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Rules and Personal Justice; Or Not

Apparently Shawn Crawford who won the silver medal in the 200 meter race has given his medal to Churandy Martina. Martina finished second to Crawford but was disqualified for running out his lane. Crawford explained “[I]f a guy is 10 meters in front of me, I don’t care if he stayed in the middle of his lane, … He was going to beat me anyway. He didn’t impede in anybody’s race.”

Curiously Crawford also said “It wasn’t about doing the right thing. It’s just me as an athlete — I feel like we all compete and train for four years to get to the Olympic Games.” Crawford went on and noted that the Martina came in second, took his victory lap, and then was told he was disqualified. That was the key for Crawford who said he understood Martina’s “humiliation and embarrassment and all that” and that as an athlete Crawford empathized with Martina “[S]o [he felt] like it was to [Crawford] to give it up to [Martina].”

It turns out that the disqualification came because the U.S. committee filed a protest against Martina after another U.S. sprinter was disqualified for the same violation. Yet, for Crawford a no harm, no foul sensibility is in play. Perhaps he is downplaying the justice or right thing perspective as a way to highlight that it is the right thing. One does the right thing regardless of the rules. Or perhaps he is saying in this case he simply chose to do what he felt like doing. There was no calculus regarding right and wrong. Instead he was saying it was a clean win, and the person who was so close to Crawford as a person i.e., as an athlete, was someone he believed deserved the medal. So Crawford may be saying future cases should apply the rules, but the individual can do as he wishes.