Paula Radcliffe has said she is “devastated that my name has even been linked” to wide-ranging accusations of cheating in athletics.
The marathon world record holder issued a strongly-worded statement after British MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee began an investigation into blood doping in the sport.
Committee chairman Jesse Norman was questioning David Kenworthy, chairman of UK Anti-Doping, when he seemed to raise suspicions about a prominent British marathon runner.
He asked Mr Kenworthy during the British House of Commons hearing: “When you hear that the London Marathon, potentially the winners or medallists at the London Marathon, potentially British athletes are under suspicion for very high levels of blood doping....When you think of the effect that has on young people and the community nature of that event, what are your emotions about that, how do you feel about that?”
Mr Kenworthy said: “I think it is a tragedy if you and I are looking at a sporting event with a degree of cynicism about what we are seeing. I think it is our role to overcome that cynicism.”
Radcliffe, 41, immediately hit back by issuing a statement saying: “I categorically deny that I have resorted to cheating in any form whatsoever at any time in my career, and am devastated that my name has even been linked to these wide-ranging accusations.”
Extracts from Paula Radcliffe’s statement following the Culture Media and Sport Committee Hearing of September 8 regarding the Sunday Times’ allegations concerning blood data:
:: I categorically deny that I have resorted to cheating in any form whatsoever at any time in my career, and am devastated that my name has even been linked to these wide-ranging accusations. I have campaigned long and hard throughout my career for a clean sport. 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.
:: The investigation by ARD and the Sunday Times may have been a perfectly valid enterprise if the goal was to expose cheats, their supporters, and, their infrastructures. 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 percent 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. 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.
:: In all of these three cases referred to by the Sunday Times (as well as on many more occasions) I was EPO urine tested at the time, and also in follow up. 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 did not follow up on blood data results in my case is false.
:: There is undoubtedly a major issue with doping in sport, and blood doping in its various guises has become a tough opponent for the authorities to combat effectively. The processes to capture those involved are complicated and have taken many years to evolve. 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. The consideration and indeed necessity of that type of extrinsic information is paramount for all proper evaluation and interpretation of test data. Sadly, in my case the Sunday Times’ experts failed appallingly.
:: 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. This was effectively tantamount to blackmail, and plainly unacceptable.
:: 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.