use such devices. See Rule 250 through Rule 252 for Cross Country, Mountain and Trail Running.

(c) The use of any technology or appliance that provides the user with an unfair advantage which would not have been obtainable using equipment complying with the Rules.

NOTE: Shoes complying with Rule 143 are permitted.

(d) The use of any mechanical aid, unless the competitor can establish on the balance of probabilities that the use of such an aid would not provide an overall competitive advantage over a competitor not using such aid.

(e) Provision of advice or other support by any official of the competition not related to, required or allowed by the specific role of the official in the competition at the time. This includes items such as coaching advice, providing take-off point information in a jumping event, and time or distance gaps in a race. Specifically excluded from providing assistance is indicating the take-off point for a failure in the horizontal jumps, time announcements allowed in Rule 163.15.

(f) Receiving physical support from another (other than from another competitor in the event helping to recover to a standing position) that assists in making forward progress in the race.

The following shall not be considered assistance:
(a) Verbal or other communication, without the use of any technical device, from an individual who is not in the competition area to a competitor who is in the competition area. In order to facilitate this communication and not to disturb the staging of the competition, it is recommended that a place in the stands, close to the immediate site of each field event, be reserved for the competitors’ coaches. NOTE: Coaches complying otherwise with Rule 241.2 may communicate with their competitors.

(b) Physiotherapy and/or medical treatment necessary to enable an athlete to participate, or continue participation once in the competition area, may be provided by members of the official medical staff appointed by the Games Committee and clearly identified as such. Accredited team medical personnel approved by the Meet Doctor specifically for this purpose may be permitted in 2020 USATF Competition Rules – 52 the medical treatment area outside the competition area. In neither case shall the intervention delay the conduct of the competition or a competitor’s trial in the designated order. Such attendance or assistance by any other person, whether immediately before competition once an athlete has left the Clerking area, or during the competition, is assistance under Rule 144.6.

(c) Medical personnel authorized by the Games Committee or Referee to do so may perform a hands-on medical examination during the progress of an event for any competitor who appears in distress. If in their opinion it is in the best interest of the competitor’s health and welfare, they may remove the competitor from the competition.

(d) Receiving physical support from an official or other person designated by the Games Committee to recover to a standing position or to access medical assistance.

(e) Any kind of personal safeguard (i.e., bandage, tape, belt, support, wrist cooler, breathing aid, etc.) for medical purposes. The Referee shall have the authority to verify any case should that be desired.

(f) Pace setting by an officially designated person entered in an event for that purpose is permitted, provided such pacesetters start in the event.

(g) Personally carrying or wearing articles of equipment such as wrist chronometers, heart rate monitors, speed distance monitors, stride sensors or similar devices during a race provided that such device cannot be used to communicate with any other person.

(h) Electronic lights or similar appliance indicating progressive times during a race, including a relevant record.

(i) Viewing by athletes competing in field events, of images of previous trial(s), recorded on their behalf by persons not placed in the competition area. See Rule 144.3(b). The viewing device or images taken from it shall not be taken into the competition area.

NOTE: For Youth Athletics exception see Rule 302.5(s).

(j) Hats, gloves, shoes and other items of clothing provided to competitors at official stations.

In a track event, any competitor competing to lose or to coach another competitor shall forfeit the right to be in the competition and shall be disqualified.
Any athlete giving or receiving assistance during any event other than permitted in Rule 144.4 must be cautioned by the Referee and warned that for any repetition, he or she will be disqualified from that event. If such disqualification occurs, any performance accomplished up to that time in the same event session shall not be considered valid. Performances accomplished in any previous event session, such as a qualifying round, shall stand.
NOTE 1: For Youth Athletics exception see Rule 302.5(j).

NOTE 2: Information conveyed to an athlete by an official is not considered assistance provided such information is made available to all athletes. 2020 USATF Competition Rules – 53

NOTE 3: In cases under Rule 144.3(a), disqualifications may be made without warning.

No attendant or competitor who is not actually taking part in the competition shall accompany any competitor on the mark or in the competition, nor shall any competitor be allowed, without the permission of the Referee or Judges, to receive assistance or refreshment from anyone during the progress of the competition, except as provided by Rules 144.3(b), 145.5, 232, or 241.
A competitor may, at any time, carry water or refreshment by hand or attached to his/her body provided it was carried from the start or collected or received at an official station.
(a) In races of 5000 Meters through 10,000 Meters, the meet organizers may furnish competitors with water and sponging stations on the track and in off-track events.

(b) In Track Events longer than 10,000m, water shall be provided; sponging stations and refreshments may be provided. Refreshments may be provided by either the Games Committee or the athlete and shall be placed so that they are easily accessible to, or may be put by authorized persons into the hands of the athletes. Refreshments provided by the athletes shall be kept under the supervision of officials designated by the Games Committee from the time that the refreshments are lodged by the athletes or their representatives. See Rules 232 and 241.

(c) A competitor who receives or collects refreshment or water from a place other than the official stations, except where provided for medical reasons from or under the direction of race officials, or takes the refreshment of another competitor, should, for a first such offense, be warned by the Referee normally by showing a yellow card. For a second offense, the Referee shall disqualify the competitor, normally by showing a red card. The competitor shall then immediately leave the course. NOTE: A competitor may receive from or pass to another competitor refreshment, water or sponges provided it was carried from the start or collected or received at an official station. However any continuous support from a competitor to one or more others in such a way may be regarded as unfair assistance and warnings and/or disqualifications as outlined above may be applied.


Leaving Track or Course:
(a) No competitor, after voluntarily leaving the track or course, except in compliance with Rule 170.16, shall be allowed to rejoin a race either for the purpose of gaining a place or to pace or to assist another competitor. The competitor shall be recorded as not finishing the event. A competitor attempting to re-enter the race shall be disqualified.


Credit for Records:
(a) No record shall be acceptable unless it is made in a scratch running competition, or a handicap or scratch competition in a field event, open to two or more clubs, schools, colleges, or other organizations, which has been fixed and advertised before the day of competition, and which is included in the printed program together with the names of the entrants for the events. A record may be accepted in a handicap race, provided the performance is set in a race in which all competitors start from the same line,

(2) no one has started before the competitor claiming the record and

(3) the race is timed in accordance with Rule 165.4. At least two competitors, and in relays at least two teams, shall have participated in the event in which the record purportedly was established. In field events, a handicap competition may be combined with the scratch competition. In Men’s and Women’s Track and Field, Long Distance Running, Race Walking and Masters Track and Field, no record shall be acceptable unless it was made in an event that had been sanctioned by USATF, a member organization of USATF or another member Federation of World Athletics by competitors eligible to compete under World Athletics Rules. NOTE: See Rule 320.8 for Masters Track and Field conditions.