Track records became so distorted with presumptive doping, that officials now talk about keeping a set of double records: presumably steroid and then presumably clean. Very good story in the Indy Star today. (also this link to Track and Field News)
The sport appears to be addressing how PEDs (performance enhancing drugs; or APEDs (appearance +PED) affect the top performances, and how that cheat clean athletes attempting to break those records.
So many records in track and field are implausible, presumably because of undetected doping, that they are out of reach.Unlike baseball, which is stuck with bloated home run figures from a steroid era, track has the authority to clean the slate. Governing bodies have invalidated records set by athletes caught using drugs.
For instance we carried a story concerning Sanya Richards who ran a 48.7 last year. The world record -- felt to be tainted -- is held by Marita Koch of East Germany at 47.6. Can a 'clean' athlete (especially in women's track) beat these old tainted records?
As the AT&T USA Track and Field Championships come to Indianapolis this week, world records are mostly out of the question. Women, especially, have as good a chance of capturing ghosts as they do of breaking world records."It is disappointing to step on the track and know for the next year or two, your time probably won't compare to the world record," American sprinter Sanya Richards said.Richards is aiming at the 22-year-old record of 47.60 seconds in the 400 meters held by Marita Koch. Koch represented East Germany, which had a systematic doping program that was uncovered in files of Stasi, the secret police, and published in Germany.
Several years ago, German officials proposed a bifurcation of records: tainted v. untainted:
In 1999, Germany proposed that "records of the new millennium" be created. A congress of the IAAF, the sport's international governing body, rejected the idea.Yet the notion is kept alive by reformers such as Gianni Merlo, chairman of the IAAF press commission, who favors a new list of records. Garry Hill, editor of Track & Field News, supports introduction of old and new millennium records."Go to a bifurcated system," Hill wrote in an e-mail. "Give the sport back its thrill of the world record chase, but at the same time, don't disenfranchise all the fair-playing greats who went before."Records set by women from the former Soviet bloc, or by Chinese distance runners in the 1990s, aren't the only ones to which circumstantial evidence is applied. Florence Griffith-Joyner's 100-meter time of 10.49, set at Indianapolis in 1988, is widely viewed with suspicion, partly because of doubt about the wind reading. "FloJo" never failed a drug test.
There are issues with track records, that need to be considered:
Two issues that shouldn't be lost in the debate are these:Records are rare in track and field, and always have been. Jesse Owens long jumped 26 feet, 81/4 inches in 1935, and the record lasted 25 years. Bob Beamon jumped 29-21/2 in 1968, and the record lasted 23 years. Sebastian Coe ran 800 meters in 1:41.73 in 1981, and the record lasted 16 years.As Craig Masback, CEO of USA Track & Field, put it in an e-mail:"This contrasts to a sport like swimming, where they are still on an aggressive growth curve in terms of adding new participant countries (and where changes in pool and swimsuit technologies have also helped athletes get faster)."Revising records would be as much an attempt to build fan interest as it would be to make right the marks that were wrongly achieved. For instance, no one else in this century has come within 11/2 feet of Jonathan Edwards' 60-foot triple jump from 1995. No one suggests the squeaky-clean Edwards was doping."He landed straight up and down like a pogo stick, with no flexion," marveled Mike Conley, the 1992 Olympic champion in the triple jump. "I would have just crumbled to the ground."Just as there are ancient and modern Olympics, Conley said, the sport's eras could be divided and have records for each."We need a shot in the arm somewhere," said Conley, who is trying to help lure the 2016 Olympics to Chicago. "That is definitely a concept that we should look at."A convenient way to amend some records is to change weights of implements (shot, discus, hammer) or to raise heights of women's hurdles.That wouldn't address other events. Moreover, unless drug testing improves, a new record book could still include drug-tainted marks.
Old v. New records after the jump. This is really a good article.The International Olympic Committee has made no attempt to strip medals won by East German athletes. The IOC, which has the power to annul results going back eight years, recently opened an investigation into possible doping in cycling at previous Olympics.Meanwhile, female athletes are stuck looking at records seemingly taken off the Sci Fi Channel. Richards, for one, sounds undaunted in pursuit of Koch's time.Richards met Koch for the first time last year in Monte Carlo at a gala in which Richards was recognized as the world's Athlete of the Year. Richards' best is 48.70, which would have put her 9 meters behind Koch.Richards conceded that the issue is "touchy" but said she has examined Koch's race and believes she, too, can break 48 seconds. Anyway, Richards said, that is the record."And I'm going to keep my eyes focused on it," she said. "And hopefully, one day I'll be the world record-holder."
Records: old school vs. new school
Event Old time New time 200 meters 19.32, Michael Johnson, USA, 1996 19.63, Xavier Caron, USA, 2006 Pole vault 20-13/4, Sergey Bubka, Ukraine, 1994 19-101/4, Dmitri Markov, Australia, 2001 Triple jump 60-01/4, Jonathan Edwards, Britain, 1995 58-91/2, Edwards, 2001 Shot put 75-101/4, Randy Barnes, USA, 1990 74-41/2, Kevin Toth, USA, 2003
Event Old time New time 100 meters 10.49, Florence Griffith-Joyner, USA, 1988 10.75, Marion Jones, USA, 2000 200 meters 21.34, Griffith-Joyner, 1988 22.00, Sherone Simpson, Jamaica, 2006 400 meters 47.60, Marita Koch, East Germany, 1985 48.70, Sanya Richards, USA, 2006 800 meters 1:53.28, Jarmila Kratochvilova, Czech, 1983 1:55.19, Jolanda Ceplak, Slovenia, 2002 1,500 meters 3:50.46, Qu Yunxia, China, 1993 3:55.33, Sureyya Ayhan, Turkey, 2003 Long jump 24-81/4, Galina Chistyakova, USSR, 1988 24-41/4, Tatyana Kotova, Russia, 2002 Shot put 74-3, Natalya Lisovskaya, USSR, 1987 70-5, Larisa Peleshenko, Russia, 2000 Discus 252-0, Gabriele Reinsch, East Germany, 1988 226-10, Irina Yatchenko, Belarus, 2004