By Duncan Mackay

Paula_Radcliffe_with_world_record_clock_April_13_2003September 20 - The world's top marathons are to defy the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) over a controversial plan to strip Britain's Paula Radcliffe of her eight-year-old world record.

The IAAF Congress in Daegu last month passed a motion to change the standard by which female athletes achieve world record performances in road races.

By the new criterion, only times achieved in all-women competitions would be acknowledged for world record purposes, and performances achieved in mixed conditions would now be referred to only as "world best".

Under the new criteria, which is due to come into effect next January, Radcliffe's run of 2 hours 15min 25sec set at the 2003 London Marathon - a performance considered one of the greatest in history and on par with Usain Bolt's 100 metres mark of 9.58sec - would be stripped of its world record status.

The Briton, who is due to race in the Berlin Marathon on Sunday (September 25), would still be the world record holder as she ran 2:17:42 at London in 2005 in a women's only race.

But the race directors from the events that make up World Marathon Majors (WMM), including Boston, London and New York, and the Association of International Marathons (AIMS), which represents more than 300 events across the world, have warned that they will refuse to accept the IAAF decision. 

"The Boards of both WMM and AIMS have reviewed the recent Congress decision and believe that it does not represent what is required by the sport of road running," they said in a joint statement released today.

"They further believe that there should be two world records for women's road running performances, separately recognising those achieved in mixed competition and women's only conditions.

"AIMS and WMM will continue to acknowledge both types of performances as world records and will discuss this matter further with the IAAF, recognising that the vast majority of women's road races throughout the world are held in mixed conditions.

"The current situation where the fastest time is not now recognised as a record is confusing and unfair and does not respect the history of our sport."

A spokesman for the IAAF said that it was now up to the WMM and AIMS to argue their case if they wanted the rule change scrapped.

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