In a story from the Gazetteherald.co.uk, it was noted that Paula Radcliffe, the World Record holder in the marahton, would support the plan by Svein Arne Hansen, president of the European Athletics Association, to consider which records to clear off the European records books. She would also welcome involvement in the discussions.
This comes from a recent letter by Gianni Merlo of AIPS to Seb Coe, requesting that the IAAF clear all the records. Per Merlo, this would 'clear all suspicions ' on some records, dating back to DDR (East Germany) days, when doping aids were suspect in many records.
The question is, how to clear records?
If an Australian distance runner went to London, and destroyed the world record for 10,000 meters by 36.2 seconds, every media group in the world would, in less than 24 hours, accusse said athlete of doping. Yet, in 1965, Ron Clarke did just that! He would break World records seventeen times, matching the great Finnish runner Paavo Nurmi. Clarke was, and is, one of our sports most extraordinary athletes.
In the current climate, all records are suspect, but they should not be.
I worked for Derek Clayton, the first man to run under 2:12, 2:11, 2:10 and 2:09 in the marathon. Derek told me that his body was never the same after his 2:08:34. Having the fortunate luck to work for Derek for several years, I came to appreciate that the drive that made him go for the World record, the drive that made him train over 160 miles a week, also wiped him out. He had taken more out of his body that he had put in.
Interesting side note was that Ron Clarke and Derek Clayton trained together and built a bit of a real estate empire in the evenings after their training. I was fortunate to share a few hours with Mr. Clarke and Mr. Clayton one year at Boston. What a treat. The admiration and affection that they had for each other could be seen even with their Australian sense of humor.
I feel the same for Paula Radcliffe. My most vehement anti doping fans all note that Paula Radcliffe ran her 2:15 clearn. I look at the results of that race on her body and her psyche and have few if any questions about her cheating. Radcliffe tore her body up to run 2:15:25.
Records, someone said, were made to be broken. Some of the records in European, World and American, at current standards, will not see a new record, unless they are reassessed.
I believe that Arne Hansen's plan to consider all records and look at which ones make no sense, is the smartest way to go.
Building credibility back in the sport makes a ton of sense. The EAA is starting in the right direction.