The major cycling "Grand Tours" have shown an attenuation of performance over the last decade. This has been interpreted as circumstantial evidence that newer anti-doping strategies have reduced the use of performance-enhancing drugs. To examine this idea under more controlled conditions, speed trends for world class 5000 m, 10000 m, and marathon performances by men from 1980 to 2013 were analyzed. We obtained comprehensive records from the International Association of Athletics Federations, Association of Road Racing Statisticians, and the Track and Field All-time Performances database webpages. The top 40 performances for each event and year were selected for regression analysis. For the three distances, we noted cumulative performance improvements in the 1990s thru the mid-2000s. After the peak speed years of the mid 2000 s, there has been limited improvement in the 5000 m and 10,000 m and world records set during that time remain in place today, marking the longest period of time between new records since the early 1940s. By contrast marathon speed continues to increase and the world record has been lowered four times since 2007, including in 2013. While the speed trends for 5000 m and 10000 m track results parallel those seen in elite cycling, the marathon trends do not. We discuss a number of explanations other than improved anti-doping strategies that might account for these divergent findings.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)