There is no getting away from the fact that in recent years the main talking point surrounding the sport of athletics is the doping scandal. Athletes taking performance enhancing substances to give themselves an unfair advantage has dominated headlines. Amidst the media reports, the sport’s governing body European Athletics has come up with a controversial new proposal.
In January, the group set up a taskforce whose job it is to examine the credibility of world records before 2005. European Athletics president, Svein Arne Hansen said that world records “are meaningless if people don’t really believe them”.
In a move that has been received by widespread criticism by former athletes, the body has proposed that all athletics world records prior to 2005 be wiped from the record books. It is down to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), of which Champions speaker Seb Coe is president, to either accept or reject the recommendations.
If they are accepted by the IAAF, a world record would only be recognised if they meet specific criteria. These include:
- 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.
A number of British athletes would be affected if these records were to end up being rewritten. This includes former world recorder sprinter and hurdler Colin Jackson. Colin held the 110m hurdles record for almost 13 years and still holds the 60m indoor hurdles record which he set in 1994.
Criticising the proposed changes, he said:
“All athletes set out to achieve and when we achieve medals, that is fantastic, that is our primary objective. When you break records, it is the icing on the cake. For them to say all of a sudden, ‘we aren’t sure if your record was done in a legal fashion, so we don’t want you having the record… but you can keep all your medals’, it is clearly quite ridiculous in my mind.”
Jonathan Edwards’ triple jump record of 18.29m which he set in 1995 would also be under threat as is Paula Radcliffe’s 2003 marathon record.
This issue is sure to be a topic of conversation for many weeks to come and here at the Champions Olympic Speakers agency, we have a whole host of former athletes who can offer their expert opinions on the latest issues in the sport. If you would like to book an Olympic speaker for your function, call us on +44 1509 85 29 27 or fill out our online booking form.