Proposals to scrap all athletics world records set before 2005 have been defended amid a hostile reaction from competitors, such as Paula Radcliffe, who could see their achievements discarded.
A European Athletics taskforce, established in January to consider the credibility of records following the sport’s doping scandal, put forward its recommendations which have been ratified by its ruling council.
The changes, which could see all pre-2005 records re-written, now need to be adopted by world governing body the IAAF.
“There is a bigger picture out there,” said European Athletics taskforce chair Pierce O’Callaghan. “Apologies to the athletes, we never intended to damage their reputation and legacy.
“It is intended to give the public belief and credibility in what they are watching in the sport.”
Should the proposals be accepted by the IAAF, a world record would only be recognised if it meets strict criteria, including the doping control sample taken after the record being stored and available for re-testing for 10 years. The IAAF has only stored blood and urine samples since 2005.
The achievements which do not meet the new criteria would remain on an all-time list but not be officially recognised as records.
Triple jumper Jonathan Edwards, sprinter Colin Jackson and long-distance runner Radcliffe are all in danger of losing world records. Radcliffe has described the taskforce 'splans as “cowardly”.
“Unfortunately Paula ran her records in a golden period that happens to be two years before the technology moved on,” added O’Callaghan.
“People should not look at Paula’s records and throw them in with doping records – she achieved her performance, as did Jonathan, with 100 per cent integrity.
“This is about the bigger picture of reform in athletics and ensuring the public in events like the London World Championships [in August], that they can believe what they are watching.”