Athletes angry at plans to erase world records

LONDON • Paula Radcliffe and Jonathan Edwards have reacted with incredulity and dismay to news that all athletics world and European records before 2005 are likely to be stripped from the record books.

Radcliffe, who set the world marathon record in 2003, told The Guardian she was "offended" by proposals that were approved by European Athletics at the weekend, adding that it "unfairly damages the reputations of many innocent athletes".

Edwards, whose triple jump world record dates back to 1995, called them "wrong-headed and cowardly" - and warned it will further erode trust in athletics.

The plan, which is strongly backed by Sebastian Coe, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), will not only require anyone who sets a world record to have been tested numerous times in the months beforehand but also to have the sample taken after their record performance still available for retesting.

The IAAF has stored blood and urine samples only since 2005, which means the records by Edwards and Radcliffe are at risk of being struck off.

Edwards, 50, told The Guardian he fundamentally disagreed with the decision.

"I wish they had the courage of their convictions," he said.

"If there are records that are unbelievable and suspicious, go for those. I thought my record would go some day, just not to a bunch of sports administrators. It seems incredibly wrong-headed and cowardly. It casts doubts on generations of athletics performances."

Fellow Briton Radcliffe, 43, said: "I fully understand the desire and need to restore credibility to our sport but don't feel that this achieves that. It is yet one more way that clean athletes are made to suffer for the actions of cheats."

Coe, who attended the Council meeting in Paris, said: "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 IAAF is expected to approve the proposal in July and it is likely to come into effect within the next 12 months.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 03, 2017, with the headline 'Athletes angry at plans to erase world records'. Print Edition | Subscribe