A radical proposal to erase many athletics world records due to doping scandals has received support from the sport’s governing body, despite being slammed as “cowardly” by former athletes.
European Athletics have made the proposal, saying world records in athletics “are meaningless if people don’t really believe them”.
The International Association of Athletics Federations [IAAF] says the changes would give the sport “a good chance of winning back credibility”.
No Australians would be affected by the proposed changes, but athletes across the world — headed by star British marathon runner Paula Radcliffe— are seething over the idea.
Under the proposal, a world record would only be recognised if the athlete responsible had been regularly drug tested beforehand, the sample given after achieving the record was stored and available for re-testing for a 10-year period, and the record was set at an approved international event.
Causing major headaches for athletes is the fact the IAAF only began keeping blood and urine samples in 2005.
That means current world records set before then which do not meet the proposed standards would no longer be recognised — but placed on an “all-time list”.
The IAAF, which will decide on whether they adopt the proposal, appeared to endorse it when organisation head Sebastien Coe offered his support.
“I like this because it underlines that we have put into place a doping control system and technology that are more robust and safer than 15 or even 10 years ago,” he said.
“There will be athletes, current record-holders, who will feel that the history we are recalibrating will take something away from them, but I think this is a step in the right direction and, if organised and structured properly, we have a good chance of winning back credibility in this area.”
Radcliffe hits out
Radcliffe, 43, was the most outspoken of athletes after hearing she could lose her 2003 marathon world record, which stands at 2 hours, 15 minutes and 25 seconds.
“I worked extremely hard for my PBs [personal bests] and they will always be valid to me,” she wrote on Twitter.
“I know they were set through hard work and best effort and abiding by all the rules and am proud of them.
“Governing bodies have a duty to protect every clean athlete, here they again fail those athletes.
“We had to compete against cheats, they couldn’t provide us a level playing field, we lost out on medals, moments and earnings due to cheats, saw our sport dragged through the mud to cheats and now, thanks to those cheats, we potentially lose our World and Area records.”
Radcliffe, who also questioned the testing procedures and said the decision would confuse fans, added that she was “hurt” by the likelihood of the proposal getting the green light.
“[I] do feel this damages my reputation and dignity … it is a heavy- handed way to wipe out some really suspicious records in a cowardly way,” she added.”
The decision, if made, would see many world records set in the 1980s and still not bettered — viewed as suspicious within the athletics fraternity — wiped.
Records set in the ’80s held by East German Marita Koch, US sprint sensation Florence Griffiths-Joyner and Czech Jarmila Kratochvílová would reportedly be jeopardised by the proposal.