Athletics: Radcliffe not running away from drug claims

British athlete Paula Radcliffe.
British athlete Paula Radcliffe.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Saying she is not a cheat, former marathoner comes out to slam MP chairing hearing for linking her to allegations

LONDON • A "devastated" Paula Radcliffe has insisted she has never cheated "in any form whatsoever at any time in my career", following a parliamentary select committee hearing into doping allegations she claimed forced her to speak out.

The marathon world record-holder, one of Britain's best-loved athletes who retired from competition this year because of injury, had not been named in connection with the recent spate of allegations regarding blood doping that have engulfed the sport.

However, after Jesse Norman, the British MP who chairs the culture, media and sport select committee, asked questions that appeared to suggest a British winner of the London Marathon was "potentially" implicated, Radcliffe said she had no choice but to speak out in order to clear her name.

"These accusations threaten to undermine all I have stood and competed for, as well as my hard-earned reputation," she said.

"By linking me to allegations of cheating, damage done to my name and reputation can never be fully repaired, no matter how untrue I know them to be."

IRREVERSIBLE DAMAGE

By linking me to allegations of cheating, damage done to my name and reputation can never be fully repaired, no matter how untrue I know them to be.

PAULA RADCLIFFE

Her 2003 marathon world record of 2hr 15min 25sec in London remains almost three minutes faster than any other woman in history.

She accused Mr Norman of using the "cloak of parliamentary privilege" in effect to identify her without the risk of being sued for defamation.

The culture, media and sport select committee had convened to look into recent allegations by the German broadcaster ARD and the Sunday Times that a third of endurance medallists over a 10-year period had suspicious blood values.

Following the hearing, Radcliffe immediately came out with a 1,700-word statement.

"I categorically deny I have resorted to cheating in any form whatsoever at any time in my career, and am devastated my name has even been linked to these wide-ranging accusations," she said.

Her name had been in circulation since December , when a leaked list of athletes with suspicious blood values began to circulate, having featured in an ARD documentary into systemic doping in Russia.

Interest was raised when a larger leak of 12,000 blood tests from 5,000 athletes was used by the Sunday Times and ARD as the basis for claims last month.

The Sunday Times referred to a prominent British endurance athlete as being among those with suspicious blood values. It said it was not Mo Farah, whose coach Alberto Salazar has been the target of separate doping claims which he denies.

"At the time of the recent Sunday Times coverage, I wrestled long and hard with a desire to speak out with the true facts concerning my position, and to fully explain any fluctuations in my blood data," Radcliffe said.

"However, by 'coming out' in that fashion, I was made aware that I would be facilitating mass coverage of my name in connection with false allegations of possible doping, which would enable further irreparable damage to be done to my reputation," she added.

A vocal anti-doping campaigner, she said the three cases referred to by the Sunday Times followed periods of altitude training.

There were also several other mitigating factors that explained the abnormal scores.

She added that she had requested her own independent analysis of her blood data that showed she had no case to answer.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 10, 2015, with the headline 'RADCLIFFE NOT RUNNING AWAY FROM DRUG CLAIMS'. Print Edition | Subscribe