Svein Arne Hansen at the European Athletics Convention (© Getty Images)
The European Athletics Council has accepted a project team’s recommendations that would lead to the rewriting of the world and European records lists.
The project team’s report, which calls for higher technical standards, increased doping control measures and new personal integrity requirements for record holders, will be forwarded to the IAAF with the recommendation that the two organisations coordinate the implementation of new record ratification rules.
Speaking after the Council’s meeting in Paris, from 28 to 30 April, President Svein Arne Hansen said: “Performance records that show the limits of human capabilities are one of the great strengths of our sport, but they are meaningless if people don’t really believe them.
“What we are proposing is revolutionary, not just because most world and European records will have to be replaced but because we want to change the concept of a record and raise the standards for recognition to a point where everyone can be confident that everything is fair and above board.”
The standards proposed by the project team include that world and European records can only be recognised if 1) the performance is achieved at competitions on a list of approved international events where the highest standards of officiating and technical equipment can be guaranteed, 2) the athlete has been subject to an agreed number of doping control tests in the months leading up to the performance, and 3) the doping control sample taken after the record is stored and available for retesting for 10 years.
The project team also recommended that record recognition be withdrawn at any time if the athlete commits a doping or integrity violation, even if it does not directly impact the record performance.
Current records not established in accordance with the agreed standards will remain on the all-time list but recognition will be transferred to performances that meet the criteria.
“It’s a radical solution for sure, but those of us who love athletics are tired of the cloud of doubt and innuendo that has hung over our records for too long,” said Hansen. “We need decisive action to restore credibility and trust and I want to thank the project team, led by Pierce O’Callaghan, for their great work in showing us a way forward.
“This will now go to the IAAF Council Meeting in August and on behalf of European Athletics I will be encouraging them to adopt this proposal,” said Hansen. “In the meantime we will be checking with our legal advisors to make sure the new rules will stand up to any challenges that might come.”
IAAF President Sebastian Coe, who attended the final session of the meeting together with other European members of the IAAF Council, said: “I like this because it underlines that we [the governing bodies] have put into place doping control systems and technology that are more robust and safer than 15 or even 10 years ago.
“Of course, for this to be adopted for world records by the IAAF it needs global approval from all area associations. There will be athletes, current record holders, who will feel that the history we are recalibrating will take something away from them but I think this is a step in the right direction and if organised and structured properly we have a good chance of winning back credibility in this area.”
The European Athletics Council also accepted recommendations to revoke a number of European Athlete of the Year Awards and European Athletics Coaching Awards, subject to legal review.
The Project Team Report on the credibility of European Records can be viewed in English, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish.