* Bulgarian says innocent athletes should not suffer
* Critics want to rip up record book in bid to clean up the sport
SOFIA, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Former Olympic high jump champion Stefka Kostadinova has criticised proposals to wipe out athletics world records in an attempt to regain public trust and clean up the sport's image, tarnished by a series of doping offences.
Kostadinova, who is still the world record holder with a jump of 2.09 metres from the 1987 world championships in Rome, said on Wednesday the suggestion of expunging all existing records would be "unfair to all (athletes) who absolutely honestly reached the peak of their careers".
Last year, UK Athletics (UKA) called for world records to be wiped clean and drug cheats to be banned for at least eight years in radical proposals aimed at bringing in a new, unblemished era for the sport.
On Tuesday, the International Sports Press Association (AIPS), also urged the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to cleanse the record books of doping.
"If the fight against doping has come to this point, if it is as difficult as we all agree it is, then I think that the moment has arrived to close the world record books in athletics and open new ones," AIPS President Gianni Merlo said in an open letter to IAAF President Sebastian Coe.
Kostadinova, who won Olympic gold in Atlanta in 1996 and two world championship titles, reacted angrily to the proposal.
"The idea for the cancellation of world records is frivolous and incorrect," Bulgarian Olympic Committee chairwoman Kostadinova, 51, said in an open letter to local media.
"Strengthened measures against doping are not a reason to expunge everything that happened before."
Athletics, the showpiece sport of the Olympic Games, has experienced a traumatic period with life bans for officials following allegations of doping, cover-ups, bribery and corruption.
Bulgarian athletics has also been marred by a series of doping offences in recent years.
Sprinter Inna Eftimova, middle-distance runners Daniela Yordanova, Vanya Stambolova and Teodora Kolarova, high jumper Venelina Veneva and hammer thrower Andrian Andreev all tested positive for banned substances.
Silvia Danekova, who was due to compete in the women's 3,000 metres steeplechase at the Rio Olympics last August, tested positive for a banned substance a few days after her arrival in Brazil. (Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Clare Fallon)