European Athletics President Svein Arne Hansen has admitted "most" world and European records in the sport may have to be replaced ©European Athletics

European Athletics President Svein Arne Hansen has admitted "most" world and European records in the sport may have to be replaced after the organisation's Council approved recommendations made by their Project Team.

Following a European Athletics Council meeting in Paris, it was also decided that a number of European Athlete of the Year Awards and European Athletics Coaching Awards should be revoked "subject to legal review".

The European Records Credibility Project Team's report, which was given the unanimous approval of the Council, will be forwarded to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) so the two organisations can "coordinate the implementation of new record ratification rules".

The process, described as "radical" by the governing body, will eventually lead to the rewriting of the world and European records list in the sport, European Athletics said.

It means records set before 2005 could all be wiped.

This includes marks set by athletes such as Wilson Kipketer of Denmark in the 800 metres, 110m hurdler Colin Jackson of Britain and his compatriot and triple jumper Jonathan Edwards.

Britain's Paula Radcliffe could also lose her records in events such as the 10,000m and mixed race marathon.

She criticised the decision in a post on Twitter, accusing European Athletics of being "heavy handed" and "cowardly".

European records from East Germans are also likely to be wiped, with the vast majority of the performances coming when the country operated a state-run doping programme.

Resetting world records would need the official approval of the IAAF.

The recommendations made by the Project Team, spearheaded by Ireland's Pierce O'Callaghan, include that records can only be set by athletes who have had a specified number of doping control tests in the previous 12 months.

The exact number of tests has not yet been agreed.

Athletes may also be stripped of their place in the record books "at any time" if the competitor involved fails a drugs test, "even if it does not directly impact the record performance".

Samples from competitors who break a European record will now be stored for 10 years and must be made available for retesting.

IAAF President Sebastian Coe may lose two of his lesser-known European records ©Getty Images
IAAF President Sebastian Coe may lose two of his lesser-known European records ©Getty Images

Other proposals include ensuring records at senior level can only be set in a "restricted set of high-level competitions" where the IAAF can have "complete confidence" in officials at the event, as well as the timing and distance systems used.

It means records will not be able to be set at more minor athletics meetings.

Current records which do not meet the standards laid out by European Athletics would "remain on the all-time list", according to the governing body, but would no longer be officially recognised.

"When a record recognition is withdrawn, no immediate successor should be ratified but rather a limit should be set for a new record to be established at a future date," the report reads.

The recommendations state any athlete who loses their record should be referred to as a "former European record holder".

"Performance records that show the limits of human capabilities are one of the great strengths of our sport, but they are meaningless if people don't really believe them," said Hansen.

"What we are proposing is revolutionary, not just because most world and European records will have to be replaced but because we want to change the concept of a record and raise the standards for recognition to a point where everyone can be confident that everything is fair and above board.

"It's a radical solution for sure, but those of us who love athletics are tired of the cloud of doubt and innuendo that has hung over our records for too long. 

"We need decisive action to restore credibility and trust and I want to thank the project team, led by Pierce O'Callaghan, for their great work in showing us a way forward.

"This will now go to the IAAF Council Meeting in August and on behalf of European Athletics I will be encouraging them to adopt this proposal.

"In the meantime we will be checking with our legal advisors to make sure the new rules will stand up to any challenges that might come."

IAAF President Sebastian Coe, whose own 1,000 metres and 4x800m marks could be at risk as part of proposed new criteria, conceded there may be some opposition but that the step being taken would help restore credibility in the sport.

European Athletics President Svein Arne Hansen admitted it was a radical move ©Getty Images
European Athletics President Svein Arne Hansen admitted it was a radical move ©Getty Images

"I like this because it underlines that we [the governing bodies] have put into place doping control systems and technology that are more robust and safer than 15 or even ten years ago," said the Briton.

"Of course, for this to be adopted for world records by the IAAF it needs global approval from all Area Associations. 

"There will be athletes, current record holders, who will feel that the history we are recalibrating will take something away from them but I think this is a step in the right direction and if organised and structured properly we have a good chance of winning back credibility in this area."

Radcliffe was one of the first athletes affected by the decision and said she felt it "damages my reputation and dignity".

The 43-year-old could lose the world marathon record she set in London in 2003 of 2:15:25.

"I am hurt and do feel this damages my reputation and dignity," Radcliffe wrote on Twitter. 

"It is a heavy-handed way to wipe out some really suspicious records in a cowardly way by simply sweeping all aside instead of having the guts to take the legal plunge and wipe any record that would be found in a court of law to have been illegally assisted. 

"It is confusing to the public at a time when athletics is already struggling to market itself."

The Briton also questioned the timing of the move.

"Although we are moving forward I don't believe we are yet at the point where we have a testing procedure capable of catching every cheat out there," she added.

"So why reset at this point?

"Do we really believe a record set in 2015 is totally clean and one in 1995 not?"

The full report can be read here.