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Athletics legend Haile Gebresillassie supports scrapping of pre-2005 world records


Haile Gebrselassie (C) celebrates after winning the 35th Berlin Marathon on September 28, 2008 in Berlin, Germany with a new world record. The record was broken by Kenya's Patrick Macau in 2011 (Photo: Getty Images)

by Haileegziabher Adhanom, AIPS Young Reporter, Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA, May 23, 2017 - Haile Gebresillassie, one of the greatest athletes of all time, a former multiple long-distance world and national record holder, Olympic and World Champion joined in on one of the most controversial and highly debated athletics discussions to date. The current President of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation confirmed exclusively to AIPS Media, that he is in favor of the proposal forwarded by European Athletics to scrap all world records set before 2005, and to begin a new chapter free from mistrust of doping.


“As long as it is for good reasons, for athletics, I support this idea. I learnt about the proposal by European Athletics from different sources, and if that is to bring integrity and faith to the sport I am fully behind it,” Gebresillassie said.


The Ethiopian, regarded as the greatest distance runner in history set more than 20 world records on the track and roads throughout his career. Asked about whether he would have supported the scrapping of records, if the records under his own name were still there, Gebreselassie explained:


“As you know, most of my world records were taken pre-2005. Even though I don’t have any record to be scrapped off at this moment, it will still affects my legacy like the rest of my generation – the clean athletes who did our necessary pre and post-race tests when we were asked to.


“But I want to see the bigger picture here,” the long-distance runner continued. “Why? If this issue was raised to rebuild the trust in my sport, athletics, as it is being said, then yes! I will support the idea, and I would have supported it knowing that I had to lose my world records as well.”


Haile Gebreselassie emphasized that even though he is supporting the general idea of the scrapping, he will also respect any athletes’ individual battle to keep their records by any means. This includes world women’s marathon record holder Great Britain’s Paula Radcliff, who has threatened to take legal action, if the proposal of European Athletics gets approval at the IAAF Council Meeting in London on 31 July.