The following is a response regarding the squat judging during the 2010 IPA World Championships in York, Pa.
By now everyone has either heard or seen comments on the internet regarding the squat judging at World's. First and foremost I stand 100 % behind my judging that weekend and my abilities as a referee as whole. There was no "conspiracy" to change the standards expected, just to call squat depth as outlined in the IPA rule book: "The lifter must bend the knees and lower the body until the top of the thigh at the hip, NOT the hip joint, is lower than the top of the kneecap." There is a diagram online demonstrating what is expected.
There were no "Inconsistencies" from Saturday to Sunday, as alleged. When Ken Wood, who judged with me on the sides, had to leave on Sunday and until he was replaced with another judge, the depth call remained consistent. I called every squat the same from the first Saturday morning till the last squat on Sunday. I became a lightning rod for anger not only from the lifters but spectators as well. It takes two red lights to turn down a lift. What made my day was having Fred Glass come to me to shake my hand and say "Good Job" for sticking to my guns and not caving to their pressure and retaining my integrity. Fred, a legend in Powerlifting, is someone I look up to and value as a friend. I have learned as much as I could about powerlifting from him. Along with Fred there were many lifters who thanked me and the other judges for holding standards.
Some stated "Had I known ahead of the the standards, I could've planned ahead." Well, other than it clearly defined in the rule book, offered each day, posted on the schedule there was a time to find out..... IT'S CALLED THE RULES CLINIC. Fewer and fewer lifters attend the rules clinics. The most egregious offenders are the "Name" lifters and the "Upper Echelon" lifters acting like it's beneath them to attend. During the weekend, I held the rules clinic, at best 20 or so lifters attended each day. Those obviously absent who had the most problems. I started each clinic by announcing that everyone needed to listen up because we are explaining rule clarifications. But as a lifter, it is YOUR JOB to know the rules and check for any rule changes (outlined regularly on the IPA website) and NEVER ASSUME ANYTHING. By their absence at rules clinic, the lifter is at fault, not the IPA.
What was frustrating for me during the weekend was that 90% of the redlighted attempts could've been white lights. All was needed was to "BREAK PARALLEL;" not "get close, just about there, or damn close to", but break it. We're not asking for in the bucket or ass to the floor, but just a subtle break. Everyone that asked why the lift was turned down, either gave me a dirty or incredulous look like what I was asking for was outrageous. I am singling out one individual for his complete lack of professionalism. Mark Van Alstyne was among those who just needed to do was "break parallel". He squatted only to parallel and bombed out of the meet. Instead of accepting what happened, he issued blame on everyone and everything except himself. He went as far a making the statement "Sorry, tough to get canvas that is tight enough to handle heavy weight 1-2 inches below parallel". Maybe he needs to get a looser suit and to get stronger. Lifters need to stop relying solely on the equipment to get the lift for them. This is not an anti-gear rant as some may try to twist it into. I would not have survived my 20 year competitive lifting career without it. I can back my statement, I have squatted over 1,000lbs in a completely canvas suit and it was at least 3 inches BELOW parallel. With current technology, like using an Inzer Leviathan, the hardcore inserts are meant to allow you to break parallel.
In early June this year, APF Senior's had many lifters who bombed out in the squat. No one made as public a complaint compared to the furor coming out regarding IPA World's. Did lifters think by coming to the IPA, they were going to be handed gifts? Sorry, not anymore.
Since I stepped away from the platform and took an active administrative role in the IPA, it has been my mission to undo the negativity hurled at the IPA and enforce the written standards. Gone are individuals who failed to maintain integrity and lowered meets into free-for-alls. A lifter who competes in the IPA, whether the meet is run by Dan Dague, Mark Chailllet or my wife and I, know that standards are kept and maintained at a high level. No one deserves to have a lift tarnished by the federation's reputation. LIfters should be proud to have their lifts white lighted for the right reasons.
So no matter what we do, we are damned either way. If we relax standards, we are the "HIGH-PA" and if we call as the rules dictate we are "ANTI LIFTER". I know one thing, with the many phone calls and e-mails from people thanking us for holding the standards high, I know what we did was, fair, just and most importantly, consistent. This was our World Championships, how can we allow someone to be a World Champion if they cannot complete a lift compliant to the rules?
I ask you all, my fellow competitors, to unite as one to help move the sport forward. Otherwise divided we remain immersed in the quagmire that Powerlifting has become; full of negativity, jealousy, back stabbing and petty hatred strangling the life from the sport that has been my life for the past 28 years. Together we progress, divided we fall.
Gene Rychlak, Jr