A Look at the Women’s World Records When We Remove The Chinese Records and Wang Junxia’s Amazing Six Days From the Books

By LetsRun.com
February 6, 2016

According to state media reports in China, 1996 Olympic champion and women’s 3,000/10,000 world record holder Wang Junxia admitted to participating in a state-sponsored doping regime under coach Ma Junren during the 1990s. The confession came in a letter signed by Junxia and nine teammates in 1995 that was sent to journalist Zhao Yu; the letter had not surfaced until it was published by China’s Tencent Sports on Wednesday.

Junxia set the world record in the 10,000 meters on September 8, 1993, in Beijing, running 29:31.78, a mark that bested the previous record by 42 seconds and began arguably the most impressive six day stretch by a distance athlete in the sport. Junxia proceeded to break the 3,000-meter world record twice (lowering it from 8:22.62 to 8:12.19 on September 12 before running 8:06.11 the next day) and was denied the 1500 WR on September 11 only because a teammate, Qu Yunxia, beat her to the line.

The IAAF said that is currently seeking to verify the letter and in a statement (reported by the Daily Mail) said that it may move to strike the records of Junxia and the other members of “Ma’s Army” from the books. The statement reads in part:

“In any case, IAAF Competition Rule 263.3 (e) note (ii) clearly states that if anyone makes an admission of guilt, the IAAF can take action: if an athlete has admitted that, at some time prior to achieving a World Record, he had used or taken advantage of a substance or technique prohibited at that time, then, subject to the advice of the Medical and Anti-Doping Commission, such record will not continue to be regarded as a World Record by the IAAF.”

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If we remove the marks of Junxia and the other Junren-coached Chinese athletes from the record books, here’s what we’re left with for the top women’s outdoor marks in the distance events:


Name Country Time Date
Genzebe Dibaba Ethiopia 3:50.07 7/17/2015
Tatyana Kazankina* USSR 3:52.47 8/13/1980
Paula Ivan Romania 3:53.96 10/1/1988
Olga Dvirna USSR 3:54.23 7/27/1982
Hassiba Boulmerka Algeria 3:55.30 8/8/1992

*suspended for 18 months in 1984 for refusing to take a drug test; never raced again

Athletes removed: Qu Yunxia (3:50.46), Bo Jiang (3:50.98), Lang Yinglai (3:51.34), Wang Junxia (3:51.92), Yin Lili (3:53.91), Lan Lixin (3:53.97), Zhang Ling (3:54.52), Dong Yanmei (3:55.07)


Name Country Time Date
Hellen Obiri Kenya 8:20.68 5/9/2014
Mercy Cherono Kenya 8:21.14 5/9/2014
Gabriela Szabo Romania 8:21.42 7/19/2002
Sonia O’Sullivan Ireland 8:21.64 7/15/1994
Paula Radcliffe Great Britain 8:22.20 7/19/2002

Athletes removed: Wang Junxia (8:06.11), Qu Yunxia (8:12.18), Zhang Linli (8:16.50), Ma Liyan (8:19.78), Zhou Yihong (8:21.84)


Name Country Time Date
Tirunesh Dibaba Ethiopia 14:11.15 6/6/2008
Meseret Defar Ethiopia 14:12.88 7/22/2008
Almaz Ayana Ethiopia 14:14.32 5/17/2015
Genzebe Dibaba Ethiopia 14:15.41 7/4/2015
Vivian Cheruiyot Kenya 14:20.87 7/29/2011

Athletes removed: none


Name Country Time Date
Meselech Melkamu Ethiopia 29:53.80 6/14/2009
Tirunesh Dibaba Ethiopia 29:54.66 8/15/2008
Elvan Abeylegesse* Turkey 29:56.34 8/15/2008
Meseret Defar Ethiopia 29:59.20 7/11/2009
Paula Radcliffe Great Britain 30:01.09 8/6/2002

*it was reported in August that Abelegesse will be charged with a doping violation stemming from the 2007 World Championships but her results and records have yet to be stripped

Athletes removed: Wang Junxia (29:31.78)

A few comments:

  • After removing the Chinese results, it becomes apparent just how much of an outlier Dibaba’s 1500 world record is. She’s over two seconds ahead of the nearest non-Chinese woman, and that runner, Tatyana Kazankina, has been linked to doping as well. In fact, the 1500 list is so crowded with suspicious names, whether they’re Chinese, Eastern European, or Turkish, that it’s extremely hard to tell which performances are genuine.
  • The 5,000, the only women’s distance world record to be routinely challenged (until Dibaba broke the 1500 WR in ’15) had no Chinese women in the top seven.
  • Many of the women’s track and field records are suspect, but few more than Junxia’s marks. Consider that in the span of six days in 1993, she produced the following performances:
Date Event Time
9/8/1993 10000m 29:31.78 WR
9/10/1993 1500m 4:01.55
9/11/1993 1500m 3:51.92
9/12/1993 3000m 8:12.19 WR
9/13/1993 3000m 8:06.11 WR

It’s impossible to know for sure whether any mark achieved by any athlete is clean but by removing some of the           egregious Chinese women’s distance marks, the IAAF can take a step in the right direction.


Discuss the report on the LRC messageboards here:

MB: Report: Chinese 10,000 WR holder Wang Junxia admitted to Chinese doping in 1995

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