Durban - Drastic measures are needed to improve the
integrity of global athletics even if it means resetting some of the sport’s
most iconic records, according to KwaZulu-Natal Athletics president Sello
Mokoena was speaking after UK Athletics, the umbrella body
for the sport in the UK, called for the complete scrapping of every record in
light of the doping crisis that was destroying the sports.
IAAF chairperson Sebastian Coe was reported to support the
idea of scrapping off certain individual records that were highly suspicious or
linked to a confirmed drug cheat.
According to media reports, suspicious world records include
the women’s 200m time of 21.34 seconds set by Florence Griffiths-Joyner in
1988, the men’s shot-put by American Randy Barnes in 1990 - he was later banned
for life for steroids - and the women’s 400m record set in 1985 by East
Germany’s Marita Koch.
Mokoena said that some records, like the women’s 100m for
women, were near impossible to repeat by clean athletes.
“UK Athletics suggestion is good if it is to be done
scientifically using algorithms and experienced statisticians,” he said.
step will require commitment from all athletics stakeholders such as
administrative bodies; sponsors; event organisers and most especially the
athletes themselves. We cannot continue to think and do things the same way if
we are to restore integrity in the sport.”
Mokoena said that situation required such drastic measures
as the empty chairs at stadia at major events points to a sport which has lost
public appeal and credibility in the current environment of dishonesty and
cheating. The average age of those who watch athletics is 55 and indicates
therefore that the sport that is in decline.
Mokoena said South Africa was not immune to the doping
scourge. “One positive test is one too many. Unfortunately South Africa has had
a few positives in recent year. All
athletes cite mitigating factors chief amongst them being ignorance. This
points out to the need for education for both coaches and athletes,” he said.
At least the doping system in South Africa attempted to
bring in the element of independence, which was lacking in other nations. It
however still suffered from a lack of resources, pointed out by frustratingly
long delays before results are known.
To restore credibility in the sport Mokoena would like to
see South Africa increase its anti-doping efforts including raising awareness
among athletes; increasing the number of athletes tested; and harsher bans for
those who test positive.
“All clean athletes and coaches would welcome much needed
and long overdue clean up in the sport,” he said.