Usain Bolt was recently disqualified for his now infamous false start at the World Championships, and it has generated controversy for the recent rule change which eliminated the allowance of one false start. What you might not be familiar with is the game theory behind the rule change, and how the ancient Greeks created an incentive compatible rule to solve the same problem.
The essence of the problem is the ability of racers to collude against the heavy favorite, favorites like Usain Bolt. If every runner is given one permissible false start, then in an 8-man race, then a group of 7 colluders can create 7 false starts without resulting in a disqualification. This allows the colluding runners to essentially create a "snap count" in which they cycle through false starts, knowing that some certain number will be the "true start." Of course, the front-runner knows this, which makes them hesitant and more conservative coming out of the starting blocks, shifting the advantage to his slower rivals. This also makes for slow television drama, which reduces the popularity of the sport among those more interested in world record times.
So the IAAF's solution was to ban false starts altogether, which still subsequently damaged Bolt's opportunity (and seems to have backfired on making the sport more popular). Now, the Ancient Greeks devised a different rule altogether to circumvent this problem: they beat anyone who committed a false start.
Sure, it sounds (and arguably is) barbaric to physically abuse an athlete for jumping the start. However, this undermined the incentive to cartel against front-runners. The current cartel system works because there are not particularly strong incentives against being the first false-starter, and it shifts the advantage away from the front-runner. Under the Greek rules, however, being the first false starter meant that you would be beaten and would be in a physically worse condition to compete than your co-conspirators, who have an incentive to free-ride on the first mover. Only a sucker to cheap talk volunteers to be the first false starter in that conspiracy.
So the Ancient Greeks devised what, on the surface, appeared primitive, but was also an incentive compatible rule, and one that the modern sophisticated members of the IAAF presently would like to emulate without the violence.