UK Athletics wants records erased, new era to overcome doping crisis

Britain's federation UK Athletics (UKA) on Monday recommended resetting world records in order to start a new and clean era in the sport but one of its own athletic heroes hit out against the plan.

UKA published "A Manifesto for Clean Athletics" in which, apart from new records, it also recommends a public global register of all drug tests and stiffer sanctions for drug cheats.

The manifesto came three days before Thursday's planned release of the second part of a WADA independent commission report on doping in athletics.

There was cautious backing for the plans from the German athletics federation DLV with president Clemens Prokop telling the Rheinischen Post paper: "We support in principle the goal of setting new trends with new record lists."

But women's marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe, one of two British world record holders in Olympic disciplines alongside triple jumper Jonathan Edwards, was vehemently opposed.

“Without doubt you are going to punish innocent athletes and why are you going to do it again when they have already had to compete against cheats during their career? I feel that innocent athletes have suffered enough at the hands of drugs cheats," she told Britain's Guardian newspaper.

"I’ll never agree with the records being wiped because I know 100 per cent that at least one of those records was achieved clean and that means more were too," she added.

After a first report from late last year, Russia was banned from the ruling body IAAF over widespread doping and its athletes could also miss competing at the summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Former IAAF president Lamine Diack is under criminal investigation in France, and his son as well as the former Russian athletics chief are banned for life by the IAAF ethics committee for extortion to cover up positive doping tests of a Russian athlete.

"The integrity of athletics was challenged as never before in 2015. Clean athletes and sports fans the world over have been let down," UKA chairman Ed Warner said.

"UKA believes the time has come for radical reform if we are to help restore trust in the sport. Athletics needs to act very differently if we are to move on from the crisis facing the sport.

"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."

Warner said the manifesto should be just one of many contributions because "what matters now is that athletics faces up to the scale of the problem facing the sport and is brave enough to take the tough and radical steps to ensure its long term health - however difficult they may be."

Mandatory blood passports for athletes competing at major championships were also recommended, with at least the 10 leading nations to have them for their athletes at next year's world championships in London.

Member federations should be held accountable and reimburse prize money for athletes who are banned; companies should not sponsor athletes who doped; and bans for serious first-time offenders doubled to eight years.

In addition, UKA wants to look into whether life bans can be imposed on British athletes who commit a serious first offence.

Looking at the records, the manifest said "to call to the IAAF to investigate the implications of drawing a line under all pre-existing sport records – for example, by adjusting event rules – and commencing a new set of records based on performances in the new Clean Athletics era."

Using new rules could be the only way for a new set of records as up to now only records of doped athletes have been scrapped.

Germany, for legal reasons, did not erase national records in the reunified country which were set by possibly doped East German athletes. However, German sports lawyers and former WADA chief Dick Pound have disputed this and suggested records can be erased in the event of other evidence.

All eyes will be on Pound again in Thursday when he, as head of the WADA commission, releases the latest report which he said will contain "a wow factor."

The report is to deal with corruption within the IAAF and reports from ARD network and Britain's Sunday Times paper last summer on a leaked blood database.

Last update: Tue, 12/01/2016 - 00:43
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