This past week I wrote an assertive email to the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) president. I was disgusted by what seemed to me, to be a very bad judging call at an Australian Junior Nationals powerlifting meet. To my surprise, the IPF president wrote me back. I decided to write this article after our conversation. I will say that the IPF president did not see a clear reason why the second attempt deadlift should have been be red lighted but, stated that he could not know what the side judges might have seen.
You can see the first and second lift here (ignore the illuminati inserts). The lifter, Kevin, explained that the reason the judges gave him for disqualifying the second lift was due to a “lack of control” on the way down.
Now, Powerlifting Australia LTD is not run by the IPF but they do operate in cooperation with the IPF and exclusively follow the IPF technical rule book. So, my email to the IPF president was slightly misplaced and I acknowledge that. Now, getting into the nitty gritty, what I want to communicate to you (the lifter of coach) is how to get your lifts passed, as it applies to powerlifting but, also weightlifting and strongman.
Understand the Judging Conditions
At almost every single powerlifting or strongman meet, the organizer does not secure enough judges. Typically these judges are sitting from early morning to early evening judging lifts. Many times they are getting paid very little or are there as volunteers. This is not the fault of the judges, it’s the vault of the organizers, or it’s just a result of the situation: not enough money is being brought in, to secure the correct number of judges. So by the time a lifter is on his deadlift, the judges have been watching the same three damn lifts all day long, possible for the second or third day in a row, and they are tired. So, what I like to do is personally recognize my judges before a lift. I make eye contact with all of them, and maybe even say a quick word like “you ready?” In strongman, I like to very quickly go over the rules of the event with my judge before the event begins, as it is being set up (not to waste time). I do this to attempt to wake my judge(s) up but also get them personally invested. I want them to KNOW I’m a person (not just another faceless lifter) who cares about this competition, and that I’m counting on them and, I appreciate what they are doing for me. This human connection is important to me and it is also beneficial. If your judge cares about you, even just 10% more than the lifter before you, he is more likely to be on her A-game as he is judging. Also, remember to thank you judges/spotters at the end of a competition, they are working hard for you!
Understand the Rules, All the Rules
If Kevin’s deadlift was considered a “no lift” solely based on the “lack of control” on the decent, then the call was made incorrectly and not within the IPF’s technical rule book. Page 18 of the rule book states, “causes of disqualification of a deadlift.” Rule number seven applies to lowering the bar. It states, “7. Allowing the bar to return to the platform without maintaining control with both hands, i.e.: releasing the bar from the palms of the hand.” Nowhere do the rules state that the deadlift bar cannot bounce as the lifter returns the barbell back to the platform, or that there is a barbell decent speed limit The only stipulation is that the lifter’s hands remain on the barbell. Kevin did this. But, do the judges verbatim know that this is what the rules state? Do they have a copy of the rule book readily available? Does the athlete? Always go to your competition with the rules in hand. Print them out, and bring them with you. If you are competing at a national or international level, this is always a good idea. That way, if you decide to dispute a call, you have the rules to reference and you are not arguing over a judge’s recollection of what he thinks the rules say.
Know the Process of Disputing a Judge’s Call So a judge or two makes what you think is a shit call, what do you do now? In local contest, the answer might be nothing. But, it’s at least worth asking the contest organizer at the rules meeting, before the contest starts. Minimally, you need to video all your lifts/events. You have no chance reversing a bad call without video. At a national or international level, there may be a process in place for when a lifter disputes a call. The IPF has a very structured system in place for such an occurrence. The IPF has this group of three of five people called a “Jury.” The jury must be present at any World and Continental Championships and is appointed to preside over each lifting session; they are basically supposed to be IPF rule book experts. The function of the Jury is to ensure the technical rules are correctly applied. According to Page 30 of the IFP’s rule book:
5. During the competition the Jury may, by a majority vote, replace any referee whose decisions in its opinion, prove him to be incompetent. The referee concerned must have received a warning prior to any action of dismissal. 6. The impartiality of referees cannot be doubted, but a mistake in refereeing can be committed in good faith. In such a case, the referee shall be allowed to give his explanation for making the decision which is the subject of his warning. 7. If a protest is made to the Jury against a referee, then the referee may be informed of the protest. The Jury should not put unnecessary stress on platform referees. 8. If a serious mistake occurs in the refereeing which is contrary to the technical rules, the Jury may take appropriate action to correct the mistake. They may at their discretion, grant the lifter a further attempt. 9. Only in extreme circumstances when there has been an obvious or blatant mistake in the refereeing will the Jury in consultation with the referees, by unanimous jury vote, reverse the decision. Only 2 to 1 referees’ decisions can be considered by the jury 2 to 1 referees’ decisions can be considered by the jury. 10. The members of the Jury will be positioned to ensure an unimpeded view of the competition.
So in the case of Kevin and his (in my opinion) excellent deadlift, the athlete might have decided to put a protest in to the Jury. I am not sure if this happened. I also don’t know if the lifter knew it was an option. But, Kevin’s circumstance could have been anyone’s circumstance. He did say that the situation was confusing, especially since he was told his previous deadlift was disqualified for a different reason. I am unsure if he or his coach made a protest to the Jury. If there was no Jury, then I recommend the lifter report the lack of Jury to the IPF, since the Powerlifting Australia has agreed to play by the IPF rules. The bottom line is, be aware of what actions you should take as a lifter and or coach if you disagree with a judge’s call. Understand who you should talk to or if there is anything that can be done at all. In many cases, you honestly can’t do anything. Recovering from a Bad Call
Bad calls happen. Many competitors or coaches will say that bad calls are part of any competition. It’s another variable that lifters must overcome. This isn’t to say that they should happen but, they do. If you know the rules, have the rules available, and correctly dispute the call, you still might have to swallow that judge’s decision anyway. You cannot allow yourself to feel robbed. You must not allow yourself to feel cheated. You accept what happened and you fucking move on. Let your coach be mad, let the internet shake their fists for you but, as the lifter, ignore the poor call, act like it didn’t happen and leave it behind you. This is the best thing you can do to not allow the poor decision to negatively affect future lifts or events.
Bottom line: acknowledge the judges, bring the rules, know the rules, dispute the call, and move on!
Closing remarks from the IPF president, Gaston Parage, for lifter’s to gain more knowledge about rules/the federation: – Gaston encourages different countries to hire enough judges but, the IPF cannot control exactly where all countries decide to put their money surrounding the contests. He explains that it is the countries responsibility to make sure the lifters have the best conditions possible and continues to work on encouraging this. – Look the IPF webpage for rules: http://www.powerlifting-ipf.com/
– Check out messages from the Presidents Corner where you find additional information on where the IPF is going for future equipped and RAW contests: http://www.powerlifting-ipf.com/federation/presidents-corner.html – There is an IPF app you can find under IPF news for android and iphone, and a fan page on Instagram.
– The IPF has two coach clinics per year where coaches get an international license and can learn a lot.