Athletics: Radcliffe against British plans to reset world records

World marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe posing with Syrian students during a visit to Beirut last year. She is not in favour of resetting world records that UKA suggested.
World marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe posing with Syrian students during a visit to Beirut last year. She is not in favour of resetting world records that UKA suggested.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Paula Radcliffe said that UK Athletics (UKA) would be punishing clean athletes if it succeeds in erasing all world records.

UKA's "Manifesto for Clean Athletics", published on Monday, contained a raft of proposals, including life bans for British dopers, jail terms for suppliers and a public register for all drug tests.

It also called for sponsors to reconsider backing athletes with doping pasts, which could bring it into conflict with its kit supplier, Nike, which supports Justin Gatlin, twice a drug offender.

Radcliffe supported many of UKA's ideas, but was against starting a fresh book of records.

"Do that and you will end up punishing innocent athletes," she said. "The record holders probably competed against cheats for most of their career, so you are punishing them twice at the hands of doping. It just doesn't make sense."

Radcliffe and Jonathan Edwards are Britain's only outdoor world record holders, in the women's marathon and triple jump respectively.

She was consulted by UKA before the body drew up the manifesto, and told the authors that a better idea would be to erase dopers' past records.

She said: "I've heard one of the ideas is to start with new events by changing the width of lanes or making the marathon 28 miles - that would be ludicrous and totally destroy the sport."

Ed Warner, the chairman of UKA, said that the manifesto was designed to provoke debate at a time when the sport is in crisis.

"There are records that athletes simply cannot get near," he said. "That's unfair."

Briton Sebastian Coe, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president, also wants to expunge dopers' records.

Warner said: "(Seb) told me that he is in favour of picking off those records that are clearly wrong. If we can do that, then let's get on with it. We have a situation now where the 1990s men's shot record is held by someone who was banned for life."

The sprint records of Florence Griffith Joyner, who died suddenly at the age of 38, and Marita Koch, implicated by East German secret police files, have also attracted suspicion.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2016, with the headline 'Radcliffe against British plan to reset world records'. Print Edition | Subscribe