He said, she said: Statmeisters clash over 15 world records

Record rift: Ivar Söderlind vs. Sandy Pashkin

A month ago, we reported how W40 Lisa Valle of Albuquerque made SI’s Faces in the Crowd, noting her great effort earlier in August: “(She) set a world age-group record in the 2K steeple at Lahti worlds. She
ran the race in 7:01.91, beating the listed record of 7:02.96 by
Italy’s Samia Soltane in 2008.”  Well sorry, Lisa. The previous month in Essen, Germany, the lady you edged in Lahti, 41-year-old Annette Weiss, ran the same race in 7:01.77. The Koops reported the Weiss WR on July 22, citing a report on the German DLV site. But we overlooked it. Our bad. But up in Sweden, Ivar Söderlind was taking note. He’s the records czar for the Eurovets, and his latest update of European masters records, dated September 24, is now posted here.  It’s an eye-opener and jaw-dropper. And not just for the incredible marks. 


Again we see the bizarre disconnect between listed WMA world records and world records claimed by the Eurovets. We count 15 cases where the EVAA lists a mark as a world record but WMA lists an entirely different mark.  In five cases, they list the same athletes as record-holders, but with different marks!

In only one case — the W70 4×400 relay — is the WMA mark superior to the mark cited as a world record by the EVAA. So call WMA 1-for-14 in the latest update.
What’s really infuriating is that WMA’s list of world age-group records was updated August 29, 2009 — well after Lahti worlds and with plenty of time for WMA records chair Sandy Pashkin to compare notes with Ivar and his Swedish colleague Ove Edlund. 
Especially mystifying is their clash over what M65 Rolf Geese and W65 Marianne Maier scored in their multis at Lahti. Sandy says Rolf’s WR decathlon total was 8260 points while Ivar says 8264. Sandy says Marianne scored 6573 in the heptathlon, while Ivar says 6579. 
Both record-holders are German. Both deserve a little closure. (Correction: Marianne is Austrian. My mistake –ken)

So here we are again: competing realities in masters records. 
In just a half-hour of bouncing between browsers, we discovered a dozen other differences between Ivar’s EVAA list (shown first) and Sandy’s WMA list:

M70 200
EVAA: 26.48 Guido Müller, GER 221238 München, GER 010709 
WMA: 26.55 Guido Müeller GER 70 21.05.09 Bad Albling

M50 3000
EVAA: 8:41.2 Christian Geffrey, FRA 040254 Maromme, FRA 070704 
WMA: 8:47.14 Johann Hopfner GER 50 10.08.07

W40 3000
EVAA: 9:04.60 Marina Ivanova, RUS 130262 Kazan, RUS 240605 
WMA: 9:11.2 Joyce Smith GBR 40 30.04.78 London

W60 3000
EVAA: 11:06.6 Angela Copson, GBR 200447 Solihull, GBR 160809 
WMA: 11:20.22 Janette Stevenson GBR 60 14.06.09 Dunfermline

W60 5000
EVAA: 18:59.44 Edeltraud Pohl, GER 140736 Menden, GER 290597 
WMA: 19:14.8 Marion Irvine USA 60 19.10.89

M90 10,000
EVAA: 62:21.5 Alfred Althaus, GER 171103 Athens, GRE 030694
WMA: 69:27.5 Gordon Porteous GBR 90 17.10.04 Coatbridge

W50 10,000
EVAA: 35:41.90 Gitte Karlshoej, DEN 140559 Aarhus, DEN 250809 
WMA: 36:34.24 Bernadine Portenski NZL 52 21.01.02 Inglewood

M35 high jump
EVAA: 2.31 Dragutin Topic, SRB 120371 Kragujevac, SRB 280709 
WMA: 2.29 Dragutin Topic SRB 37 20.06.09 Bergen

M50 triple jump
EVAA: 14.44 Wolfgang Knabe, GER 120759 Lübeck, GER 180709
WMA: 14.07 Stig Bäcklund FIN 50 04.07.90 Budapest

M65 shot put
EVAA: 15.90 Kurt Goldschmidt, GER 090343 Hamburg, GER 250509 
WMA: 15.78 Kurt Goldschmidt GER 65 12.07.08 Schweinfurt 

M80 shot put
EVAA: 13.98 Leo Saarinen, FIN 270629 Kangasala, FIN 150809 
WMA: 13.82 Arnie Gaynor USA 80 04.10.08 Santa Barbara 

W70 4×400
EVAA: 7:26.60 Russia Lahti, FIN 080809 
WMA: 6:12.25 Canada CAN 09.09.08 Calgary 

So now what do we do? 

Let’s start by admitting the obvious: This situation is a freakin’ mess! Athletes, fans and members of the media looking to WMA for world record certainty are misguided at best. WMA is supposed to be our Big Daddy. Instead, it’s our Drunk Uncle. 
And who are the enablers? Anyone in World Masters Athletics leadership who isn’t attempting to sort out this snafu.

And the Ivar list is only the tip of the iceberg. (And we compared only his latest updates to the WMA list, not the entire list of Eurovet records.)  
Over the years, we’ve documented dozens of WR mistakes, omissions and oversights. Here’s one dissection from back in February 2003.
So here’s our urgent call to action:  
1. New WMA President Stan Perkins should immediately appoint a blue-ribbon task force of respected statisticians and masters track historians to review every single record on the WMA books — indoors, outdoors and on the roads. 
2. The BRTF needs to review records reported on this blog, at EVAA and at other masters track sites, including Martin Gasselsberger’s authoritative mastersathletics.net and national records sites such as Germany’s (which also lists the Annette Weiss 2K steeple WR.) They also need to review the IAAF Top Lists for WR candidates in their late 30s and early 40s.
3. This BRTF needs to report back to Stan in a sensible time frame — six months? And their report should include a set of corrected records that meet high standards but don’t sweep legitimate bests under an anal-retentive rug.
4. This BRTF should bring to the General Assembly in Sacramento 2011 proposed revisions in the WMA Constitution and bylaws that make record-keeping more realistic and transparent. They should demand full use of technology, allowing for speedier posting of pending records on the WMA Web site. And rules should allow for appeals of rejected records.
5. Finally, WMA must revise and expand the job description for the Records Committee chairman, making sure that person publicly reveals every record submission and reasons for ratification or rejection.
Only then will masters track have records we can trust. 
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September 29, 2009

10 Responses

  1. Mary Harada - September 29, 2009

    Weird – very weird – and also very strange!
    The WR for W 70- 4 x 400 – as recognized by WMA – was the mark set by the wonderful Canadian women last fall . They broke the WR set by 4 US women in Riccione in 2007. (Deprano, Pell, Harada, Jordan – 6:26.99) Both marks were much better than the Lahti mark allegedly set by the Russians this summer.
    And on top of that – The Russian W 70 teams finished SECOND to the USA team.
    The winning time for the USA team was 7:15.40 and the Russian women fnished in 7:26.60. Both teams had 80 year old competitors thus making the finish times pretty slow. How on earth does EVAA get a WR for a phantom time for the Russians? I have cut and paste the official results for the W 70 4 x 400 relay in Lahti.
    Heat 1
    Rank # Name / Nat Result React
    1 United States USA
    United States 7.15,40
    Sumi Onodera-Leonard, Mary Harada, Becky Sisley, Jean Daprano
    2 Russia RUS
    Russia 7.26,60
    Galina Borisova, Natalia Aseeva, Nina Naumenko, Maria Borokova
    Powered by

  2. Tom Phillips - September 29, 2009

    Yes, that reference to the Russian time in Lahti for W70 4×4 being a WR definitely looks flaky.
    What surprises me is how performances from ten or more years ago suddenly come out of the woodwork and get declared as Euro or World records. Not all the red entries on the Euro list are from 2009 by any means. Is there the same rigor applied to checking these old marks?
    I was also amused to see that EVAA have decided that the only results they will accept for record purposes are those in the current EVAA Championships, and then promptly make an exception for the 3,000m, and also list a number of throws marks with old-weight implements.

  3. Mary Harada - September 29, 2009

    I did not comment on the other records as I do not have first hand knowledge about them – but indeed – “the world” now seems to mean “EVAA countries comprise all of the world” – the rest of us live in a different solar system. Or maybe it is “the old world” vs the new world!
    Having just taken a look at the record sheets – did anyone notice that ALL the record holders are Europeans – NO ONE outside of Europe is named as a record holder. The list is that of EUROPEAN RECORD HOLDERS, perhaps some of the marks are also World Records – and I see a number that are – but gimme a break – not all the World Records are held by Europeans. Quick someone call up the Eurovets and tell them that new continents have been discovered, and they have track and field competitors too.

  4. pino pilotto - September 29, 2009

    Argh! Forget all those lists! They are all in part wrong. All.
    Just jump, throw, run!
    Do you remember Quercetani? No? Forget it! We are in the electronic age.
    I am sad.
    And Marianne Maier is also swiss, but she starts for Austria. She is not German.
    But: Forget it.
    I am sad.
    I, for my part, jumprunandthrow. And I have my own lists. Right or wrong – my lists.

  5. Tom Phillips - September 29, 2009

    Mary,
    I’ve no problem with the list of European Record holders all being Europeans! It would be strange if they were not. The EVAA list is of European records, but it also shows where the relevant European record is also a WR. It doesn’t purport to show all the WRs belong to Europe. I fear you may have read it wrongly.
    But as Pino says, we’re being drawn in too deep. I’m happy to have Ken crusade on my behalf!
    Tom

  6. peter taylor - September 29, 2009

    Well, well, well. Controversies about records; who would have thought it?
    I’m reminded of those crazy television shows in which a single physician works as a cardiologist, surgeon, intensivist, pathologist, and psychiatrist all at the same time. Amazing. Maybe, as Messrs. Pilotto and Phillips are perhaps suggesting, we have gone too far. Just as real physicians do not have 5 to 10 specialties, perhaps the keeping of masters records for the entire world is just too much right now.
    Currently we have a great deal to do just to bring our U.S. records up to date. Perhaps instead of saying “that’s a world record” (and risking being wrong) we can just say “that’s a masters record” and mean “for the U.S.” Instead of having one hard-working masters chair we could have a commmittee of 9, as follows:
    1. Sprints and hurdles. (2) Middle distance and steeplechase. (3) Long distances. (4) Racewalking. (5) Shotput and discus. (6) All other throws. (7) Vertical jumps. (8) Horizontal jumps. (9) Combined events. One of these 9 people would be the chair, and each one would be a “scout” in her/his own area.
    These people would be very much aware of the performances in their own specialty, and athletes and meet directors would e-mail them. In most cases they would know about an American record within 48 hours. Every month the committee of 9 would vote on new records; a 7 to 2 vote would mean it was accepted. Sounds crazy? Well, look what we have now.
    Perhaps we could simply let the issue of world records sort itself out for 3 to 5 years until it gets to be a rational process. In the interim, we could perfect our American system. I am just winging it here, but when things are going poorly you have to try something new.

  7. Diane Palmason - September 29, 2009

    First, thank to Mary for calling my W70 4X400 relay “wonderful women”. We were a good group (McCarron, Reed, Visser, Palmason)
    As for Peter’s suggestion – and I think I’ve written about this on this blog before – in Canada we have a group of “Record Directors”, some of whose names you may recognize: Track and Field- indoor and outdoor: Bill McIlwaine; Racewalking:Sherry Watts; Combined Events: John Hawkins; Throws- Indoor, Outdoor, Weight Pentathlon: Rhona Trott; Relays: Harold Morioka; and Road Running: Ed Whitlock. These people keep our Canadian records up-to-date, and are responsible for forwarding any World records to WMA. So it was Harold Morioka who did the paperwork for our 4 X 400 W70 WR.
    Good luck to our American masters in setting up a similar process – and perhaps modelling for WMA how their Record process could be handled. Maybe one “overseer”, with a committee of “directors (or whatever) for various disciplines/event groups.
    Diane

  8. Ken Stone - September 30, 2009

    Meanwhile, the IAAF has ratified records set at Berlin — which came AFTER Lahti.
    http://www.iaaf.org/news/kind=101/newsid=54523.html

  9. peter taylor - October 1, 2009

    Sounds great, Diane. But as you can see from the paucity of comments on this story, the subject of records is no longer a big issue to the readers of this blog. Or maybe it is, but they are just beaten to death on this subject and don’t want to hear about it any longer.
    Let’s see, Canada has 6 record directors, and the U.S. has 1. The last time I looked, there were 9.1 people in the US for every Canadian (total population); if Canada has 6 directors we should have 54.6, which I will round to 55. Maybe, however, we could get by with 17, with a vote of 13 to 4 counting for ratification.
    Just checked the status of the mark I consider the best by a US master in any event this year –the widely reported 16:19.51 in the 5000 run by W50 sensation (and Olympian) Monica Joyce at the Mt. SAC Relays this past April. Under any reasonable system that would now be the American mark; at worst it would be “pending.” No, Shirley Matson still has the mark at 17:25.6, and Monica is not even “pending.” Oh, well.
    As noted, this seems to be a forgotten issue or perhaps neglected. Even I am getting a little tired of it. Set a record and don’t get recognized; what else is new?

  10. Ivar Söderlind of Eurovets posts latest records at odds with WMA - October 29, 2011

    […] Ottey &#959n July 18, 2011. I’m afraid t&#959 compare &#959th&#1077r records. I’ve done th&#1072t before &#1072nd g&#959t sick t&#959 m&#1091 […]

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