Doubts about Bailey record

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Donovan Bailey's world indoor 50 metres record is under threat following doubts over his start in the Nevada event.

Bailey, the world 100m champion, won the race in Nevada on 9 February in 5.56sec, beating the previous mark of 5.61 set by Manfred Kokot of East Germany in 1973 and equalled by the American James Sandford in 1981.

But this week's Grand Prix standings did not include any world record bonus points for Bailey's result in Reno. Bob Hersh, chairman of the men's records panel for USA Track and Field, confirmed in a statement: "The ratification of Bailey's record is questionable."

Bailey insisted none of the athletes at the Reno Air Games had complained to him about the start. "I think I had a very good start," the Canadian said. "I think it's silly to be commenting on a tape when you couldn't see the gun."

Hersh said he attended the games and had seen videotape of the race. "I did not have a very good view of it live, but from the tape it appears to have been a false start," he said.

"Unfortunately, the tape is not absolutely conclusive in that it does not show the gun. But it does show that Bailey was out of the blocks way ahead of everyone else, and when that happens with a field as good as the one in Reno, it's very likely because he jumped the gun.

"We should not endorse this or any other record unless we are convinced that everything was proper and in order."

Hersh said no decision has yet been made on whether his organisation will submit the record to the International Amateur Athletic Federation. A record must first be ratified by the governing body in the country in which it is set before it is sent to the IAAF for approval.

The Canada president, Alex Gardiner, said he wrote to Hersh to urge that Bailey's record stand. "There was no recall by the chief starter, no recall by the recall starter, no protest from any officials, no comment by any of the other sprinters. The final discretion is up to the starter," Gardiner said. "If world records are taken away from the due process and into committee decisions, it's no different from a basketball referee reviewing a videotape a week later and reversing a call."