Restore Paula Radcliffe's Record

Paula Radcliffe's Marathon Record

A month and a half ago, the IAAF enacted a sexist rule that stripped some women of their world records and made it more difficult for them to set new world records going forward (as of January 1st, 2012). Most notably, Paula Radcliffe’s near-unreachable 2:15:25 was going to be removed as the world record, with her 2:17:42 put in it’s place.

The IAAF has now just reversed that decision about removing existing world records:

Following a recommendation by the IAAF Competition Commission regarding Women’s World Records for Road Events, IAAF Council has approved the continued recognition of the currently existing World Records, regardless of the type of race in which they were achieved (mixed or women only) and new records will be officially recognised and ratified only if achieved in women-only races.

The 48th IAAF Congress in Daegu, Korea, approved that from now on, a Women’s World Record on the Road can no longer be set in a race in which the record setter is competing against men. At the same time, however, no announcement was made about existing World Records, some of which were achieved in mixed races.

To be consistent with previous decisions taken in relation to changes to other World Records recognition principles, the Commission felt that the current World Records are still valid, which prompted their recommendation to Council which has been approved.

I am very happy for Paula and for the other women that were going to be affected by this ruling that they get to keep their records, but it is too little and not soon enough.

Their sexist policy that women can’t run in the same races as men is still going to be in place for the future beginning with the new year, and there is no such policy against men running with women.

This policy will still set back the sport of running by 50 years, and it sets a bad precedent. I think that it’s time that the IAAF acknowledges that it is no longer the 1890s and they stop putting the interests of their federations first while treating their athletes as a commodity.

It’s easy for me to sit here and say that the IAAF should be boycotted as I don’t make my living as a professional runner. It would be especially difficult for track athletes, who don’t have many alternative places to race like marathoners and other road competitors do where they can earn a good paycheck. I don’t know that there is any other way to overhaul these and other antiquated policies of the IAAF that are holding the sport back.

So congratulations to Paula and to the other amazingly fast women who were being threatened with having their world records stripped from them for bad reasons, but the fight should not stop here and we should continue to let the IAAF, the IOC, USATF and whatever your local governing body is what your feelings are on the matter.

If you’d like to learn more information, there have been a few facebook fan pages created over the past couple of months that have been good hubs of information flow and organization that you might want to check out.

The first is “Restore Paula Radcliffe’s Record, put together by Gary Allen and Mary Ropp, and which has achieved it’s goal in being created.

The second is Nick Symmond’s group, “I’m Tired of USATF and IAAF Crippling Our Sport” – you may also want to look into the Track & Field Athlete’s Association which has just opened up membership to non-elite runners and reduced the membership fees to $20/year.