IOF statement – Orienteering World Cup Sprint in Sweden June 6th

Posted on | June 16, 2015 | Category: Arena

As is well-known at this point in time the results of the World Cup Sprint competition in Lysekil Saturday June 6th were declared void due to problems with the punching system. The competition jury determined that the problems, and the handling of the problems during the competition, created unfair competitive conditions and the results were therefore stricken.

The International Orienteering Federation (IOF) takes this situation very seriously, that one of our premiere events has not been able to be completed according to the expectations of our national teams, our athletes, spectators and orienteering fans worldwide. Immediately following the competition we requested reports from the organizers, the IOF Senior Event Adviser (SEA), the supplier of the punching system (SportIdent Gmbh) and the punching and timing system service supplier (SportIdent Sweden). The intent of these reports was to as quickly as possible, but in a structured manner, understand the reasons for the problems, their consequences, and methods to avoid similar problems at future events.

The IOF is very appreciative of the attention applied to this issue by all concerned parties. All have been affected deeply by this failure and have shown professionalism in addressing shortcomings.

Problems of this nature are most commonly not due to one single error and such is the case here also. The analysis has led to three areas where process improvements should be implemented:

  • There were software errors in the PC-configuration software used for programming and configuring the effected units. SportIdent in Germany has identified the nature of the problems, has taken responsibility for them, and has specified a short-term workaround for them. The problems will also be solved in a new release of the software very soon. Please see the full report from SportIdent here. It is important to note that the configuration software version used at this competition was not the same as that used when the IOF approved the SportIdent Air+ system. The release of new software versions in an approved system is not unique. The IOF IT Commission will make a set of recommendations relative to this issue, particularly related to testing.
  • The testing done by the organizer and the service provider was not adequate to identify the punching and timing problems which occurred at the event. The system had been tested by the organizer well in advance of the event, but testing had not specifically been carried out on the system as it was configured for the competition. Furthermore, pre-runners tested the punching, but unfortunately not at competition speed. Their focus was on correct control placement, correct codes, etc. The SEA has made a number of recommendations relative to instructions for testing and the use of pre-runners.
  • The agreement between the organizer and the service provider for the punching and timing system was not clear enough as far as respective areas of responsibilities and delivery boundaries. This led to the parties expecting each other to have carried out testing and other services and to gaps in the delivery. In cases where an organizer is using an external service provider clear delivery boundaries need to be defined.

It is very important that the above findings are communicated to future event organisers and IOF event advisors, and IOF guidelines documents will be updated where appropriate. The IOF IT Commission will be reviewing the above, as well as similar problem reports from previous competitions, and a number of improvements will be implemented to help secure the critical IT solutions required in our sport.

The IOF is confident that the touch-free punching technologies available for orienteering are reliable when applied in accordance with supplier recommendations and tested as any “business-critical” system should be. The respective suppliers have met the rigorous approval requirements set by the IOF Commissions among which are proven use at a significant number of IOF approved events (World Ranking Events etc). They are an asset to our sport as we move forward particularly in high-speed events like sprint orienteering, but also ski orienteering and mountain bike orienteering.

As a final note, the IOF has in cooperation with the organiser and suppliers agreed to share the costs to fully refund the entry fees for the sprint competition in Sweden and the organiser will be in contact with the national teams to arrange repayment. Information about repayment can be found here.

 

Tom Hollowell

IOF Secretary General & CEO

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