Athletics world records could be rewritten

Svein Arne Hansen
European Athletics president Svein Arne Hansen ordered the review in January

Most of athletics' world records could be rewritten under a "revolutionary" new proposal from European Athletics.

It set up a taskforce to examine the credibility of records in January following the sport's doping scandal.

British world record holders like Paula Radcliffe and Jonathan Edwards could lose their titles under the criteria.

Svein Arne Hansen, the European Athletics president, said world records "are meaningless if people don't really believe them".

European Athletics' ruling council has now ratified the proposals put forward by the taskforce and wants the sport's world governing body, the IAAF, to adopt the changes it sets out.

If the proposals are accepted by the IAAF, world records would only be recognised if:

  • It was achieved at a competition on a list of approved international events where the highest standards of officiating and technical equipment can be guaranteed;
  • The athlete had been subject to an agreed number of doping control tests in the months leading up to it;
  • The doping control sample taken after the record was stored and available for re-testing for 10 years.

The council also recommended that a performance should be wiped from record books if the athlete had committed a "doping or integrity violation, even if it does not directly impact the record performance".

The proposals are a response to last year's McLaren report, which uncovered widespread doping in sport - and athletics in particular. Russian athletes are currently banned from international competition unless they can satisfy strict criteria to show they are clean.

More than 100 Olympic athletes who competed at the 2008 and 2012 Games have been sanctioned for doping after the International Olympic Committee embarked on a programme of retesting old samples.

"There are records in which people in the sport, the media and the public do not have complete confidence," added taskforce chair Pierce O'Callaghan.

'A step in the right direction'

Colin Jackson
Colin Jackson, who held the 110m hurdles record for 10 years, set the record for the 60m indoor hurdles in 1994

The IAAF has stored blood and urine samples only since 2005 and current records that do not meet the new criteria would remain on an "all-time list", but not be officially recognised as records.

This would include Edwards' triple jump record of 18.29m - set in 1995 - and Colin Jackson's 1994 indoor 60m hurdles world record of 6.30secs, as well as Radcliffe's marathon mark of 2 hours 17 minutes and 18 seconds.

Radcliffe has previously criticised plans to wipe records from the books and last month told On Events Sport she favoured making doping a criminal offence instead, to deter cheats.

However, IAAF president Sebastian Coe said the changes were "a step in the right direction".

"There will be athletes, current record holders, who will feel that the history we are recalibrating will take something away from them, but if organised and structured properly we have a good chance of winning back credibility in this area," he said.

European Athletics president Hansen said he would encourage the IAAF to adopt the proposal at its August council meeting.

"What we are proposing is revolutionary and not just because most world and European records will have to be replaced," Hansen added.

"We want to raise the standards for recognition to a point where everyone can be confident that everything is fair and above board".


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