Without even leaving his Rancho Cucamonga home, Mike Powell had his MacArthuresque vow upon learning that his world record in the long jump was broken last Saturday--"I will get it back"--virtually fulfilled.
The Italian track and field federation declared Thursday that it will not submit Cuban Ivan Pedroso’s jump of 29 feet 4 3/4 inches at Sestriere, Italy, to the International Amateur Athletic Federation for record consideration because an observer possibly interfered with the wind reading by standing too close to the anemometer.
“Then it is finished,” IAAF General Secretary Istvan Gyulai said. “We will ask for a report--why? why?--because that is a big world record. But it has never happened before that a world record has been ratified without an application.”
Unless the IAAF Council takes unprecedented action, Powell’s record of 29-4 1/2 set four years ago at Tokyo will stand. That broke one of track and field’s most famous marks, the 29-2 1/2 set by Bob Beamon 23 years earlier during the Olympic Games at Mexico City.
Enrico Jacomini, spokesman for the Italian federation, said that five videotapes from Sestriere to be turned over to the IAAF--three by news organizations and two by amateurs--reveal that the man on the field, former Italian pole vaulter Luciano Gemello, stood within half a foot of the anemometer during six jumps, all by Pedroso.
Of 60 measured jumps in the men’s and women’s long jump and triple jump, only four had wind readings under the legal allowable of 2.0 meters per second. Three were on Pedroso’s jumps, including the 1.2 on his record effort. The preceding jump, by American Kareem Streete-Thompson, was aided by a wind of 4.4.
“It is absolutely clear that the man was standing right in front of the gauge for all of Pedroso’s jumps,” Jacomini said. “We have no reason to think he did it [to manipulate the result]. He claims that he was interested in Pedroso because he is a fan of long jumping and Pedroso was by far the best man in the field.
“But purposely or not purposely, he was there. We feel his presence affected the reading of the wind. That is our report. Now it is up to the IAAF to decide.”
Gyulai said the IAAF Council will probably make a final ruling before the men’s long jump begins next Friday in the World Championships, which open with a ceremony tonight at Ullevi Stadium.
Powell was ecstatic about the Italian federation’s action.
“Right now, I feel like I really, really appreciate what I have,” he said from Rancho Cucamonga. “I didn’t understand how important the world record was to me before it was broken. When I sign autographs, I can still sign, World record-holder.’ ”
As for Pedroso, Powell said: “His record was questionable from the beginning. If he wants to have the record, I’m sure he wants to have it legitimately.”
Pedroso, heavily favored here against the injured two-time defending champion Powell and three-time Olympic long jump champion Carl Lewis, could not be reached for comment after the Italians announced their decision, but he said at a Thursday morning news conference that he had prepared himself mentally for the possibility that the record would not be approved.
“I’m just waiting for the whole thing to be resolved,” he said.
Pedroso said he believes the record is valid because he waited for the gusting wind to subside before starting his approach, a contention supported by David Greifinger, attorney for the Santa Monica Track Club, who was standing about 10 yards from the takeoff board.
“Based on 20 years of experience, I know when the wind is blowing and when it’s not,” he said. “The wind died for him. The wind was not over 2.0. That’s wrong if they don’t ratify the record. That’s a robbery.”
Besides the record, Pedroso might also lose the $130,000 Ferrari 355 traditionally awarded to athletes who set world records at Sestriere. That, however, will have no immediate impact on his mode of transportation in his hometown of Havana because the 22-year-old college physical education student has no driver’s license.