ARRL Statement on 2009 IARU HF Championships

Statement of the ARRL Awards Committee Regarding HQ Station Entries in the 2009 IARU HF World Championship

June 7, 2010

A most unfortunate dispute has arisen in connection with the 2009 IARU HF World Championship between participants in two HQ station entries: AO8HQ on behalf of Union de Radioaficionados Espanoles (URE) and DA0HQ on behalf of the Deutscher Amateur Radio Club (DARC). It is extremely regrettable that the matter has escalated into a distraction from the other issues facing Amateur Radio organizations today. As the administrator of the contest on behalf of the IARU, the ARRL regrets that it has contributed to this development in two ways.

First, we have allowed too much emphasis to develop on competition between HQ station entries. The special category of HQ stations was intended to raise the visibility of the IARU member-societies among active radio amateurs, and to make the contest more interesting to participants by providing additional multipliers. It was never intended to be a competition for the highest world score. Clearly there can never be a “level playing field” for such competition, nor does it further the objectives of the IARU.

Second, in adjudicating the 2009 contest results a serious error was made in the initial computation of scores. Many contacts were incorrectly identified as “busted calls” that were not. As a result of this error, when the results were first published AO8HQ was shown as having the highest score when in fact the DA0HQ score, after correction of the computation, is slightly higher. When the corrected results were published, the AO8HQ operators were understandably disappointed. They had believed that, as was the case in 2008, their location in Africa – from which the vast majority of QSOs (including those with Spanish stations in Europe) are worth 5 points – would elevate their score based on about 12,000 QSOs past the scores of all of the other HQ stations, 16 of which had more QSOs than AO8HQ.

The DA0HQ log contains more than 26,000 QSOs. Several thousand of these contacts are with “unique” German call signs – that is, call signs that appear in no (or very few) other logs. Most of these appear to be contacts with individual amateurs who got on the air to work their national team but who were not otherwise participating in the contest. Such contacts are found in every HQ station log, including AO8HQ. They are more numerous in the DA0HQ log than in others because of the large number of German amateurs and because an award is offered (and has been offered for a number of years) to encourage contacts with DA0HQ on both modes and on all six bands. Other member-societies offer similar awards.

Following publication of the corrected, final results URE obtained the DA0HQ log from DARC and conducted a detailed analysis. URE identified hundreds of QSOs by DA0HQ with German stations that it regarded as questionable. The DA0HQ team reviewed this analysis and responded by acknowledging that “The German amateur radio community was overly eager in assisting DA0HQ to win the contest, and used means that, although legal, were construed by the AO8HQ team as being illegal. DA0HQ had no control over these actions, and did not request them in any way.” This included “liberal use of club station calls in addition to personal call signs.”

The “General Rules for All ARRL Contests” apply to the IARU HF World Championship. These rules provide that “An operator may not use more than one call sign from any given location during the contest period.” The General Rules also provide that “A transmitter used to contact one or more stations may not be subsequently used under any other call during the contest period, except for family stations where more than one call has been issued, and then only if the second call sign is used by a different operator. (The intent of this rule is to accommodate family members who must share a rig and to prohibit manufactured or artificial contacts.)”

For the vast majority of QSOs questioned by URE, the most reasonable explanation based on circumstantial evidence is that the operators who made those contacts with DA0HQ were violating one or both of these rules. This is not unique either to DA0HQ or to this year’s event. Excessive “cheerleading” for national teams is practiced in other countries and has been for a number of years. While the operators providing these contacts may have been violating the rules, the DA0HQ operators were not. No penalty can be imposed on the operators who violated the contest rules because they were not competing. Neither can a penalty be imposed on DA0HQ; URE has provided no evidence, and the ARRL Awards Committee is aware of none, to contradict DARC’s contention that the DA0HQ operators did not solicit contacts in violation of the contest rules.

That said, DARC has acknowledged that DA0HQ benefited from the fact that German amateurs were “overly eager” to assist. This underscores the principal lesson to be learned from the unfortunate acrimony of the past few months: far too much emphasis has been placed on a competition that is essentially meaningless. Comparing the results of different national HQ teams, especially across continental boundaries, is comparing apples and oranges (or apples and pears) and leads to behavior that is contrary to the IARU objective of promoting international goodwill and friendship.

Therefore, the ARRL Awards Committee has decided that no certificate will be awarded for the high scoring IARU member society HQ station in the 2009 IARU HF World Championship. A certificate will be awarded to each continental leader, and certificates of appreciation for their participation will be awarded to all HQ stations. Effective with the 2010 IARU HF World Championship, no adjudication of HQ station logs will be conducted by the ARRL. A certificate of participation will be awarded to each IARU member society HQ station. Also effective with the 2010 event, by submitting a log the submitter agrees that the log may be made public, at the discretion of the Contest Sponsor.

We are grateful for the support of the IARU HF World Championship by the operators of all IARU member-society HQ stations. The ARRL will not engage in further correspondence with regard to the 2009 IARU HF World Championship but welcomes suggestions for improvements for future events.

Dave Patton, NN1N

Manager, ARRL Membership and Volunteer Programs

For the ARRL Awards Committee

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