IAAF president Seb Coe backing plans to erase world records, says UK Athletics chief Ed Warner

IAAF president Seb Coe is in favour of erasing world records in international athletics set by suspected drugs cheats, according to UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner.

UK Athletics has announced a campaign for clean athletics including resetting every single world record due to the sport’s doping crisis, and says it will seek to bring in a lifetime ban for any athlete guilty of a serious drugs violation.

Warner said he spoke to Coe earlier yesterday and the president of international athletics had told him he favoured erasing some individual records instead.

Suspicious world records include the women’s 200m time of 21.34 seconds set by Florence Griffiths-Joyner in 1988, the men’s shot-put by American Randy Barnes in 1990 — he was later banned for life for steroids — and the women’s 400 metres record set in 1985 by East Germany’s Marita Koch.

Koch never tested positive but East Germany ran a state-organised doping system and data released in 1992 suggested she was among many athletes who had doped. There were also big suspicions surrounding Griffiths-Joyner, who died aged 38.

Warner said: “I met Seb Coe today and he told me he is in favour of picking off those records that are clearly wrong.

“If he can do that, then wonderful and let’s get on with it. We believe all world records should be reset once the necessary measures have been brought in.

“We have the situation now where the 1990 men’s shot-put record is still held by someone who was banned for life. 

“The difficulty is picking which records are wrong — for example Flo-Jo never failed a drugs test. 

“But there are many records which are simply unachievable by today’s standards.” 

Warner added that world records should not be allowed to stand if set by anyone guilty of a serious doping violation.

The British Olympic Association was defeated when it went to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2012 to try to maintain its lifetime ban for drugs cheats, but Warner said he is prepared to go to court again for UK Athletics to ban for life those guilty of serious doping violations.

“I don’t think it is unachievable,” said Warner. “We want to see what we can do. If we have this fight to try to protect our clean athletes, then I would rather fail than not try at all.” 

UK Athletics has published ‘A Manifesto for Clean Athletics’ after the doping scandal that has seen Russia banned from international athletics, with allegations that former IAAF officials also took money to cover up positive tests from Turkish and Moroccan athletes. 

Kenya, one of the most high-profile countries in distance running, is also at the centre of doping-related allegations.

Warner added: “Greater transparency, tougher sanctions, longer bans — and even resetting the clock on world records for a new era — we should be open to do whatever it takes to restore credibility in the sport.” Other proposals include:

  • Sponsors not supporting athletes guilty of serious doping offences.
  • The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) setting up a public global register of all drugs tests so that the times and places of tests undertaken by all athletes are open to scrutiny.
  • All lottery-funded athletes in Britain should agree to have their tests available on a public register maintained by UK Anti-Doping.
  • WADA should tighten up the process around the granting of Therapeutic Use Exemptions to athletes.
  • All athletes competing in world championships should have a valid blood/biological passport.

UK Athletics has also announced it will retain the Performance Oversight Committee (POC) as an independent watchdog of its practices following its review into the Oregon Project — the set-up run by Mo Farah’s coach, Alberto Salazar, commissioned following allegations by the BBC’s Panorama programme that the coach had violated anti-doping rules.

Dick Pound, the chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) independent commission, is to announce the second part of the findings of his investigation into the IAAF and Russia on Thursday at a news conference in Munich.

The IAAF formally responded on Monday to Pound’s first report, insisting “only a very small number of individuals formerly associated with the IAAF are believed to have been involved in the alleged corruption”.

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