Belfast Telegraph

Dame Mary Peters urges Seb Coe to reject plans to rewrite athletics' record books and 'not to punish the innocent'

Northern Ireland's Olympic great Dame Mary Peters has urged the world athletics chief to reject a plan to retire records set before 2005 and not to "punish the innocent".

European Athletics announced on Monday that its ruling Council had accepted a project team's recommendations to overhaul the record lists by eliminating any doping doubts surrounding performances.

It said it would now forward them to the IAAF and its president Sebastian Coe has "welcomed the debate" caused by European Athletics' controversial proposals.

Dame Mary Peters won a gold in the 1972 Olympics pentathlon and also won three Commonwealth titles for Northern Ireland.

She still holds the world record for the pentathlon which was replaced by the heptathlon in the 1980s.

Speaking at the Sport Resolutions annual conference in London, she said: “I hope he’ll listen to people like me and not take away records from those who have earned them. My plea today is not to punish the innocent and take away their records but to get after the cheats.”

Under the new rules, all pre-2005 records could be rewritten, which need to be ratified by governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

As several European records are also world records, the working group consulted the IAAF and the world governing body's president Lord Coe.

These plans will now be forwarded to the IAAF "with the recommendation that the two organisations co-ordinate the implementation of new record ratification rules".

The IAAF Council is expected to discuss the European rules at its next meeting in London on July 31, five days before the start of the 2017 World Championships.

If the proposals are accepted by the IAAF, a world record would only be recognised if it meets three specific criteria.

It must have been 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 must also have 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 retesting for 10 years.

The proposals have been met with disgust by some former British athletes.

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