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Proposal to disregard athletics world records prior to 2005: a radical and misjudged initiative
  1. Andrew Mark Edwards1,2,
  2. Andrew M Jones3,
  3. David B Pyne4,5
  1. 1 Faculty of Sport, Health & Wellbeing, Plymouth Marjon University, Plymouth, UK
  2. 2 Sport & Exercise Sciences, James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
  3. 3 School of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, Devon, UK
  4. 4 Department of Physiology, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, Australia
  5. 5 Research Institute for Sport and Exercise, University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Andrew Mark Edwards, Faculty of Sport, Health & Wellbeing, Plymouth Marjon University, Plymouth, PL6 8BH, UK; aedwards{at}

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The recent announcement that the European Athletics Council has proposed to disregard all athletics world records set prior to 20051 has caused considerable controversy and debate among the athletics community. It is a radical initiative with commendable aims to redress the consequences of past undetected doping violations that may have led to some of the least attainable world records. This proposal has now been put to the world governing body, the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF), and its merits require discussion.

A major suggested justification for the proposal is that the IAAF has stored blood and urine samples only since 2005. As a consequence, there is limited recourse to disprove the legitimacy of performances prior to 2005 unless compelling new corroborative evidence emerges, as was the case for the cyclist Lance Armstrong. This seems unlikely when conclusive evidence of doping and admissions of guilt are not forthcoming despite widely known practices of state-sponsored doping.2 Therefore, the proposal has some merit for expunction of world records that may have been set with the aid of illegal performance-enhancing drugs. Nevertheless, there are many …

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  • Contributors All authors contributed equally to the preparation of this article.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.