Views expressed in opinion columns are the author's own.
Humans are competitive beings. We take pride in victory. World records are a sign of strength and excellence for athletes across the world, and they should not be stripped from those who won them fairly.
However, the European Athletic Association does not necessarily agree. This official track and field council proposed eliminating any world record set before 2005 to minimize harm caused by doping. Although its aims are well-intentioned, the council fails to grant trust, dignity and respect to the athletes who set their world records fair and square.
"It's a radical solution for sure, but those of us who love athletics are tired of the cloud of doubt and innuendo that has hung over our records for too long," said Svein Arne Hansen, president of the European Athletics Council, after meeting with the group to discuss the proposal.
Doping is a growing problem in track and field. It's understandable that the sport's governing body wants to combat it, and tracking down all illegal record holders would be incredibly difficult. For the EAA, a complete system wipe is the only solution that ensures there are no record holders who won unfairly. It's the easy option, and it's the safe option.
However, the safe option is not always the best option. It is important to consider the many athletes who would lose their records if this proposal were approved, especially those who won without doping.
Paula Radcliffe, who currently holds the world record in the marathon, would lose her 2003 title under the proposal. She maintained that she set her record fairly and spoke out against the EAA's agenda on Twitter, writing, "I am hurt and do feel this damages my reputation and dignity. It is a heavy-handed way to wipe out some really suspicious records in a cowardly way by simply sweeping all aside instead of having the guts to take the legal plunge and wipe any record that would be found in a court of law to have been illegally assisted."
Radcliffe's argument has merit. There is irony in what the EAA is doing. Their goal is to restore credibility to track and field, but how can this be achieved if they demonstrate a complete lack of trust in their record-holding athletes? The proposal not only creates a divide between the EAA and athletes but also between the public and the sport as a whole. If the EAA chooses to erase all records before 2005, the public will be suspicious and misled about the true prevalence of doping.
If the EAA wants to clear its records of dishonesty, it must do so on a case-by-case basis within the court system. Scrapping all records prior to 2005 based only on general uncertainty is insulting to athletes who worked their entire lives to set a record. This proposal would do far more harm than good for all parties involved.
Sydney Wess is a junior broadcast journalism and art history major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.