The Rules of Race Walking Simplified

(1) A YELLOW PADDLE is a CAUTION, which is just that - an advice to a competitor to be careful as they are in danger of breaching the rules. This advice is given via a yellow paddle bearing one of two symbols: a squiggle for loss of contact, or an arrowhead for a bent knee. A competitor can receive YELLOW PADDLES from every judge on the course, but no more than two (one for each offence) from the same judge. If there were 8 judges on the course, a competitor could, in an extreme case, receive 16 YELLOW PADDLES in a race and still be entitled to finish.

The number of YELLOW PADDLES a competitor receives has NO bearing on whether or not they have been reported to the Chief judge for actually breaking the rules.

(2) A RED CARD is a silent communication between the on-course judges and the Chief judge. A judge issues a RED CARD if a competitor has actually infringed the contact or bent knee rules. A competitor may be 'red carded' only twice and still be allowed to compete - on notification of a third RED CARD the Chief Judge shall indicate to the competitor via a red paddle that they are disqualified and must leave the course immediately.

Again, there is NO connection between the number of YELLOW PADDLES (CAUTIONS) a competitor receives and the act of issuing RED CARDS against them for actual rule infringement. A YELLOW PADDLE is there to assist the walker; a RED CARD is to sanction them.

Note also that there is no such thing as a 'warning'. This term has not been used for some time, yet it still causes confusion today when it is used interchangeably (and inaccurately) with both CAUTION and RED CARD.

(3) The only way competitors (or spectators) can be made aware that a RED CARD has been issued against any competitor is via the Red Card Posting Board, also known as the Disqualification (DQ) Board, which shall display the competitor's number plus an image bearing one of the 'contact' or 'bent knee' symbols. A competitor who sees their own number on this board plus one (or two) of the symbols knows they have been reported at least once for rule infraction. At NO TIME will an on-course judge communicate directly to an athlete that a RED CARD has been issued against them.

It should also be noted that NO athlete should be made aware of their current RED CARD situation by way of on-course commentary, radio or TV. If anyone athlete can be so informed, it follows that every other competitor would expect the same privilege, which would have to be guaranteed in the interest of fairness.

Chief Judge

3. (a) In competitions held under IAAF Rule 1(a), (b), (c), (d), the Chief Judge has the power to disqualify an athlete in the last 100m of a race when their mode of progression obviously fails to comply with paragraph 1 above regardless of the number of previous Red Cards the Chief Judge has received on that athlete. An athlete who is disqualified by the Chief Judge under these circumstances shall be allowed to finish the race.

(b) The Chief Judge shall act as the supervising official for the competition, and act as a Judge only in the special situation noted in paragraph (a) above in competitions under IAAF Rule 1(a), (b), (c) and (d).

In competitions held under IAAF Rule 1(a), (b) and (c), a maximum of two Chief Judge's Assistants shall be appointed. The Chief Judge's Assistant(s) are to assist with the notification of disqualifications only and shall not act as Race Walking Judges.