My mistake has helped what used to be on page 163 of the 190-page handbook into something that meet directors are actively reminding athletes about.
Nobody's going to take away Emma Coburn's latest American record.
 
And she'll be keeping that Olympic bronze medal, too.
 
Coburn became the first U.S. female to medal in the steeplechase Monday, finishing the race in 9:07.63, bettering her 11-week-old American record by more than 3 seconds.
 
Coburn actually has owned the fastest American time for more than two years, but that's where things get interesting.
 
She first set the mark at a small Diamond League meet in Scotland in 2014. But those meets are small and don't have the sort of doping control that's in place at bigger meets such as the Olympics. Because Coburn acts as her own agent, she didn't have anyone prodding her to go give a urine sample. Without that sample, USA Track and Field could not ratify the record, so her friend, Jenny Simpson, stayed on the books.
 
AP Photo/Matt Dunham
 
Motivation to keep going?
 
"I'm very motivated with or without a medal, a record, what have you," Coburn said. 
 
An oversight, though, that's helpful to others.
 
"When you go to a Diamond League meet, there's a provision in the meet packet that says if you set a record go to testing," Coburn explained. "So my mistake has helped what used to be on page 163 of the 190-page handbook into something that meet directors are actively reminding athletes about. Even though it was a big mess-up on my part, it hasn't been a big shadow on my careeer."