British athletes Jonathan Edwards and Paula Radcliffe are among those who will have their longstanding world records wiped under new rules but is it simply window-dressing?
When Lionel Messi slaloms away from three, four, five players, before dabbing a shot past the keeper with the cool nonchalance of a movie star stubbing out a cigarette, millions of jaws go into freefall. It is the same when Ronnie OSullivan machine-guns around a snooker table, or Roger Federer whips his wrist to slap a scudding cross-court winner. Their genius stimulates us giddy.
Yet when a trail and realm star renders something equally extraordinary, our inner detective moves to high alert. We have been deceived, misled and played for clowns so many times now that a world record no longer becomes a moment of pure rejoice and exhilaration but a potential misdemeanour scene.
But on Tuesday, as the full implications of the radical plan to wipe out all world and European records before 2005began to sink in, there were plenty in the athletic who believed it was the start of a necessary sea change.
One British coach told the Guardian it was possibly the best bit of reform ever before citing, with acceptance, the plan to strip anyone who defrauds of their world and European records. Another administrator conveyed his revel at the news. I have invested 10 times being amazed how little my counterparts care about doping, he mentioned. So hats off to European Athletics president Svein Arne Hansen for showing he has bollocks.
It was also a tacit but welcome acknowledgement of the sports barrel-aged problems with performance improving drugs. You didnt require a GCSE in bio-chemistry to know that female athletes from eastern bloc countries and elsewhere during the Cold War era were get assist. You realized it in their giant-oak thighs and baritone voices and, in a number of cases, even read about later it in the Stasi files. Yet the best law PhDs could not get those records struck off the books. Now they will be.
As the dust began to settle, there were those who were less comfortable with the news. Jonathan Edwards, whose 18.29 m triple jump world record has stood since 1995, admitted he would like to the authorities concerned had not hidden the old records together, as if they were all radioactive.