Sonia O'Sullivan's 200m World record could be under threat

Sonia O’Sullivan set the fastest time for 2,000m when she ran 5:25:36 in Edinburgh on July 8, 1994, but she could be about to lose that record
Malcolm McCausland

SONIA O’Sullivan is one the athletes who is likely to be stripped of a World record under a proposal approved by European Athletics that all existing marks prior to 2005 are to be erased from the books.

O’Sullivan (right) set the fastest time for 2,000m when she ran 5:25:36 in Edinburgh on July 8, 1994, although this was bettered indoors by Genzebe Dibaba with a 5:23.75 in Sabadell, near Barcelona this February.

The IAAF has stored blood and urine samples only since 2005 and it is only marks set since then that will be included if the proposals are adopted by IAAF.

This means that Sonia’s record is at risk of being struck from the books along with Mike Powell’s long jump of 8.95m and Hicham El Guerrouj’s 1500m time of 3 mins 26.00.

Also likely to be erased are times and distances that have long been seen as dubious, such as Florence Griffith-Joyner’s 100m and 200m marks and numerous World bests set by eastern bloc athletes when state-sponsored doping was rife and there was no out-of-competition testing.

Irishman Pierce O’Callaghan, who led the European Athletics project team, is confident that the plan would survive legal challenges.

“We are not casting doubt on the previous records at all, just saying the criteria have changed,” he said.

The IAAF is expected to approve the proposal in July and it is likely to come into effect within the next 12 months.

Britons Paula Radcliffe and Jonathan Edwards, who would also lose their marathon and triple jump records respectively, have been vociferous in their opposition to the proposal that all athletics World and European records before 2005 are likely to be deleted from the record books.

Radcliffe, who set her record in 2003, said she was “offended” by the proposals adding that it “unfairly damages the reputations of many innocent athletes”. Edwards, whose triple jump record dates back to 1995, branded them “wrong-headed and cowardly.”

Usain Bolt’s 100m and 200m records, David Rudisha’s 800m best and Wayde van Niekerk’s 400m are likely to remain on the books as they were set more recently.

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