American Ryan Whiting declares Tom Walsh the greatest 'clean' shot putter ever

Veteran US shot putter Ryan Whiting has declared Kiwi Tom Walsh the greatest "clean" shot putter in history, after his record-reaking feats over the weekend.

At Sunday's Sir Graeme Douglas International Meet in Auckland, Walsh heaved the 7.26kg orb out to 22.67m, equalling the world's sixth-best performer and ninth-best distance of all-time.

The Timaru builder added 46cm to his national outdoor record, which was also the Oceania and Commonwealth record, and was 36cm further than his indoor best, set while defending his world title in Birmingham earlier this month.    

But while Walsh was still 45cm short of the official world mark of 23.12m, set by American Randy Barnes in 1990, Whiting has no doubts that he deserves to be regarded as the true record-holder.

And he doesn't think we've seen the best of our boy yet.

"For me, what he did today was the 'clean' world record," says Whiting, who finished second with 20.99m.

"All the guys in the '80s and '90s were as dirty as can be, and I think Tom's now the top of what you've seen as a clean shot putter.

"He tends to do best in major championships and he's proven that in the last three years - he's won an indoor title, an Olympic bronze, one outdoors title and now another indoors.

"When you get on a roll like that in a big championship, you're physically a little more peaked than he was in this meet. Today, with that 22.67, I thought that was building towards the big one."

Walsh's bombshell was the furthest throw since April 2003, when American Kevin Toth lobbed the same distance. The following year, Toth was suspended for a positive drugs test and promptly retired from the sport. 

Just months after his world record, Barnes was also banned for 27 months for steroid use and eventually received a lifetime ban in 1998 for another positive test.

Significantly, all those distances ranked higher than Walsh were achieved between 1975-90, an era tarnished by some of track and field's most notorious drug cheats. Clearly, Whiting doesn't place too much credibility on any of those performances.

Last year, European Athletics proposed to the IAAF that all pre-2005 world records be wiped from existence, due to inadequate drug testing before that date. If adopted, that would leave Walsh - officially - atop the rankings.

His latest big effort was just two centimetres further than the best by US rival Ryan Crouser, whom Whiting regarded as the previous "clean" champion.

Whiting, 32, held the Waitakere Trusts Stadium record until Walsh's second-round rocket and was a two-time world indoor champion until the Kiwi won his first in 2016. His 22.28m best puts him 16th among all-time performers.

On his third visit to New Zealand, Whiting obviously enjoys the company of his host and rival, and expects to be invited back soon for a special occasion.

"Next time I come down, I'll bring my family - my wife and two kids - and I expect it will be for somebody's wedding."