Resetting Women’s World Records

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This topic contains 15 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Andrew A. 7 years, 8 months ago.

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  • #12214

    Andrew A.
    Member
  • #30964

    Andrew A.
    Member

    Revisited: https://slate.com/culture/2011/08/the-women-s-track-and-field-record-book-needs-to-be-expunged.html
    I have a feeling that this is likely never going to happen.

  • #30965

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    This is a fascinating topic. One thing I would say the IAAF should do is get rid of that statute of limitations. I don't care if it's 50 years after someone competed. If incontrovertible evidence comes to light that the individual cheated, that individual's results should not stand. As for the record books, that's a sticky subject. It's not all that hard to understand the points of view of all sides.

  • #30966

    Andrew A.
    Member

    Well, apparently Radcliffe may no longer hold the marathon WR:

    I am unsure that “incontrovertible evidence” is realistic 8+ years after the fact.  Suppose evidence was planted to use against those athletes should they ever defect?  Or to coerce them to not defect or somehow control them in another way?  I am also unsure that a lot of the rationale being used to claim that certain marks are impossible by clean athletes is necessarily ironclad.  Dopers are still ahead of the testers so it stands to reason that a significant proportion of top competitors in any event are using far more advanced PEDs than those who set those records 20+ years ago did.  Today there are corporate doping programs instead of state doping programs.  Also, a reason that men's records may be broken so often is that there is (still) a whole lot deeper pool of talent on the men's side of the sport than there is on the women's side.  More interest, more money, more opportunity, greater concentration of ideal phenotypes, etc.  In another decade or two, will we collectively look back at Radcliffe's marathon WR (which seems like to stand for at least ten more years) with a far more jaundiced view than we give it today?  Would reaching back 8+ years to alter results/standings and records really give anyone any satisfaction?  It would ring hollow as too little, too late for anyone who might possibly benefit today.  I feel that chasing down dopers in the distant past is simply not an ideal use of time and money, it is likely to be a fruitless frivolity.  The best we can do, I believe, is to keep the focus on doing the best we can today to deter illegal PED use.  Of course, I am noted for thinking that records are overrated, so it likely matters less to me that an old record was likely PED-fueled than it might to others.

  • #30967

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    And Kastor's AR, as well as who knows how many other national records, is no more.

    I suppose incontrovertible might bit a little strong but solid evidence or even admission, which we occasionally do see. As for chasing down drug cheats from 8+ years ago, I would hope resources are still focused on deterring PED use right now but, if it becomes clear that someone cheated more than 8 years ago, why shouldn't the record be set straight? For example, take the 1976 Olympic marathon. It seems pretty clear that Cierpinski was not clean. Suppose he admits it or something else that seems undeniable comes out. Does he continue to get to stand as the Olympic champion or does Shorter get the credit he deserves as the Olympic champion? Supposing the “smoking gun” comes out 35 years after the race, does that make it any less worth setting the record straight than when Ben Johnson tested positive or Marion Jones admitted to cheating and they lost their medals? Not that the IAAF should be out chasing down ghosts from 35 years ago, they should be focusing on preventing today's cheats, but if something comes out that makes the cheating of the past obvious then a statute of limitations should not be put in the way of setting the record straight.

  • #30968

    Andrew A.
    Member

    Well, resources have to be extended to investigate and ensure that whatever “becomes clear” is valid and holds integrity.  We all know that a strong and varied enough set of circumstantial evidence strongly implies guilt enough for the court of public opinion, yet that does not necessarily hold for a legal proceeding and ruling.  How easy is it going to be chasing down an evidentiary trail that is over eight years old?  Evidence has degraded or been destroyed, officials have retired and possibly moved or died, etc.  There are a lot of potential snags and dead ends that could leave the IAAF spending money to investigate without a clear conclusion — I would presume that the statute of limitations is in place at least in part to prevent the use of IAAF funds on fruitless investigations.

    What I am also saying is that it does not matter much today (or even as late as 1984) whether Cierpinski might be proven to not have won fairly in 1976.  It realistically does Shorter little good and it does Cierpinski little harm by that point, it boils down to little more than a matter of reputation.  Shorter would have already missed capitalizing on the win in any real way and Cierpinski would have missed the sting of any sanction.  It does not seem like a reasonable deterrent that long after the fact.  Having confidence in a clean record book would be nice, but that notion has been effectively dead for a long, long time.  Even if records were reset to zero right now, how confident can we be that they would really be any cleaner going forward?

  • #30969

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Valid points. Maybe I'm being naive in believing in clean records but I'd still like to see the record cleared if there is something that is obvious. That said, I do agree that resources should be focused on doing all possible to prevent present day cheating.

  • #30970

    Andrew A.
    Member

    More and more, my belief that records are overrated is reconfirmed.  8)  Shady practices by race directors reaching for cheap pub have led to the male-pacers-for-women phenomenon and I, for one, have just never liked it.  The use of pacers, on the whole, is a “blight on the sport” though I recognize that it is a Pandora's box and there is realistically no way to avoid pacers.  However, there can and should be ways of standardizing allowed use of them better.  And I would not disagree one bit with retroactive application.  I doubt that Radcliffe (yes, she would still be WR holder if her '03 mark were tossed) or Kastor would have much of a problem with it, either.  They got their bonuses and recognition for their achievements, it seems like the message board record book worshipers are the ones with much of a problem with it.  People existing under the belief that it would hurt women's running and that race directors at any marathon with an elite women's field and any remote possibility of a record-setting performance would be unwilling to change format to suit the rules are delusional.

  • #30971

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    I'm maybe a little behind you but in the same boat. The records mean less and less, it's more about head to head competition. Unfortunately, record chases usually preclude head to head competition.

    As for what this means to the sport, I think it's an interesting standard to go back and rewrite the record books so significantly but I think it could be for the positive in the long run, if not even the short run. If nothing else, I have a hard time believing Chicago, Berlin, London and others will not be going to early starts for the elite women as soon as possible and I like those early starts. It puts the best women in the world in the spotlight by themselves, not engulfed in sub-elite men, as things should be.

    Honestly, if I were in charge in Chicago or Berlin, I realize it's late in the game right now to make major changes but I'd still have people on the phone right now with local officials and the elite women's agents to get a feel for the feasibility/interest in starting the elite women early.

  • #30972

    Andrew A.
    Member

    As for what this means to the sport, I think it's an interesting standard to go back and rewrite the record books so significantly but I think it could be for the positive in the long run, if not even the short run. If nothing else, I have a hard time believing Chicago, Berlin, London and others will not be going to early starts for the elite women as soon as possible and I like those early starts. It puts the best women in the world in the spotlight by themselves, not engulfed in sub-elite men, as things should be.

    Yes and to me this seems like a huge positive for both the sport overall and for women's competitive running.

    Honestly, if I were in charge in Chicago or Berlin, I realize it's late in the game right now to make major changes but I'd still have people on the phone right now with local officials and the elite women's agents to get a feel for the feasibility/interest in starting the elite women early.

    Should not be that difficult, simply delay the start of everyone outside the women's elite/invited corral(s) by five to ten minutes.

  • #30973

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Yes and to me this seems like a huge positive for both the sport overall and for women's competitive running.

    Absolutely. I've been a big fan of the change being made at Boston and New York. I think it would be great to see that on a more widespread basis.

    Should not be that difficult, simply delay the start of everyone outside the women's elite/invited corral(s) by five to ten minutes.

    Probably more like at least 15-20 minutes and I would think starting the women earlier than the original plan would, if logistically possible, be more palatable to the cities involved. I don't see why it would be a big problem, compared to everything else they have to do, to close down the course and have it ready to go even 30 minutes earlier but I have no idea what goes into a big city marathon. It would seem possible to do with 2 months notice and I'd love to hear that they are setting plans in place to do so.

  • #30974

    Andrew A.
    Member

    No doubt the IAAF will need to clarify exactly what criteria will satisfy a “women's-only race.” 

    I am amazed (though perhaps I should not be) by the uninformed views and attempted analogies this ruling brings to the fore, which ignore reality.  There is no equating sitting-and-kicking, using a watch and mile markers for splits, monitoring a GPS watch pace reading, or whatever else with women being paced by men known to be significantly faster.  What it would equate to would be men being paced by vehicles and I somehow doubt that all those protesting this ruling would support that concept.  There is clear scientific evidence that pacers provide significant advantage beyond the attempted analogies noted above.  This is born out in the real world, this is why we have not seen major records set sans pacers and even why major record attempts are not made sans pacers.  It is also born out in the number of women who have been at all close to Radcliffe's WR (old or new), with and especially without pacers.  Allowing men to pace women had made a mockery of the women's marathon WR, just as if it were allowed on a downhill course, on a short course, etc.  This ruling is a good move to right that misstep.

  • #30975

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    I couldn't believe a “women's only” race would mean anything other than no male pacers allowed. After all, it appears that's solely what they are after.

    As for the debate about pacing, I'd challenge anyone who has raced a 5K all-out with head to head competition and not with a sit and kick strategy to attempt to match that time all alone on a local track. It just isn't going to happen. The longer the distance, the more difficult to hold the pace without someone running with you so the 5K test is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to pacing over long distances.

    I've done some 5K time trials over the years. My best track 5K in a race: 15:43. My best road 5K in a race: 15:57-15:58. My best solo 5K time trial on a track: high-16s.

  • #30976

    Andrew A.
    Member

    I couldn't believe a “women's only” race would mean anything other than no male pacers allowed. After all, it appears that's solely what they are after.

    Right, so then you still get slimy race directors who then stage a “women's only” start for the female elites just five minutes before the rest of the field starts and then insert male pacers in the rest of the field who make up ground and take over for the women pacers by 10-15K.  I expect they would feel it necessary to decide how much separation between starts constitutes a truly separate race for women.

    As for the debate about pacing, I'd challenge anyone who has raced a 5K all-out with head to head competition and not with a sit and kick strategy to attempt to match that time all alone on a local track. It just isn't going to happen. The longer the distance, the more difficult to hold the pace without someone running with you so the 5K test is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to pacing over long distances.

    I've done some 5K time trials over the years. My best track 5K in a race: 15:43. My best road 5K in a race: 15:57-15:58. My best solo 5K time trial on a track: high-16s.

    I keep seeing the ridiculous quips along the lines of: “well, she still had to run the entire distance and therefore her performance is valid.”  Oh, so what if she “ran the entire distance” with high levels of PEDs?  Did she not still “run the entire distance”?  What about if she did it on a course that fairly uniformly loses a bunch of elevation from start to finish?  Heck, why not get a jet blower to follow her with and provide her a favorable tailwind the entire way?  She still had to “run the entire distance,” right?  8)

  • #30977

    SF/John
    Member
  • #30979

    Andrew A.
    Member

    Perfect  8)

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