Why can women's athletics records not be broken?

There’s a fairly obvious answer to that question when you realise that many of the track ones were set in the 1980s when drugs testing was a lot less rigorous than it is now.

And that most of them were set by athletes that came under suspicion of drug misuse.

But apparently things aren’t as straightforward as that. An interview from the BBC with Jamaican runner Veronica Campbell-Brown puts a whole new perspective on the problem of the women’s 100m record, set by Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988 with a time of 10.49 seconds. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Records ‘hurt’ women’s athletics

[Griffith-Joyner’s] tragically early death fuelled the rumours of doping – rumours that have never been substantiated and have always been denied by her family and friends.

But there was another suspicious element to her remarkable 100m time, the long-held belief a faulty wind-meter failed to record a strong tailwind that would have ruled out her time.

Despite showing a helping wind of more than three metres per second for the rest of the day – a metre more per second than the legal limit – the anemometer recorded a wind of 0.0 m/s for Flo-Jo’s race.

“When I look at my personal best for 100m it’s 10.85,” said Campbell-Brown, the reigning 100m World champion.

“The world record is 10.49. For me that is very difficult to break. Rumour has it that (the world record) could have been wind-aided.

“The people in authority have the power to look at it. It’s been 20 years now and the closest anybody has come to it is 10.7 (the disgraced Marion Jones ran 10.65 at altitude in 1998).

“So it’s very difficult and I know a lot of people would like to see women break world records like the men do.”

Since 1997, the Association of Track and Field Statisticians (ATFS) has listed Griffith-Joyner’s time as “probably strongly wind-assisted, but recognised as a world record”.

And in the 2003 edition of IAAF World Records, ATFS member Richard Hymans wrote, “this is a world record which should not have been ratified”. Read full story here…

An interesting article – and well worth reading in full.