Belfast Telegraph

Dame Mary is urging Coe to shun plans to reset records


By Robert Jones

Northern Ireland's Olympic great Dame Mary Peters has called on 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 forward them to the IAAF and its president Sebastian Coe has "welcomed the debate" caused by European Athletics' controversial proposals.

Dame Mary won gold in the 1972 Olympics pentathlon and 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 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.

Kelly Sotherton believes athletics should "create a new slate" by tweaking the events rather than throwing out the existing world records.

Sotherton, who competed in the heptathlon and 4x400m relay, retired in 2012 with one Olympic bronze medal to her name, but has recently been upgraded to two more bronze medals after rivals at Beijing 2008 failed drugs tests when their samples were re-analysed.

She said: "Some of the records are completely out there, like (Florence Griffith-Joyner's) 100m and 200m records, and (Marita Koch's) 400m, but not all of those were achieved by people who cheated.

"Scrapping those records is unfair on those athletes. Perhaps we could change the events, though. We did it for javelin in the 1980s. Could we go back to yards or run 101 metres instead of 100 metres? We create a new slate and have new records."

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph