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Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Updated: June 28, 4:30 PM ET
Coach wants extension for recovery

Associated Press

EUGENE, Ore. -- Bobby Kersee is requesting that USA Track and Field extend its deadline to give his athletes more time to recover.

The coach for Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh has been vigorously campaigning for a Tuesday runoff race, should that be the option his sprinters decide to choose.

To run any sooner, Kersee said, wouldn't be fair to his athletes. They are both entered in the 200 meters beginning Thursday at Olympic track trials.

"I thought USA Track and Field's responsibility at first was to look out for the best interest of the athlete," Kersee told The Associated Press on Wednesday night. "That's what I thought. But, apparently, I might be mistaken."

USATF officials said they will wait until after the women's 200 final Saturday night to finalize plans for breaking a third-place tie in the 100. The top three finishers in each event at the trials make the U.S. Olympic team for London, provided they have met the qualifying standards.

The organization has fallen under scrutiny for not having a procedure in place to break this kind of dead heat. Immediately after the 100 race, USATF hastily scrambled to put together some options for the athletes.

Felix and Tarmoh can either have a runoff -- a winner-take-all race -- or resort to a coin flip. One of them can also choose to bow out, too.

The head of the U.S. Olympic Committee says that nothing like this will happen again.

"Next time," CEO Scott Blackmun said Thursday, "we'll have a process in place that addresses this that won't involve a delay in the decision."

While Felix and Tarmoh technically have until Sunday, when the trials end, to decide, there may be some wiggle room.

"We're not taking anything completely off the table at this point," said Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, the chief of sport performance for USATF. "It's a difficult situation. We have to take the best interest of everyone into consideration.

"Certainly, the athletes come first and foremost. But we also have a team to pick. We just don't have any information from the athletes, and the athletes want to wait until Saturday. They may choose a coin flip. One may decide to give up her spot. We don't know what we're dealing with."

For now, the sprinters simply want to concentrate on the task at hand.

"Frankly and very frankly, as of tomorrow morning, me and both my athletes are going to focus on the 200 meters," Kersee said. "Then on Saturday, we'll talk about this again. If the situation hasn't changed, based on what they're saying, we'll make a decision."

As it stands, both runners already are eligible to be selected to the Olympic 400 relay team. So are Carmelita Jeter, who won the 100, and runner-up Tianna Madison.

The trials took a two-day break and will return to action Thursday with qualifying for the 200. Felix and Tarmoh will be stepping back on the track for the first time since their controversial finish.

Felix is the favorite in the 200, winning Olympic silver medals in 2004 and '08.