Flo-Jo's husband will resist record erasing

Florence Griffith Joyner's brilliant career as a sprint queen was always shadowed by allegations that her feats were fuelled by drugs. She died suddenly in 1998.
Florence Griffith Joyner's brilliant career as a sprint queen was always shadowed by allegations that her feats were fuelled by drugs. She died suddenly in 1998. PHOTO: HANDOUT

LOS ANGELES • The husband of late sprint queen Florence Griffith Joyner has vowed to fight moves by international athletics chiefs which could erase her long-standing world records from history, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

Al Joyner, the 1984 Olympic triple jump champion who was married to the sprinter from 1987 until her sudden death in 1998, said attempts to invalidate world records set before an as-yet-undetermined date were unfair.

The 57-year-old told the Journal that he was frustrated "to see how someone with a stroke of a pen, can go change history".

"That's dishonouring my family," he said. "I will fight tooth and nail. I will find every legal opportunity that I can find. I will fight it like I am training for an Olympic gold medal."

Under rules set to be considered by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in August, existing world records would only be recognised if achieved at approved international events and if the athlete concerned had been subject to an agreed number of doping control tests in the months leading up to the performance.

European Athletics Council president Svein Arne Hansen said the move was aimed at removing "the cloud of doubt and innuendo that has hung over our records for too long".

IAAF president Sebastian Coe is also backing the proposal.

Griffith Joyner, known popularly as "Flo-Jo", remains the fastest woman in history, holding the 100m world record of 10.49sec set in 1988 as well as the 200m mark of 21.34sec clocked at the drug-tainted 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Her brilliant career was touched by glamour, lucrative contracts, advertising deals but - despite no proof of any wrongdoing - was always under the shadow of allegations that her feats were fuelled by drugs.

The American retired in February 1989 at the height of her earning power, just months after her record-breaking exploits in Seoul. She died in her sleep at her home in California in September 1998 at the age of 38, after suffering a severe epileptic seizure.

The proposal could potentially see British marathoner Paula Radcliffe, a vocal critic of drug use in athletics, and triple jumper Jonathan Edwards lose their records since performances not meeting the proposed guidelines would no longer be officially sanctioned but would remain on the "all-time list".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2017, with the headline 'Flo-Jo's husband will resist record erasing'. Print Edition | Subscribe