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Saturday, August 19, 2006

An adjusted World Record progression

With the Jones affair finally coming out the way we figured it would, it's time to revisit an interesting statistical situation.

Since about 1990, when random out-of-competition testing was finally introduced in the wake of the Ben Johnson scandal, most women's world records have not been seriously threatened. Within the next two years the eastern European totalitarian Communist regimes fell and their state-sponsored doping programs went with them. Prior to 1990, "doping control" was in name only; in practical terms drug use was basically not prohibited.

So a stat-head such as myself finds it useful to begin a new world record progression in 1992. To further make sense of what we have, I only use marks by athletes who have never been caught doping (and also ignore strange one-off results by Chinese athletes in 1993 and 1997). In the sprints, it's a very interesting change. Here's what I've got; if I accidentally include someone who has taken a "doping vacation", please let me know and I'll fix it.

10.94 Carlette Guidry USA New York 6/14/1991
10.82 Irina Privalova RUS Moscow 6/22/1992
10.82 Gail Devers USA Lausanne 7/7/1993
10.82 Gail Devers USA Stuttgart 8/16/1993
10.82 Gwen Torrance USA Paris 9/3/1994
10.82 Gwen Torrance USA Atlanta 6/15/1996
10.73 Christine Arron FRA Budapest 8/19/1998

That last time by Arron sticks out like a sore thumb. Her career second-best time, 10.81, was in the semis at the same meet (the 1998 European Championships). After that, her best is 10.85.

In short, be suspicious of anyone who can consistently run sub-10.8. Sherone Simpson has put up 10.87 and 10.82 this year; no red flags here.


Anonymous said...

I can't believe you think Gail Devers is clean, I bet you think Flo-jo was clean as well.

The Track & Field Superfan said...

Did I say she was clean? I merely said she was never caught. There's a world of difference there.

PITT2715 said...

What happened to Evelyn Ashford on this list? In the Olympic 100 meters, she took 5th in Montreal at the age of 19, probably would have won in 1980 if not for the boycott of the Moscow games, won in LA in 1984 and later beat doped-up Marlies Gohr of East Germany in the Weltklasse meet in Zurich to set the world record of 10.76, and finished second to doped-up FloJo in 1988 in Seoul, plus her stellar relay legs on the 4x100m relay.