Leonard Korir Turns To US Army Lawyers To Fight World Athletics Olympic Quota Controversy

After placing third at Olympic Trials, Korir was almost certain he'd punched his ticket to Paris...until World Athletics pulled it from under his feet.

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After placing third at the 2024 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, Leonard Korir was almost certain he’d punched his ticket to Paris. After all, despite not having run auto-standard, the Americans had at least one other runner who would claim a third spot via the World Athletics Ranking Road to Paris list.

However, he, along with ten other athletes, was blindsided after the qualification window closed and World Athletics suddenly changed the rules. To broaden the event’s internationality, World Athletics removed all ranking qualification spots and replaced them with universality places.

Now, Korir has threatened to get the U.S. Army involved in the controversy.

Leonard Korir Turns To US Army Lawyers To Fight World Athletics Olympic Quota Controversy 1

Speaking to Wide World of Sports, Korir said he and his coach, Scott Simmons, would be willing to call upon the backing of US Army lawyers.

“My coach and I might use a US Army lawyer to help us so that we can explain to them [World Athletics] how they were supposed to do it,” Korir told WWOS.

“The more we make a lot of noise, the more World Athletics will listen, and maybe they will increase the field … For us, we need to just try everything, just keep working, keep pushing, because we have nothing to lose, and we just need to try. If we don’t win, we can at least say we tried.”

“It’s not our fault. I wish they said there would be no rankings so that we could chase the standard … I was shocked because I thought I was in … It’s so unfair.”

“They should try to make rules and stick to the rules and not change them at the last minute,” Korir said.

Leonard Korir Turns To US Army Lawyers To Fight World Athletics Olympic Quota Controversy 2

Initially, World Athletics stated that 50 percent of the Olympic marathon field would consist of athletes who had run the auto-qualifying times of 2:01:10 and 2:26:50 for men and women, respectively. The remaining 50 percent would come from the World Athletics Ranking.

However, in the men’s field, 70 athletes met the time standard, meaning only 10 athletes would come via the ranking to cap the field at 80.

Korir and his coach have contacted USATF, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, and the International Olympic Committee. They have also attempted to contact World Athletics but have not yet received a response.

Korir says he doesn’t have an issue with World Athletics including universality places but does not think it should impact athletes who had initially qualified via the rankings.

“It’s the Olympics, it’s for all the countries,” Korir said to WWOS. “What we are just saying is they should pick everyone in the rankings … and then the universality athletes are added on top. So I think they should include all of us.”

Leonard Korir Turns To US Army Lawyers To Fight World Athletics Olympic Quota Controversy 3

World Athletics said in a statement to WWOS, “World Athletics is currently in discussions with the International Olympic Committee [IOC] around the allocation of universality places for the marathon at this year’s Olympic Games in Paris.” 

“The IOC has been very clear that the universality entries [which total about 100 athletes] for Paris must be within the total allocated athletics event quota of 1810 [down from 2000 in Rio and from 1900 in Tokyo].”

“However, it is likely that a number will soon confirm a preference for a universality entry in the 100m. Upon receipt of which, World Athletics will be able [to] reallocate these places, if room in the quota allows.”

“As both marathons take place at the end of the Olympic program in Paris, we are in negotiations with the IOC to try and find a solution that will allow next best-ranked athletes in the marathon to enter the village at a later stage and possibly replace athletes from the same NOC who have finished their competition, thus not affecting the overall athlete quota.”

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Jessy has been active her whole life, competing in cross-country, track running, and soccer throughout her undergrad. She pivoted to road cycling after completing her Bachelor of Kinesiology with Nutrition from Acadia University. Jessy is currently a professional road cyclist living and training in Spain.

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