No it is not a cop out, because the protocol is negotiated and agreed upon by both party *before* the test, preliminary or not. Also the JREF make sure the protocl to be agreed upon is impartial, that is can be judged by any party to be failed or sucess without having any sort of discussion. For a dowser for example it might be "dowser go out of the room with judge, impartial person put a gold nugget under observation under a random paper cup, then go out of theroom , judge come back with dowser, dowser has as many time as needed (with say an upper limit of 30minutes) and chose a paper cup , then paper cup are revealed, then mished at different position and first step is repeated. To pass preliminary dowser must at least find 3 gold nugget out of 10 test , and at least 6 out of 10 test for the real challenge".
Usually a lot of woo protest that the prelim are not fair, but in reality the test are agreed upon to have 1 chance out of 1000 to happen by chance alone, and 1 out of 1 million for the final test. All those protest of unfairness are in reality from most woo just cop out because they can't when properly double blind tested show any special ability whatsoever.