Pre-2005 world records to be wiped out under proposal
MANCHESTER, England (AP) The man spearheading a proposal to wipe out all world records achieved in athletics before 2005 says it will mark the start of a ''new, clean, credible era'' for a sport tainted by doping scandals.
''It's just the evolution of the sport,'' Pierce O'Callaghan, chairman of the European Athletics task force, told The Associated Press on Tuesday. ''We had feet and inches, changed from miles to kilometers, hand timing to electronic timing. All of those different areas forced a recalibration of the records. This is just a recalibration for the 21st century.''
World-record holders such as former marathon runner Paula Radcliffe and ex-triple jumper Jonathan Edwards have reacted with dismay following European Athletics' announcement that its ruling council had accepted a project team's recommendations to rewrite world and European record lists.
The European body said it would now forward the recommendations to the IAAF for ratification in July, ahead of the world championship in London. IAAF president Sebastian Coe said it was a ''step in the right direction.''
Under the new standards, described as ''radical'' by European Athletics president Svein Arne Hansen, a world record would only be recognized if the performance met three criteria: 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; and the doping control sample taken after the record was stored and available for re-testing for 10 years.
The IAAF only started storing and retesting blood and urine samples in 2005, so any records achieved prior to that date wouldn't pass the test.
Records not meeting the criteria would remain on the all-time list but no longer be officially recognized as records.
''There has been a huge appetite to regain the public trust, to close a chapter and move on with a new cleaner, more believable sport than there has been in the past,'' O'Callaghan said in a phone interview.
Getting the proposal approved by the IAAF before the world championship from Aug. 5-13 would, according to O'Callaghan, fuel ''the general belief that the world championship in London is the ''Redemption World Championship.''
Radcliffe, who broke the women's marathon record in 2003, said the proposal was ''disrespectful to those athletes whose marks are iconic in history.''
''It's unfair to make those clean athletes suffer again at the hands of cheats, because during our careers, we have had to compete against people that we have heavily suspected or known were cheating,'' she said Tuesday.
''We have lost out on moments, medals, and career earnings as well. And now we'd lose out again just because of the actions of people who chose to cheat, have already damaged our sport, and now are damaging us again.''
O'Callaghan said he understood that the world-record holders affected would be ''up in arms over a decision made by blazers'' but that ''no aspersions were being cast on their performances.''
''They are worried, quite rightly, that their achievements are being besmirched, which they are not,'' he told the AP. ''It's just very unfortunate that the criteria which we have proposed wasn't existing in 2003 when Paula did her time.''
O'Callaghan, an Irish official who is also head of operations for the 2017 world championships, said the initial desire of the taskforce was to focus on ''questionable records,'' particularly from athletes who have been caught doping. But he said it was necessary to have a ''one size fits all.''
Some of the reaction from Britain, O'Callaghan said, has been negative because there are many ''iconic names still holding world records,'' such as Radcliffe, Edwards from 1995 and Colin Jackson in the indoor 60-meter hurdles in 1994.
''The main feedback from Europe is strong support,'' he said, ''that it's long overdue and it's about time, and a great move to improve the credibility of the sport.''
European Athletics set up the task force in January�to look into the credibility of world records, many of which were set in the 1980s when there was no out-of-competition testing.
''It underlines,'' Coe said, ''that we (governing bodies) have put into place doping-control systems and technology that are more robust and safer than 15 or even 10 years ago.''
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80