(Reuters) - A proposal to rewrite the world record books because of doping concerns has been met with “mixed reactions”, acknowledged Svein Arne Hansen, president of European Athletics which put forward the idea.
European Athletics proposes rewriting all world records set before 2005 after the credibility of records was thrown into doubt by the sport’s doping scandal. Since then athletics’ world governing body, IAAF, has stored blood and urine samples.
Some athletes, including world record holders like British marathon runner Paula Radcliffe, have said the plan is heavy-handed. Hansen said he was sympathetic to their concerns.
“We are satisfied that we have already achieved our primary aim of initiating a long-overdue and inclusive conversation on this important and emotive topic,” he said, noting how EA had been contacted by many current and former athletes.
“As might have been expected, the reactions have been mixed.”
The recommendations have a long way to go before being ratified, though they have support from some influential voices in the sport, including IAAF president Sebastian Coe.
“There is certainly consensus ... that the current record lists are problematic, that few people have confidence in all the European and World Records and that something substantial needs to be done to correct the situation,” Hansen said.
“Most controversy comes from some of the current record holders who, of course, would be personally affected by the proposed reassignment of record recognition. We must be aware of and sympathetic to their concerns.”
Britain’s Radcliffe, who could lose her 2003 marathon world record, said has she was “hurt” by the proposals which she called “cowardly”. She said the governing bodies had “again failed clean athletes”.
Coe, though, last week said he welcomed the debate.
“I do think we have to start somewhere,” he said.
Hansen said there was support too for other measures, including conditions for future records. They include records being set in designated competitions, record holders being subject to a minimum number of doping control tests in the year before the record, and for an athlete’s doping control sample to be stored for re-testing for 10 years.
Coe acknowledges more work is needed before the proposals are forwarded to the IAAF Council for discussion at its meeting in late July, just before the world championships in London.
Reporting by Ian Chadband; editing by Richard Lough