Head of UK Athletics speaks to Athletics Weekly following publication of the national governing body’s manifesto for clean athletics
UK Athletics (UKA) chairman Ed Warner has called for an end to the “code of silence” which he believes surrounds the world record list and has urged the IAAF to scrap the current record books and usher in a new “clean era” for the sport.
UKA released “A Manifesto for Clean Athletics” on Monday, which put forth 14 separate proposals to be considered for the sport to make a clean break from the allegations of corruption and doping cover-ups currently engulfing it.
Among the points made, the most striking is the suggestion that the IAAF should investigate the possible implications of drawing a line under all pre-existing records in the sport and create a new list based on performances in the “new Clean Athletics era”.
The UKA chairman told AW: “What we’re saying here is let’s not hide from the fact there’s a problem in the sport. We’ve got to confront that and find ways to solve it.
“We may not have the best way, there might be better ways, but let’s find those ways.”
Some of the current records have question marks hanging above them, none more so than the women’s 100m and 200m which are held by Florence Griffith-Joyner, who faced numerous doping allegations during her career prior to her death in 1998 at the age of 38.
Dutch sprinter Dafne Schippers was made to face awkward questions following her victory in the 200m at the World Championships in Beijing last summer when she became the third fastest woman in history over the distance and Warner was angered that such an achievement should be marred by the sport’s reputation.
“I know there’s been this code of silence around the world records for so long and people need to own up to the fact this is not good for the sport,” said Warner.
“I’m embarrassed to sit in a stadium and watch women’s sprinters get nowhere near to Flo-Jo’s time.
“When Dafne Schippers won the 200m last year, all people want to do is ask her about her acne and whether or not she’s a drug cheat. What a terrible thing and a terrible indictment on the sport and what a sad position for that athlete to be in. Somehow we’ve got to solve that.”
In an interview with the Guardian, Paula Radcliffe, the women’s marathon world record-holder, objected to Warner’s proposal for all world records to be scrapped and instead called for all athletes with a history of doping to have results expunged from the records.
She said: “If sufficient evidence comes to light about doping at any point, then all of an athlete’s marks should retrospectively get wiped for their entire career.
“It means, for example, that with Linford Christie all his marks would be gone because he failed a test in 1999. You are not saying they were cheating at that point, but the decision to dope means you forego and sacrifice everything you achieved before that. I think that is a strong deterrent.”