Proposal to rewrite athletics world records endorsed by European Athletics

Photo: diegoden09/Flickr

Photo: diegoden09/Flickr

02.05.2017

By Mads A. Wickstrøm
Athletics world records may be erased following recommendations made by European Athletics task force.

At a European Athletics Council meeting in Paris, 28-30 April, the European Records Credibility Project Team’s report was given unanimous approval of the Council members.

It was agreed that the report, which calls for higher technical standards, new personal integrity requirements for record holders and increased doping control measures, will be forwarded to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) so the two organisations can coordinate efforts to implement new record ratification rules, European Athletics writes in a statement following the meeting in Paris.

Under the new standards, proposed by the European Athletics task force, world and European records can only be recognised if  meeting three criteria:

1) The performance is achieved at competitions on a list of approved international events where the highest standards of officiating and technical equipment can be guaranteed and;

2) The athlete has been subject to an agreed number of doping control tests in the months leading up to the performance and;

3) The doping control sample taken after the record is stored and available for re-testing for 10 years.

Furthermore, athletes must meet the three criteria, even if their records were recognised prior to the implementation of the new criteria, if their records are to continue to be recognised.

“What we are proposing is revolutionary,” Svein Arne Hansen, European Athletics president, said after the meeting.

“Not just because most world and European records will have to be replaced but because we want to change the concept of a record and raise the standards for recognition a point where everyone can be confident that everything is fair and above board,” Arne Hansen added.

Sebastian Coe, IAAF President, supported the recommendations made by the European Athletics task force underlining the need to restore credibility in sport.

“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,” Coe said according to Inside the games.

However, despite the endorsement made by European Athletics and Sebastian Coe, some reacted to the news of the approval of the recommendations made by the European Athletics task force with less enthusiasm. World marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe, who fears for her 2003 record, was the first athlete to criticize European Athletics “heavy-handed” proposal.

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

“Although we are moving forward, I don’t believe we are yet at the point where we have a testing procedure capable of catching every cheat out there, so why reset at this point? Do we really believe a record set in 2015 is totally clean and one in 1995 not?” Radcliffe added.

The European Athletics council also accepted recommendations to revoke a series of Athletics Coach of the Year Awards as well as a number of European Athlete of the Year Awards.

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