Paula Radcliffe has said she is “devastated that my name has even been linked” to wide-ranging accusations of cheating in athletics.
Britain’s marathon world record holder, who retired from competitive athletics earlier this year following a foot injury, issued a strongly worded statement after an investigation into blood doping in the sport.
Radcliffe added on Twitter that she had not taken any legal action to block accusations against her.
While we are clearing things up. I never had any injunction Super or otherwise. Not needed when you have the Truth.— Paula Radcliffe (@paulajradcliffe) September 8, 2015
Here are the key points from Radcliffe’s statement, following the British Culture, Media and Sport committee hearing of September 8 regarding the Sunday Times’s allegations concerning blood data.
In her statement, Radcliffe denied resorting to cheating during her career as an athlete.
“I have campaigned long and hard throughout my career for a clean sport,” she said. “I have publicly condemned cheats and those who aid them. These accusations threaten to undermine all I have stood and competed for, as well as my hard earned reputation.
“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.”
Radcliffe said that the investigation may have been a “valid enterprise”, but adds that credibility is lost when “innocent athletes” are accused of violations they did not commit.
“The investigation by (German broadcaster) ARD and the Sunday Times may have been a perfectly valid enterprise if the goal was to expose cheats, their supporters and their infrastructures,” she said.
“If, however, innocent athletes, as in my case, are caught up in the desire to sensationalise and expand the story, then that goal loses a lot of credibility, and indeed, opportunities to catch the true offenders.”
“I am 100% confident that the full explanations and circumstances around any fluctuations in my personal data on a very small number of occasions will stand up to any proper scrutiny and investigation,” the 41-year-old former athlete said.
“Indeed they have already done so. In my case, numerous experts have concluded that there is simply no case to answer. I have at all times been open and transparent, encouraging and supporting the use of blood profiling for many years.
“At no time have any of the various anti-doping authorities found any reason to level any charge of abnormal practice or cheating against me whatsoever.”
Radcliffe said that just because test results are different from the accepted threshold, it doesn’t imply doping or cheating.
“In all of these three cases referred to by the Sunday Times (as well as on many more occasions) I was EPO (erythropoietin) urine tested at the time, and also in follow up,” Radcliffe claimed.
“All of these three cases followed periods of altitude training. Only one of my blood test scores is marginally above the 1 in 100 accepted threshold, and this is invalid given that it was collected immediately following a half marathon race run around midday in temperatures of approximately 30C.
“None of my blood test scores are anywhere near the 1 in 1000 threshold as was claimed by the Sunday Times and that which is seen as suspicion of doping. No abnormalities were ultimately found and any allegation that the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) did not follow up on blood data results in my case is false.”
“The processes to capture those involved are complicated and have taken many years to evolve,” she said. “The process continues with the help of athletes, scientists and, in some cases, the media.
“It was in the spirit of this that I agreed to meet with the Sunday Times reporters before publication of their story. I was incredibly disappointed however that they appeared to purely want to link me to their story.
“Their experts (one of whom spoke at the committee hearing today) gave their assessment of what they say “may” have led to abnormalities in my data.
“However, they did so without any knowledge of context, of personal circumstances, and, of any other facts; all of which would be, and in fact were, available to the multiple experts who examined my data at the time and more recently.”
Radcliffe claims The Sunday Times tried to get consent from the athletes in question to publish their medical data – but the approach was more of a “blackmail” than a polite request.
“The Sunday Times recently attempted to obtain the consent of athletes to publish their stolen medical data, asserting behind the scenes to the effect that if consent isn’t given it will look like an athlete has something to hide and may therefore be guilty of doping,” she said.
“This was effectively tantamount to blackmail, and plainly unacceptable.”
Radcliffe believes that because of these allegations, cheats will be more aware of how the system works.
“A further important point is that cheats wishing to know the normal ranges were being given very valuable information and assistance by the Sunday Times,” said Radcliffe.