If you care enough about competitive CrossFit to have found this post in the first place, you probably already know about the latest cheating scandal in the 2017 CrossFit Open. This time the ban wasn’t because of taking a PED or using hormone replacement therapy and sniffing deer antlers while inverted or some other twist on an unfair competitive edge. The athlete of interest was not only a Masters athlete ranked #1 world wide for men ages 40-44 but also happened to qualify for 2nd in his region (Northern California) for men of all ages. Again.
Pretty amazing right? I mean, the idea that you can be over twice as old as the other men in your region and still be on the top of the leaderboard is not entirely impossible. A bad ass is a bad ass at any age, after all. Except for this:
As of the time of this post, there are several links where you can see the video. My favorite is from the tongue-n-cheek blog that spoofs CrossFit in a very clever way.
I’ve watched it a few times now and from what I can tell, Trevor actually DID do at least two rounds because the last set of double unders has a noticeable head bob that was not in the other nine “rounds”. If you weren’t paying close attention, you might not have even noticed, so kudos to the HQ judge who flagged the video. The first big clue was how Trevor picked up his rope the same exact way with a slight shoulder bobble. And of course, in the last (second) round the athlete drops to the ground in a dramatic fashion gasping for air and writhing on the ground.
Come to think of it, that’s not far from my story with 17.5 after only two rounds either, but I was racing to beat 30 minutes, a far cry from best in the world.
Earlier this year I watched another set of videos showing another Masters athlete (also from Northern California) who’s controversial performances during the 2017 CrossFit Open posts went viral after his community noticed that he too had allegedly edited the videos, stopping the clock to rest so that he could finish before the time cap. He wasn’t best in the world so it didn’t hit HQ’s radar the same way as Trevor’s story.
I get it: (some) people will always cheat. They might not all do it for the same reason(s) but it is what it is. Nothing can ever stop that part of human nature and it certainly isn’t CrossFit HQ’s job to police the world of Online Bro-Reppin’/Bro-Roid Injectin’ or otherwise Cheater McCheaty-Pants Cheaters.
That said, I do think CrossFit HQ could step it up a little and help bridge the gap between an ‘Honor System’ that they’ve clearly outgrown and keeping the spirit of competition that is fair as well as fun for all.
Here’s my proposal:
- Create a new category during registration called ‘Elite’. Hell, charge more for it if you need to.
- This new ‘Elite’ category is required to submit videos each and every time they submit a score for the Open, whether or not they are validated by a CrossFit Affiliate and Certified Judge.
- For those who want to just do the Open like most of the 385 thousand on the roster, a video submission is required if you’re not validated by a CrossFit Affiliate. No change from how it is today.
- No matter how high you score, a regular RX or Scaled athlete will never rank higher overall than an ‘Elite’ score that has a video submission when it comes time for consideration for the Regionals, Master’s Online Qualifier, Teen Online Qualifier or Team.
- For any of the Online Qualifiers, require video for each workout in 2017. I know that seems harsh, but I think it’s fair to ask athletes of this level to do.
The idea behind this is that the athletes who really are competing for a coveted spot on the Open Leaderboard to qualify for a chance at Regionals or an Online Qualifier are never impacted by questionable scores. If you’re elite enough to be in the top 200 worldwide you should be legitimate enough to be able to submit a video of your performance or really, you’re just not “there” yet.
And for those who want to do the Open for all the right reasons but don’t want to submit videos (I can relate because I cringe every time I see my poor form on screen), this change will never impact you.
The side benefit from this would be that there would be a lot more to enjoy about the Leaderboard each week when we can view videos of the best CrossFitters in each division. Note to HQ: make sure you’re prepared for an increased interest in Leaderboard Stalking and have the architecture in place to support a crowd.
Of course, HQ would need to dedicate a review committee to deal with the volume of flagged videos that would result, but isn’t this part of what that $10 charge to be able to complete the online judging course is supposed to be about? And think about this, HQ: if you had more videos on the Leaderboard in 2018 there would be a lot more incentive for people to take the online judge’s course so that they could participate in the process to validate/invalidate videos.
I do believe this: I think you’d see a lot more realistic scores submitted if those on the bubble of Regionals/Masters Qualifier/Teen Qualifier/TEAM had to prove they followed the standards and did the work. Prove me wrong. 🙂
Help bring the joy and grass-roots spirit back into the Open. Don’t let these cheating scandals suck the fun out of what is supposed to be an honor-based competition. Keep the community engaged and let us watch our peers who deserve to be on top of the Leaderboard because they’ve earned the spot. Fix the loophole and give us a reason to wonder at someone’s performance for the right reasons, not wonder if they cheated.
Before you go, if any of this strikes a chord with you, or if you think you have something meaningful to add to the conversation/proposal/solution, please leave a comment. The idea of change starts with the voices of a community. Thank you for your time.