The following article was written by John back in June 2008.  This issue has been raised on many occasions and is probably more relevant to the wider Orienteering community but as controllers/setters it does outline nicely our responsibilities.


I’ve written before about how we can and should handle things when something goes wrong at an event, and at a recent Controllers’ training workshop, it was suggested that everyone needs to have a really clear understanding of what to do and who to speak to when something goes wrong at an event. So let’s revisit it again and hopefully this will help everyone to understand the ins and outs of how problems at events are dealt with.

First, let’s revisit the Orienteering Tasmania Code of Conduct (to which we as members should all adhere).

Let’s note in particular the following statements from that code:

1. Treat all persons with respect and dignity.

8. Use appropriate channels to object, complain, express concern or criticise.

9. Admit our mistakes and accept that mistakes will happen despite the best efforts of all concerned.

Let’s focus on Clause 8: Use appropriate channels to object, complain, express concern or criticise.

Take, as an example, that you had difficulty finding a control on your course and you believe it was not in the correct place. You lost time, energy and patience, so that by the time you finished your course you felt pretty riled. Here is what you should do:

(Note: I’m describing this in the context of a Tasmanian state or club event - major events could involve slightly different initial processes as to where and whom you report your concerns)

1. Check in through the finish (SI download, etc.). At this stage say nothing, but take time to get your breath, calm down, and maybe see if others had the same problem. If they didn’t, then possibly you were wrong. If they did, then there might be a problem to be resolved.

2. Go back to the finish tent, and ask to speak to the event Controller. Resist the temptation to sound off at anyone in the tent – they are volunteers who are helping run the event for you – it is the Controller to whom you need to speak.

3. Speak quietly to the Controller stating that you wish "to make a complaint". (Note: at this stage you are lodging a complaint, not a protest.) Explain and discuss the problem with the Controller, then leave him or her to consider your complaint.

4. The Controller will then look at the problem, generally in consultation with the Course Planner. This may well involve, in this case, the Controller (or someone requested by the Controller) going out to look at the problem control.

5. Once the issues have been considered, the Controller will make a ruling on your complaint. In this case it might be to reject your complaint having determined that the control placement was in fact correct or, if the control was wrongly placed, to uphold your complaint and (probably) cancel the courses that were affected by the incorrect control.

6. The Controller will then inform you of the result of your complaint, and if it affects other competitors, then they must also be informed.

7. That could well be the end of the situation.

8. However, if you (or any other competitor affected by the Controller’s ruling) feels that the ruling on the complaint was wrong or unfair, then you (and anyone else affected) have the right to lodge a protest. The protest is made against the Controller’s ruling on the complaint.

9. A protest should be submitted in writing to the Controller, who will then convene a jury panel of three to consider the protest. The Controller chairs the panel, can discuss the issue with the panel, but does not have a vote on the final outcome.

10. Following the jury’s decision, the result is made known to you and anyone affected by the ruling.

11. The jury’s decision is final.

OK, so that’s a bit long-winded – but as competitors we have a responsibility to be aware of the rules of our sport, and to follow the set (detailed) procedures within those rules. 

But let me summarise this process a bit more succinctly:

1. If you’ve had a problem on your course, don’t sound off to anyone after you finish your course. Get your breath and calm down.

2. Speak to the right person – Controller. Lodge a COMPLAINT with the Controller if you feel that’s appropriate.

3. Leave the Controller to consider your complaint.

4. When the Controller gives you his/her ruling, you either accept it, or you can:

5. Register a PROTEST (in writing) against the Controller’s ruling on your complaint.

6. The Controller convenes a jury to decide the protest.

7. The jury’s decision is final.

As competitors we must respect our officials, as we expect them to respect us. When we take up issues with our officials, it must be done calmly and politely – without anger. (1. Treat all persons with respect and dignity)

And accept the outcomes! It may be that you were in the wrong, or that the Controller or Course Planner have made a mistake. (9. Admit our mistakes and accept that mistakes will happen despite the best efforts of all concerned.)

After all – it is just a sport to be enjoyed.