August 22, 2006

All Those Who Have Achieved a World Record …

… please step forward. Not so fast, Mr. Gebreselassie!

From the guilty-until-proven-innocent-department, here's a little fact (courtesy of the People's Daily — read past the part about the Gatlin case) that I did not know about world records in athletics:

"We are very specific. Any record from 100m to 100km must have been tested for EPO. This has been the case for two years now, but it seems that not all the laboratories know about it," said [secretary general of the IAAF Pierre] Weiss.

According to the same article, the IAAF has refused to ratify at least three world record performances in 2006 because the testing laboratory failed to test an athlete's urine for EPO. You heard that right; not for a failed test, but for a failure to perform the test properly.

The section concerning world records in the IAAF Rulebook is seven pages long. Athletes are required to submit an application form, signed by numerous officials who certify the course, conditions, equipment, etc. A doping control officer also has to certify that a sample was collected from the athlete and sent to the laboratory for analysis.

The most recent record to be rejected was for the men's 25 km road race, where Ethiopia's legendary Haile Gebreselassie recorded a time of 1:11.37 in the Netherlands earlier this year. That accomplishment will not stand as a world record, thanks to bureaucratic incompetence.

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