by ELLIOTT DENMAN
SACRAMENTO – The very good news is that Francena McCorory took a giant leap from 65th place to 32nd on the all-time charts for the women’s 400-meter race.
And from 14th to 5th on the all-time American women’s one-lap listings.
And from 31st to 11th on the list of the top performances of the 21st century.
It took just 49.48 seconds for this to happen as the feature performance on a sun-splashed Saturday afternoon at the USA Outdoor Championships at Sacramento State University’s Hornet Stadium.
But the very unfortunate not-really-news is that good as she’s getting, fast as she’s improving, Hampton (Va.) University graduate McCorory’s chances of seriously zeroing in on the world record for the 400 remain exactly where they’ve always been – or have been for going on to 29 years – and that’s exactly zero.
When Marita Koch of East Germany ran the lap in 47.60 back on the 20th of October 1985 in Canberra, Australia, it was one for the books and one for the ages.
No one’s come within less than half a second of that performance for the past 19 years.
And so it’s time to raise the tired, old question all over again:
Given the German Democratic Republic/East Germany’s well documented record of doping abuses – complete with documentation of when and where dosages were administered – isn’t it time to press the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) to take its head out of the sand and admit to the world that such performances as Koch’s 47.60 (and Czech Jarmila Kratochvilova’s 1:53.28 800 in 1983) were not so much the products of superior training and superior coaching and a superior system of national of governace but of better (and faster) living through chemistry?
Sure it is time, but why can’t the bigs of the IAAF be swayed from their long-held and politically (in)correct stance that every statute of limitations has passed and they’re not ever going to make any changes?
Very good news in our sport is that the drug sleuths are finding ways to go farther and farther back into old results to make changes when long-unrevealed drug abuses are uncovered.
Didn’t it take nearly a decade for justice to be done and Adam Nelson awarded the 2004 Olympic shot put gold medal when a perpetrator was at last revealed?
So what’s the difference, really, between that and amending the charts for such events as the women’s 400 and 800?
(And maybe – just to make the point that this isn’t total USA chauvinism – such marks as the men’s shot put record, too – the 75-10 Â¼ by USA’s Randy Barnes in 1990, before his lifetime banishment from the sport for drug offenses.)
McCorory was all joy as she crossed the line at Hornet Stadium – and saw the 49.48 flashed up on the big video board.
Sandra Richards-Ross, whose 48.70 has stood as the women’s American record since 2006, was pretty excited, as well, with her 49.66. It was the perfect proof that – after an array of injuries – she’s finally regaining her old form.
In places 3-4-5, Natasha Hastings (50.53), Jessica Beard (50.81) and Dee Dee Trotter (51.04) were no slouches, either.
As currently constituted, the all-time world list for the women shows Koch (47.60 in 1985) atop; Kraochvilova’s 47.99 in 1983 in second, and Marie-Jose Perec’s 48.25 for France in 1996 in third.
But all those are so 20th Century.
Since Jan. 1, 2000, Richards’ 48.70 AR in 2006 tops the charts, with Ana Guevara of Mexico (48.89 in 2003) and Tonique Williams-Darling of Bahamas (49.07 in 2006) holding the 2-3 spots.
Richards-Ross, of course, continues to top the all-time USA list at 48.70 but Valerie Brisco-Hooks (48.83) and Chandra Cheeseborough (49.05), both at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, and Jearl Miles-Clark (49.40 in 1997) are the only other Americans now officially faster than McCorory.
“I ran my lights out today,” exulted McCorory.
“It was also great running against a great field and (when) you know the times will be good, it is more motivation.”
“I felt my race went really well,” declared Richards-Ross. “I went out hard and got in striking distance. And I am very proud of my friend (McCorory) today getting a PR.”
Well, PRs are always good news but WRs are always better.
Sure, folks, but we’re never destined to see another WR in Francena McCorory’s favorite event until the IAAF concedes that nearly 29 years of obfuscation, of playing ostrich, are enough, already.