Over the years, athletics has seen some incredible record-breaking efforts, both individually and collectively. Astonishingly, some of these records still stand to this very day; which sparks the debate – were these athletes drug enhanced, or just remarkable talents? We’ve explored the archives and pulled out some of the longest standing, potentially unbeatable world records…
Jurgen Schult (East Germany) – 74.08m, 1986
Due to his country’s boycott of the 1984 Olympics, Schult was unable to compete, but he sure made up for it a couple of years later in Neubrandenburg by throwing the discus further than any man has ever managed – a massive 74.08m. The only athlete to ever really come close to this mammoth throw was Double Olympic and world champion Virgilijus Alekna of Lithuania, when he threw a distance of 73.88m in 2000.
Performance Enhancing Substances? Probably.
Women’s high jump
Stefka Kostadinova (Bulgaria) – 2.09m, 1987
Approaching the 30 year-old mark, the Bulgarian’s high jump record is something truly staggering. Having said this, the modern athletes have come close to beating it; most recently in 2009, when Blanka Vlasic fell 1cm short of Kotadinova’s record.
Performance Enhancing Substances? I'ts doubtful.
Yuriy Sedykh (USSR) – 86.75m, 1986
After winning two golds and one silver medal at the Olympics, Sedykh hurled the hammer a whopping 86.75 at the 1986 European Championships in Stuttgart. Remarkably, his USSR team mate Sergey Litvinov is the only athlete to come anywhere near Sedykh’s record by throwing a 86.04m in the very same games. Coincidence? Hmm.
Performance Enhancing Substances? Most likely.
Women’s long jump
Galina Christyakova (USSR) – 7.52m, 1988
Yet another athlete from the Sovient Union, Christyakova, jumped 7.52m in St Petersburg, 1988. That year she also took a bronze medal in the Seoul Olympics - her closest threat came 6 years later in 1994, from the three-time Olympic champion Jackie Joyner-Kersee of the United States, who made a jump of 7.49m. In recent years, the record has barely been challenged; with Brittney Reese’s 7,25m attempt being the closest, but still a fair way off!
Performance Enhancing Substances? A very strong possibility.
Florence Griffith Joyner (USA) – 10.49sec, 1988
In what was potentially the most controversial record break of all time; the American sprinter ‘Flo-Jo’ shattered the 100m record with an incredible time of 10.49 seconds. Miles ahead of the field, Flo-Jo really was the Usain Bolt of her time. Or was she? At the age of 38, Griffith Joyner died of supposedly natural causes, which raised suspicions among many that her premature death may have been steroid-induced. Her transformation from a regular athlete to the fastest woman in the word was remarkable; and none of it seemed natural – particularly her physical appearance. The sudden muscular frame and deeper voice were clear for all to see. More interestingly, Flo-Jo announced her abrupt retirement soon after it was declared that random drug testing would be brought into the sport. Carmelita Jeter has come the closest to with a time of 10.64; a whole 0.15 adrift.
Performance Enhancing Substances? Absolutely.
Marita Koch (East Germany) 47.6sec, 1985
Koch ran a phenomenal time of 47.6 in 1985, beating the previous world record of 48.99 set by Antonia Krivoshapka in 1983. Krivosphapka had another bite of the cherry in the Russian Championship a few years later, but could only manage a time of 49.16. Krivoshapka recently admitted to breaching ant—doping regulations, which provoked suspicions that Koch had also used performance-enhancing drugs to achieve her outstanding record. According to old documents written by East German scientists working for the drug research program, Koch was among the many GDR athletes that were administered a dosage of anabolic steroids between the years of 1981 and 1984.
Performance Enhancing Substances? It would certainly appear so.
Jarmila Kratochvilova (Czechoslovakia) – 1min 53.28sec, July 1983
The longest standing record in athletics history: set by the Czech runner Jarmila Kratochilova at the Munich World Championships, 1983. 34 years on, the incredible record still remains untouched. Modern athletes have struggled to get anywhere near Kratochvilova’s time; Caster Semenya’s gold-winning run of 1.55.28 in Rio 2016 has been the nearest rival in the recent years. Considering that run was the fastest in the past four outdoor seasons, it just goes to show how ridiculous Kratochvilova’s record is. Her seemingly impossible fast time, and extremely muscular physique sparked rumours of illegal drug use. Although it was never discovered nor confirmed, there has been claims that the Czechosolvakia’s Communuist government used to administer a doping program for its top athletes.
Performance Enhancing Substances? 100%.