4. The IAAF Bans Male Pacers

Paula Radcliffe loses, then regains, her world record

Paula Radcliffe wins the New York City Marathon in 2008

Paula Radcliffe wins the New York City Marathon in 2008     Photo: fergie lancealot/Wikimedia

Do women who run with male pace setters get an unnatural or unfair advantage? According to the International Association of Athletics Federations, the answer is yes, to both, and in August the body moved to strip male-paced times from the women’s record books.

That decision came as a blow to world record holder Paula Radcliffe, who ran alongside pacers when she set the standing mark of 2:15:25 at the London Marathon in 2005. A spokesman for the IAAF said the organization was worried that “there was too much of a difference” between races with male rabbits and races without them and decided they had had enough.

The merits of the decision, not to mention their implications for records set in open or mixed-gender races, remain a bit muddy. But the IAAF was widely condemned for making the rule retroactive and stripping Radcliffe of her mark even though she hadn’t broken any rules in 2005. Thankfully, Radcliffe and sponsor Nike objected, and in November the IAAF elected to implement the rule beginning in 2012.

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