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'Revolutionary' plan to wipe existing world records in athletics

The European Athletics Council has proposed the move as a way to tackle the sport’s doping problems.

The Jamaican men's team hold the world record for 4x100 metre relay, which they set in 2012.
The Jamaican men's team hold the world record for 4x100 metre relay, which they set in 2012.
Image: Szwarc Henri

THE EUROPEAN ATHLETICS Council has come up with a radical plan that would wipe out existing European and world records and set a clean slate as part of the fight against doping.

The proposal was adopted during the Council’s meeting in Paris over the weekend, and president Svein Arne Hansen admitted it was “revolutionary”.

In a nod to the stain that doping has left on athletics, he also said that “performance records that show the limits of human capabilities are one of the great strengths of our sport, but they are meaningless if people don’t really believe them”.

“It’s a radical solution for sure, but those of us who love athletics are tired of the cloud of doubt and innuendo that has hung over our records for too long.”

The project proposes that world and European records only be recognised if achieved at approved international events and if the athlete concerned “has been subject to an agreed number of doping control tests in the months leading up to the performance”, a statement said.

All records set before 2005 will remain but only on a list of old records.

The plan will be put forward to the council meeting of world governing body the IAAF in August.

IAAF president Sebastian Coe, who attended the Council meeting in Paris, indicated that he was in favour of the proposal.

I like this because it underlines that we have put into place doping control systems 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.”

The idea was criticised by two leading Swedish athletes when asked by the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, with European heptathlon record holder Carolina Kluft saying: “Obviously I would find it disgusting if I were deprived of my record when I was completely clean.”

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Patrik Sjoberg, now aged 52 and who set the European high jump record in 1987, complained that the proposal “implied” that all records from 2017 or earlier were set by “doped athletes”.

British athletics icon and women’s marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe tweeted her displeasure as well — the IAAF have only stored blood and urine samples since 2005 placing her 2003 record at risk.

“I am hurt and do feel this damages my reputation and dignity,” said Radcliffe.

“It is a heavy-handed way to wipe out some really suspicious records in a cowardly way by simply sweeping all aside instead of having the guts to take the legal plunge and wipe any record that would be found in a court of law to have been illegally assisted.”

– © AFP 2017

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