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Allyson Felix-Jeneba Tarmoh tie in 100 meters to be broken by run-off or coin flip

EUGENE, Ore. – The third-place tie in the women's 100-meter final will be broken by a run-off or a coin flip, officials announced Sunday.

After a review of Saturday's final, it was determined that Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh finished in a dead heat (at 11.068 seconds) for the third and final qualifying spot on the women's 100-meter Olympic team. That determination was made after review of photographic evidence, reversing the initial result that found Tarmoh finished third.

To break the tie, Felix and Tarmoh will be given a choice between a coin flip or run-off. Should both competitors choose the same option, that option will be used to determine the third spot on the Olympic team. Should one competitor choose run-off but the other a coin flip, a run-off will be held.

[ Photos: See more images of Allyson Felix ]

However, if both competitors refuse to make a choice, the spot then will be determined by coin flip. If one competitor chooses either option but the other competitor refuses to make a choice, the preference of the first competitor will determine the tiebreak method. 

Alternatively, either competitor can choose to cede the spot and assume a spot as an alternate.

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Torso position is used to determine finishing time. (USATF photo)

USA Track and Field spokesperson Jill Geer said Tarmoh and Felix had just been informed Sunday evening of the procedure and had not yet decided upon a tiebreak format. Geer said the issue must be decided by the end of trials, as the USATF must have its teams named by then. Even if Tarmoh or Felix should qualify for the London Games in a different event – seemingly allowing the postponement of a choice around the 100 specifically until closer to the Olympics – Geer said the actual lineup for the 100 would need to be determined by the end of trials.

Carmelita Jeter won the 100 final, with Tianna Madison finishing second. Felix and Tarmoh both are competing in the 200 later in the week, and both are in the pools to determine the women's relay teams.

Should the competitors agree to a run-off, the actual logistics of the event – where and when the race would be held – would be determined by USATF chief of sport performance Benita Fitzgerald Mosley. But any run-off would have to be held by the end of trials on July 1. Geer said she wouldn't anticipate a scenario in which a run-off would not be held here at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus.

Should a run-off end in another dead heat, that tie would be broken by coin toss. Should a coin toss occur under any scenario, the higher-ranked athlete will be given the choice of heads or tails.

Bobby Kersee, who coaches both Felix and Tarmoh, appeared to be in favor of a run-off.

"Nine times out of 10, most athletes aren't going to want to flip a coin," Kersee told the Associated Press. "Would you go to the Super Bowl and after two overtimes or what have you, have the referees take both coaches to the middle of the field and say, 'We're going to flip to see who wins the Super Bowl?' I don't see that."

Kersee also told AP that he would rather the run-off be held later, so as to allow the runners time to recover from competition in the 200 meters.

No procedure to break such a tie previously had been in place, so USATF and other track officials met Saturday night and Sunday to create the tiebreak procedure. The procedure was approved by the United States Olympic Committee – which oversees all Olympic qualifying procedures – and will apply to any and all such dead heats in running events, including but not limited to the 100 meters.

Felix, who won the 100 at the 2010 U.S. outdoor track championships, is a five-time U.S. champion in the 200 and also is competing in that event at the trials. She won the silver in the event at the 2008 Beijing Games, and was part of the gold-winning 4x400 team there.

Tarmoh finished third last year in the 200 at the U.S. outdoor championships. She is trying to make her first Olympic team.

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