The Two Top Male Scores for CrossFit Open Workout 18.1 Have Been Invalidated

The first event for the 2018 CrossFit Open seemed like a simple workout:

8 Toes-to-Bar
10 Dumbbell Hang Clean & Jerks (5 each arm; men use 50 pounds, women use 35 pounds)
14/12 Calories Rowed 

The notes on CrossFit’s official website state that the required equipment are a pull-up bar, a dumbbell of appropriate weight, and a “Rower that counts calories, similar in type and calibration to a Concept 2 rower.”

The announcement did not say that the rower needs to be a Concept 2, so some athletes around the world completed the Open on rower models like the Xebex.

That’s the model used by the men who originally finished in the top two spots worldwide for 18.1, Jonathan Varela and Malachi Bennett. They completed 492 and 489 reps respectively. You can watch Bennett’s workout below.

Controversy started not long after the winners were announced. “How do we know if competing rowing models use the same calibration for calories burned?” “Calories burned varies based on your bodyweight and other factors anyway.” “Those Xebex rowers sure look a lot easier to row on.” The discussion brought us this parody video from Games athlete Jacob Heppner.

A post shared by Jacob Heppner (@jheppner66) on

According to research from The Morning Chalk Up, Xebex claims that their rowers are indeed of similar calibration to Concept 2 and that they “believe that it is approved for (the) Open.”

But the day after Varela and Bennett were awarded the top two spots in 18.1, CrossFit HQ removed their names from the top of the leaderboard. Their spots now belong to Denmark’s Nicolai Duus (487 reps) and Iceland’s Hinrik Ingi Oskarsson (480 reps).

CrossFit HQ published a statement on Wednesday night to confirm the rumors: You can’t use a Xebex rower for the CrossFit Open.

After reviewing videos from Open Workout 18.1, CrossFit has concluded that Xebex-branded rowers are not allowed in competition. The Xebex configuration is significantly easier than the competition standard and violates the “uncommon movement clause” from the CrossFit Games Rulebook.

Athletes and gyms who used Xebex-branded rowers in competition must report their 18.1 scores to [email protected] by the close of 18.2, March 6 at 5 p.m. PT, to remain in the competition. Athletes and gyms who report their scores will receive a major penalty in the form of a 15-percent deduction. Those who used Xebex rowers must report their scores to remain active in the competition.

So can you just redo the workout with a Concept2 rower if you submit the results by March 6? According to a post from the CrossFit Games on Facebook:

No. You must report your score to the support team if you wish to remain in the competition.

That settles that.

Update, 2/28/18: Get Rxd, who make and sell Xebex rowers, have released the following statement.

Featured image via @mulyanafitness on Instagram.

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I’m a journalist with over seven years' reporting experience on four continents, with most of that spent covering health-related issues. My experience includes covering cholera outbreaks in Kenya and the clubbing scene in Shanghai, which is also where I wrote my first health article for an English language magazine. (It was on diarrhea.)After returning to Australia to finish up degrees in Journalism and International Relations I wound up in New York City, where I’ve worked for Men’s Health, VICE, Popular Science and others. I try to keep health relatively simple — it’s mostly vegetables and sweat — but I live to explore the debates, the fringes, the niche, and the nitty gritty.