Olympic sprint relay champion Mark Lewis-Francis has welcomed a proposal from the sport's policy makers to tighten the false start regulations.

Lewis-Francis, who won gold on the anchor leg of Britain's 4x100 metres at last year's Athens Olympiad, believes instant disqualification for every jumped gun would 'level the playing field' and reduce the mind games that have started to blight the blue riband 100m event.

He added that in an ideal world there would be a return to the old regulations, where each competitor was allowed one false start, but accepted that it was unlikely.

"If you ask most sprinters in the world they would favour a return to the old ruling but that is not going to happen," the Birchfield Harrier said.

"This would be a much fairer system. I have been caught out with the current system a few times so this is a better direction for the sport to go. It will make it a far more level playing field."

In a bid to "prevent gamesmanship", athletics' governing body the IAAF yesterday put forward the proposal to disqualify any athlete making a false start.

At present, any athlete can false start once, but any competitor who does so a second time is disqualified.

The scheme will go before the IAAF Congress in August for confirmation, just ahead of the World Championships in Helsinki.

"The opinion of a majority of council members was that this rule change would prevent gamesmanship, by penalising those athletes who deliberately false start to unsettle their rivals," said IAAF General Secretary Istvan Gyulai.

"But this is just a recommendation, and Congress will take a decision in Helsinki," he said.

Lewis-Francis was disqualified on his last visit to Birmingham when he was one of three athletes who were ruled out of the 60m final at February's meeting in the National Indoor Arena.

After the one permitted false start, Francis Obikwelu, the Olympic 100m runner-up, from Portugal, was disqualified. Mark Findlay, who has dual British and Trinidadian citizenship, followed then Lewis-Francis was embarrassed on his home track.

That reinforced the theory that some runners were using the existing regulations to wage psychological battles with their rivals, building up tension and affecting each others' concentration.

America's former Olympic and three-time world champion Maurice Greene is known to indulge in such antics and was central to the uncertainty that spoiled the Birmingham final.

Race organisers have claimed that Paula Radcliffe, whose entire Olympic Games was a false start, will chase her own Women's Only world record in Sunday's London Marathon. Race director David Bedford said it was the London Marathon's decision to have an attack on that effort rather than Radcliffe going for the mixed best time of 2:15.25.

The British runner set the record, two hours 18 minutes and 56 seconds, three years ago in her debut race and set the mixed race record with a phenomenal performance against several Kenyans to win her second successive title. If she smashes the 2002 mark, it will earn her a £66,000 bonus in addition to the winner's prize. A third win would also gain her the top prize of £29,000.