By Gene Cherry
(Reuters) - U.S. athletics officials want to study the ramifications of a controversial European proposal that would lead to the rewriting of world records, given it would also affect those that have never failed doping tests.
Under the proposal endorsed by the European Athletics Council earlier this week, any athlete breaking a record would have had to been drug-tested multiple times in the lead-up to the record. A sample taken afterwards also would have to be available for re-testing for 10 years.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the world governing body, did not start storing blood and urine samples until 2005, meaning records set before then could potentially be at risk.
"Any action pertaining to records, from 'retirement' of records to changing criteria for the record books, has the potential to affect records that are clean as well as those that are tainted," USA Track & Field (USATF) spokeswoman Jill Geer said in a statement to Reuters on Tuesday.
"There is no perfect solution, just as there is no perfect anti-doping system."
The proposal could potentially see British marathoner Paula Radcliffe, a vocal critic of drug use in athletics, and triple jumper Jonathan Edwards lose their records since performances not meeting the proposed guidelines would no longer be officially sanctioned but would remain on the "all-time list".
Radcliffe, whose mark was set in 2003, has branded the proposal "cowardly".
"I am hurt and do feel this damages my reputation and dignity," she said in a statement on Twitter.
Mike Powell's 1991 long jump mark and Hichman El Guerrouj's 1500m record from 1998 also would be under threat.
There is no suggestion that any took drugs.
The IAAF is expected to discuss the idea at its August council meeting and Geer said they would also talk about the proposal with their athletes and other athletics bodies.
"USATF will vet the matter with our athletes, fellow federations and the IAAF," Geer added.
"Ultimately, it is a matter for the IAAF family to examine and determine what is best for the integrity of the past, present and future of the sport on a global level."
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)