Paula Radcliffe has passionately denied ever cheating during her career and said she was “devastated” to have been linked to widespread doping allegations which have engulfed athletics.
The marathon world record holder issued a strongly-worded statement after MPs on Britain’s 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 Kenworthy during the House of Commons hearing: “When you hear 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?”
Radcliffe, 41, hit back by issuing a statement of more than 1,700 words saying: “I categorically deny I 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.”
The hearing came in the wake of allegations world governing body the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) had turned a blind eye to suspicious blood tests from hundreds of athletes. The claims by German broadcaster ARD and The Sunday Times appeared last month and were furiously denied by the IAAF.
Radcliffe said: “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 can never be fully repaired, no matter how untrue I know them to be.”
Radcliffe is a three-time winner of the London and New York City marathons and won the world title over 26.2 miles in 2005. The world record of two hours 15 minutes 25 seconds she set in London 12 years ago still stands. Radcliffes said she “wrestled long and hard with a desire to speak out with the true facts” concerning her results when the Sunday Times story broke, but felt speaking about it then would have only fuelled false speculation.
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