Liz McColgan: Former world champion says world record rewrite plans 'very unfair'

Liz McColgan
Now 52, Liz McColgan is a two-time Commonwealth gold medallist in the 10,000m

Former 10,000m world champion Liz McColgan has criticised proposals to rewrite athletics world records.

European Athletics has proposed rewriting world records set before 2005 in a bid to restore the sport's credibility following doping scandals.

Scot McColgan, 52, says the move is "very, very unfair", and fears current anti-doping measures are insufficient.

"Before they scrap records, they need to think of how to guarantee the next few years will be clean," she said.

"In our day there was blatant drug use and we had to compete against it. We lost medals to a lot of drug cheats. It's not just happening the last 10-15 years, it's been happening long before that.

"How they can just say from 2005, a certain date, it's not right. If they're going to clean the slate, it should be completely from the start.

"But also, how are they going to guarantee that in the future it's going to be clean, because they're not bringing in blood testing, and until they have more stringent testing in place, and all countries following that testing, then what's the guarantee the next five years are going to be clean?

"I personally don't think it's going to be clean, the next five years."

'We knew there were cheats'

McColgan won the 10,000m World Championships title in Tokyo in 1991. She also won 10,000m Commonwealth gold in Edinburgh in 1986, and in Auckland four years later. Between those titles, she claimed a silver medal in the same event at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul.

The former runner, whose daughter Eilish reached the final of the 5,000m at last year's Rio Games, also claimed a world title in the half marathon during 1992.

"When we ran we knew there was drug use out there but we could do nothing about it, and had to get on with the job in hand," McColgan told BBC Scotland.

Liz McColgan with the 10,000m gold medal after becoming a world champion in the 1991 championships in Tokyo
Liz McColgan became 10,000m world champion in 1991

"A few of us did go on to win medals and set records, it wasn't the drug cheats that won all the time, but it's very difficult to say it's this record or that record that's going to go, I think that's very, very unfair.

"And I also think to make it a sport for our future, we have to be more stringent in what we're doing.

"It's not an easy option just saying, well let's make the slate clean and we move forward - there's a lot more thinking that has to go into how we move forward with it."

'There shouldn't be a cut-off date'

McColgan's appraisal of the plans to rewrite records was shared by fellow ex-world champion Zola Budd.

Budd, 50, who represented both South Africa, the nation of her birth, and Great Britain, set a world record for the 5,000m at the age of 17 and became a household name for running barefoot.

"I think it would only be fair if they want to rewrite the records, they should find a date, like today, or tomorrow, and rewrite all the records," Budd said.

Zola Budd
South African-born Budd became famous for competing barefoot

"There shouldn't be a cut-off date like 2005 or whenever, because that will be unfair to everybody.

"If they want to rewrite the records, it should be a clean slate and a start from scratch for everybody, and include all athletes, not just from the 80s or 90s, but everybody."

'We need everybody to get off their couches'

Both former athletes are in Scotland to take part in Sunday's first Stirling Marathon.

"I've run loads of times round Stirling, Dundee, Perth and I think it's about time we had calibre races back in Scotland," McColgan said.

"It's just fantastic we've got races here on Scottish soil. I hope all the Scots get really inspired again, because we were an endurance running nation that were really, really good.

Laura Muir wins the Edinburgh Cross County event
Laura Muir, 24, is a double European Indoor champion in the 1500 and 3,000m

"We've got youngsters coming through like Andy Butchart, Laura Muir, Eilish, my daughter, and Lynsey Sharp. We just need everybody else now to get off their couches, get out, run, and make running really popular in Scotland again.

"Even just at our age to get out and be active, to show people our age can still get out there and do it. That's what we're here for - hopefully we finish in one piece."

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