Athletics: Video threat to record

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A man in a blue jacket appears to have put paid to the world long jump record set in Sestriere last Saturday by Ivan Pedroso, writes Mike Rowbottom.

The Cuban cleared 8.96 metres at the high altitude venue, but video evidence supplied by an amateur cameraman threw the validity of the effort into doubt, showing the mysterious spectator in blue standing close to the apparatus which measures wind speed. Italian athletics officials said yesterday they would ask the International Amateur Athletic Federation not to ratify the record.

The circumstantial evidence is not encouraging for the new mark. Officials said that only four of the 60 attempts in the long jump and triple jump competitions on a chilly, windy day were legal - and that three of these were by Pedroso.

Enrico Jacomini, an Italian spokesman, said the evidence showed Luciano Gemello, a coach from Turin, standing in front of the measuring machine alongside the track just before Pedroso started his approach.

"One film we have seen shows the man turning his belly in front of the machine from around 20 centimetres away," Jacomini said. "He was there at all of Pedroso's jumps. In our full investigation, we have talked to the man involved and he says he was keen to see Pedroso jump.''

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