The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

The European Plan to Reset Records

Jul 3rd, 2017
1:10 pm PST

Me for Blog picThere has been a suggestion from European Athletics to reset the track and field record book to only allow records that conform to the sport’s current standard of taking and storing blood and urine so that either or both can be tested post record for new drugs and methods of doping discovered after the record has been ratified. This would effectively eliminate any and all records set before 2005!

While I understand the frustration of the many doping scandals that have rocked the sport in recent years. The proposal set forth by European Athletics does not fix the core issue – which frankly has been the lax, and often complicit, attitude of the sport’s governing body towards eradicating doping in the sport. And instead focuses misplaced anger and punishment on innocent athletes. As such, this proposal should be completely discarded. While it "could" eliminate "some" records that many of us know in our heart of hearts are illegitimate, it "most certainly" will get rid of, and punish, innocent athletes and records! We’re talking about throwing out the baby with the bath water when only the water is dirty! The sport cannot do this and maintain any sense of legitimacy as a sport. To follow this line of logic would be an abject travesty!

Do I question records from the Eastern Bloc that have existed since the eighties when we know from their own records that doping was prevalent? Absolutely! But why can’t we simply create a rule stating that admission of doping of any kind – in this case the discovery of written records – will result in immediate removal of records from the books?

Do I question the 100 meter record set by FloJo in Indianapolis in 1988? Yes I do. If for no other reason than the fact that on a day when everything else was windy it was the ONLY event that mysteriously registered a 0.0 wind! That logic alone should render that particular mark moot – and should’ve at the time.

My point here is simple, if we truly take a look at the record book, we can create "legitimate" rules to eliminate the obvious discrepancies that exist. 

Because while I would love to see the obvious removed, I refuse to go on the attack against athletes like Jonathon Edwards, Mike Powell, Hicham ElGuerrouj, Javier Sotomayor, and Paula Radcliffe among others. And we’re not just talking about the records but the all time lists, because if, for example, you remove Kevin Young as WR holder in the 400H you can’t replace him with Edwin Moses, Bryon Bronson, Samuel Matete, Andre Phillips, or Amadou dia Ba! How freaking ridiculous is THAT?

The European solution is lazy and misguided. It’s an attempt to be pious and politically correct. IF we’re going to clean up the record book, we need to take a scalpel to it, not a meat cleaver. We KNOW what the problems are. The solution I vocalized above would remedy most of them! Because the real issue is the fact that most women’s records are out of reach due to the rampant doping of women during the 80’s and 90’s. Let’s fix THAT.

And let’s start putting pressure on the leadership of the IAAF. Jamaica went YEARS without an anti doping agency or even legitimate testing facilities – with the blessing of the IAAF. We read that Lord Coe’s office was aware of what was taking place in Russia and discussed a cover up. Kenya’s testing issues have been known for years. These are but a few of the well known issues regarding testing that have not been dealt with properly by the IAAF. That as much as anything is a problem historically when looking at the potential impact on the record book.

The bottom line is this. There are better ways to "fix" the record book. The IAAF, instead of taking this ridiculous proposal and implementing it, needs to form a commission to explore more strategic ways (see above) to bring the record book into better conformity.

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