23 June, 2016

A most interesting article by Jon Mulkeen

While visiting the IAAF website I came across an article by Jon Mulkeen (his blog is one I visit regularly despite the fact that new posts are rather infrequent). The title caught my attention

It is a most interesting read and I suggest that you head over to the IAAF website and read the article for yourselves.

The famous Maracana stadium that will host the 2016 Olympics

However, before reading, I would like you to make a guess. How many male Kenyan marathoners have a performance qualifying them for the Rio Olympics? The answer will surprise you.

12 June, 2016

A very interesting site, but ...

The Web may be dominated by english but this does not mean that there do not exist excellent pages in other languages. So I will keep giving links to sites that I like, independently of the language they are written in. (Of course, I am somewhat biased towards the languages I can read myself, but frankly if you feel that you should absolutely get the gist of some article, an automatic translation could help somewhat).

This time I would like to link to an italian site: Storie di Sport

It is not a site on athletics. Its scope is much broader, covering all sports. I encountered several great articles but even if you are interested only in athletics you can find, published in the last six months, articles on Stella Walsh, Fanny Blankers-Koen and Roger Bannister. 

If you can read italian, do not hesitate to visit this excellent site.

01 June, 2016

World records revisited

In a previous post of mine I put forward a crazy notion of making tabula rasa of world records prior to 2010. Crazy? Well, perhaps a little less than how it looked initially. What did change? I a recent tweet S.A. Hansen, the president of the European Athletics Federation announced that he plans to correct the "mistakes of the past" removing all "cheats":

Granted there is talk only of European records. However, I believe that, once the process is underway it will be difficult to stop it. Also while the previous IAAF president, L. Diack, had made public his hostility to "rewriting the history books", the current one, Sir Sebastian Coe, may have a less inflexible attitude. So, the dream of "clean" orld records may come true one day.

But how can one go about choosing which world records to keep and which to discard. I do not believe a per case examination to be fair. Everybody knows that the East German records are tainted by doping suspicions but how about records from other countries? In the doping game there is no white and black and so my recommendation is to base the rewriting of the record tables on the dates on which records were established. These dates must be chosen in conjunction with the adoption of specific anti-doping regulation. Let us have a look at the latter (here I am based on the excellent article of J.P. Vazel, alas in french):

In 1984 (in fact end of 1983) it was stipulated that all world records homologation requests should be accompanied by the results of an anti-doping test.

In 1990 anti-doping controls outside competitions were instituted.

In 2009 the biological passport allowing a longitudinal study of the athlete's biochemical profile was introduced.

J. Kratochvilova winning the 400 m 1983 WC in WR time 47.99 
just ahead of her team-mate T. Kocembova

So world records should be homologated only among those established after one of these dates. The first possibility would be to discard all records prior to 1984. However of all current world records only the women's 800 m, 1:53.28 by J. Kratochvilova, established in 1983 would disappear from the list (to be replaced by P. Jelimo's, 2009, 1:54.01 performance). We are  thus left essentially with two possibilities: either discard all the pre-1990 ones or the more draconian choice of erasing the pre-2009 records. Concerning the first I decided to place the threshold for record homologation in 1991 rather than 1990 as an extra security since one can assume that the importance of the anti-doping regulations would have taken some months to sink in at that time. Had we stuck with 1990 records then the women's shot put and discus throw records would be held by two chinese athletes, Sui Xinmei with 21.66 m and Xiao Yanling with 71.68 m.

I love this photo. P. Jelimo winning the 2008 olympic 800m
 is just hiidng the silver medalist J. Jepkosgei-Busienei

A few remarks are in order concerning these lists.

I do not include race-walking in my lists. I have a great respect for race-walkers but as I have already explained I consider race-walking a discipline were cheating has been institutionalised.

The current javelin designs were finalised for men in 1991 (after a first modification in 1986) and for women in 1999. This does not affect the current tables since the best post-1990 women's performance is that of T. Hattestad with 72.12 m in 1993. However it should have an impact on the combined events world records and in particular for women's haptathlon. With the new javelin the post-1990 world record would go to C. Klüft who scored 7032 points in 2007.


Event Men Women
100 m U. Bolt 9.58 C. Jeter 10.64
200 m U. Bolt 19.19 D. Schippers 21.63
400 m M. Johnson 43.18 M.J. Pérec 48.25
800 m D. Rudisha 1:40.91 P. Jelimo 1:54.01
1500 m H. El Guerrouj 3:26.00 G. Dibaba 3:50.07
5000 m K. Bekele 12:37.35 T. Dibaba 14:11.15
10000 m K. Bekele 26:17.53 W. Junxia 29:31.78
Half Marathon Z. Tadese 58.23 F. Kiplagat 1:05:075
Marathon D. Kimetto 2:02:57 P. Radcliffe 2:15:25
3000 m st S. Saeed Saheen 7:53.63 G. Galkina 8:58.81
110 m hd A. Merritt 12.80 K. Harrison 12.24
400 m hd K. Young 46.78 Y. Pechonkina 52.34
4x100 m Jamaica 36.84 USA 40.82
4x400 m USA 2:54.29 USA 3:16.71
High Jump J. Sotomayor 2.45 B. Vlasic 2.08
Pole Vault R. Lavillenie 6.16 Y. Isinbayeva 5.06
Long Jump M. Powell 8.95 J. Joyner-Kersee 7.49
Triple Jump J. Edwards 18.29 I. Kravets 15.50
Shot Put R. Barnes 23.12 V. Adams 21.24
Discus Throw V. Alekna 73.88 S. Perkovic 71.08
Hammer Throw V. Devyatovskiy 84.90 A. Wlodarczyk 81.08
Javelin Throw J. Zelezny 98.48 B. Spotakova 72.28
Deca/Heptathlon A. Eaton 9045 J. Joyner-Kersee 7044

Wang Junxia figures in the list for 1991 but this is a record heavily tainted by suspicion as I explained in a recent post of mine.

V. Devyatovskiy's performance is clouded by doping allegations. Since the CAS has decided to give him back his olympic medal I have decided to let his performance stand. Otherwise he should have been replaced by K. Murofushi with 84.86 m.

Men's shot put is a bag of hurt (to borrow Steve Jobs famous expression). Barnes had been suspended for doping and the same is true for the second best post-90 performer K. Toth. I let Barnes in since his record has not been invalidated despite his doping offences. Otherwise he should have been replaced by J. Kovacs with 22.56 m.

2009 till now

Event Men Women
100 m U. Bolt 9.58 C. Jeter 10.64
200 m U. Bolt 19.19 D. Schippers 21.63
400 m W. van Niekerk 43.48 S. Richards-Ross 48.83
800 m D. Rudisha 1:40.91 C. Semenya 1:55.45
1500 m A. Kiprop 3:26.69 G. Dibaba 3:50.07
5000 m D. Gebremeskel 12:46.81 A. Ayana 14:14.32
10000 m K. Bekele 26:43.16 M. Melkamu 29:53.80
Half Marathon Z. Tadese 58.23 F. Kiplagat 1:05:075
Marathon D. Kimetto 2:02:57 M. Keitany 2:18:37
3000 m st B. Kipruto 7:53.64 R. Jebet 8:59.97
110 m hd A. Merritt 12.80 K. Harrison 12.24
400 m hd B. Jackson 47.32 M. Walker 52.42
4x100 m Jamaica 36.84 USA 40.82
4x400 m Bahamas 2:56.72 USA 3:16.87
High Jump M.E. Barshim 2.43 B. Vlasic 2.08
Pole Vault R. Lavillenie 6.16 Y. Isinbayeva 5.06
Long Jump D. Phillips 8.74 R. Reese 7.25
Triple Jump C. Taylor 18.21 C. Igargüen 15.31
Shot Put J. Kovacs 22.56 V. Adams 21.24
Discus Throw P. Malachowski 71.84 S. Perkovic 71.08
Hammer Throw P. Fajdek 83.93 A. Wlodarczyk 81.08
Javelin Throw J. Yego 92.72 M. Abakumova 71.998
Deca/Heptathlon A. Eaton 9045 J. Ennis 6955

Concerning the 2009 list I decided not to take into account the performances of N. Ostapchuk, suspended for doping violations. 

I have included Semenya in women's 800 m but very, very reluctantly. I always believe that Semenya should not be allowed to participate in women's competitions (as I have already explained).

All in all I believe that a world record list based on post-2008 performances is much more realistic than the current one.