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RE: A closer look at EPO-era performances

Inquiry minds want to know wrote:
Why did you leave out the 800 for both men & women? Isn't the 800 an endurance event? Last time I checked it's not listed as a sprint. Additionally, why did you also leave out the women's steeplechase? There's been some top performing women in that event sanctioned for hematological anomalies.

I thought my choice of 11 different events, from the 1500m to the marathon, men and women, would be representative enough.
Nevertheless I gave the exact "method" I used, so everyone can feel free to confirm my numbers, or evaluate other events.
Generally, I was afraid that the picture with EPO in the 800m is not so clear because of the bigger role steroids might play.
At quick glance, the men's 800m would have about 5 athletes (all East African from 4 countries) meeting the cutoff (around 1:42.3), progressing maybe 0.5%, with only two athletes beating Seb Coe's 1981 world record.
In the women's 800m, 5 of the top 6 times are pre-EPO, in the 1980's. The only post-1990 result would be one performance from Pamela Jelimo.
Either way, EPO doesn't appear to have made much impact for the 800m since 1990.
For the women's 3000m steeple, I don't find any results before 1996, so can't generate a pre-1990 cutoff.

Deanouk wrote:
Great analysis Rekrunner, which shows, in my eyes at least, that there was a big impact on standards post 1990 from EPO.
And the fact that the % improvement gets greater the longer the distance, reinforces that further.

3 things that sprung to mind are:

1) When stating there has been a 1.1% improvement in the 1500m for the top 5 East African men post 1990, compared to the pre 1990 top 5 average, isn't it relevant that of the 5 men in that pre 1990 group, 2 were British? Wouldn't it be even more telling if you used the average of the top 5 East African performers pre 1990, when looking at the % improvement in that group post EPO? In which case I think you'll see an ever bigger % improvement.

2) Despite the nonsense spouted by others on here, I do think that there has been a slight improvement in the general speed of tracks since 1990, although how much that is I don't know.

3) Have you tried doing the same analysis with bigger sample groups? Probably not yet as I can imagine its very time consuming, but maybe you could repeat for the top 10 performers?


Thanks. I can't help your eyes, but there certainly was a big impact from East Africans, a medium impact from North Africans, and a small impact from everyone else. I have no way of knowing if it was from EPO.

1) Before 1990, all nations were fairly competitive with each other, so I didn't think splitting that up would bring much value, and I thought using the same reference for all groups was more valuable.
3) I wanted to compare "top 5" before and after, to compare like things. I would hestitate to do this for the women, as it was already difficult to find a good "Top 5" in the longer events. For the men, with a mature "1980's cutoff", there often isn't a top 10 outside of East Africa.

One man, 52 weekends, 52 marathons wrote:
Is there a Cliff's Notes version ?

Quantity of the men's events respectively:
- how many non-Africans beat the "1980s cutoff": 2, 9, 2, 8, 5, 12
- how many North-Africans beat the "1980s cutoff": 8, 12, 5, 13, 5, 6
- how many East-Africans beat the "1980s cutoff": 16, 49, 25, 91, 101, 183
Quality of the men's events respectively:
- the best 5 non-Africans "progressed": 0.3%, 0.5%, 0.7%, 0.8%, 0.7%, 0.7%
- the best 5 North-Africans "progressed": 0.9%, 1.5%, 1.1%, 1.5%, 0.9%, 0.9%
- the best 5 East-Africans "progressed": 1.1%, 1.6%, 2.3%, 2.6%, 3.0%, 3.2%
Why so few, by so little, from five continents over almost three decades?

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