It obvious to see that the international track and field community is divided in its opinion about the proposal of the president of the European Track and Field federation Mr.Svein Arne Hanse to erase all the pre-2005 world records from the books and to “start a new page, since in his opinion, many of those records are produced with the help of now forbidden illegal ergogenic aids.
An interesting idea,to say the least, for several reasons.
First of all the response of some athletes. The first group of athletes who support this proposal are the ones who have serious reasons to believe that they have lost medals or have not broken records because they also have doubts about some of the pre-2005 competitors. Unfortunately, their pre-2005 records will also not become acknowledged nor will the get the medals they think they deserve. The second group of athletes are the young athletes who e.g. will become the new world record holders, because their performances have been delivered after 2005. You can’t blame them for that.
But don’t forget that the supposed main reason for all of this, was the fight against the use of doping. And this proposal does nothing for that cause apart from promoting the use of it. I will explain this below.
Erasing all the existing records means that you assume that all of these athletes have used doping to set those records. Apart from the obvious mistake here, this collective punishment also punishes the great athletes who did not use doping before 2005. This is considered collateral damage for the greater good, since it’s the pain you don’t feel yourself. But don’t forget, in itself this is just a useless and desperate gesture in the fight against doping that will prove to do more harm than good.
One part of the argument is that the records have to get scratched since the athletes cannot prove that they were clean at that time. Wrong argument! One can’t blame the athlete. Imagine at that time: you are a clean athlete, you are tested out-of-competition, you break a world record, you get tested again, clean. What else could you have done, and even better, what else can you do more now than to get tested? Apart from getting into a time-machine, travel to 2017 and invite WADA to come back with you and test with the current methods? Let’s get real again.
The second error in thinking is even worse. On the timeline, 2005 is a completely arbitrary date. Why not 2017 or 2000? But the worst factor here is the assumption that the world records established after 2005 or in the future were produced without the help of banned ergogenic aids. How stupid can it get? There is not a single valid indication or a single number that indicates that this is true! If that would be true, than we could decrease or stop doping testing. The fact that doping testing has become more frequently and more strictly regulated, indicate that also at least some, if not most, of the post-2005 world records must have been produced with the help of doping substances.
The general public is pretty much aware that some people like to raise doubts around some of the world records in the men’s sprint or the men’s and women’s long distance events, long after 2005!
By erasing the pre-2005 world records, the level of records in some events will come down a lot. This, in fact, might even encourage some athletes to use banned substances, considering the smaller margins of difference between their current personal records and the post-2005 world records., because now a world record might be within reach. Any idea what the rewards are for breaking a world record in track and field? One might even speculate that an athlete only would need a low dose, and/or a short time of using to become world record holder now, making the chance of detection very small.
So who is Mr.Hansen trying to fool with his proposal? As the saying is, you can fool everyone one time and there might be a person that you can fool all the time, but you cannot fool everybody all the time.
And here is the funny part or sad part, dependent on how you look at it.
Mr. Hansen, a self-declared anti-doping crusader, like so many the past few years, is now under serious scrutiny since Patrick Sjoberg, the Swedish ex-world record holder in high jump, recently accused Mr. Hansen of tampering with doping tests himself. He did this in his position of director of the Bislett Games in Oslo, in order to avoid the world best athletes getting caught at his meet.
Yes, in his proposal he doubted the credibility of the pre-2005 records I the eye of the general public, but the general public has more reasons to doubt the credibility and integrity of Mr.Hansen himself and many other track and field officials as recent events have shown.