Innocent athletes being caught up in doping scandal, says Paula Radcliffe

Paula Radcliffe has warned that “many innocent athletes” face being implicated in the doping scandal currently engulfing athletics following allegations of large-scale blood test irregularities.

Radcliffe chose to speak out after parliamentary committee chairman Jesse Norman appeared to indirectly refer to the three-time London Marathon winner during a Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee hearing.

Members of parliament have launched their own investigation into the allegations made by the Sunday Times and German broadcaster ARD that hundreds of athletes had recorded suspicious results which were not pursued by the International Association of Athletics Federarions (IAAF) – something the governing body denies.

Radcliffe, who was a vocal campaigner against drug cheats during her career, said there was a danger of the data being misinterpreted for a number of reasons - and stressed her own had been cleared by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Radcliffe said in a statement: “Abnormal readings are not proof of guilt, yet many innocent athletes are being implicated and tainted due to the distorted interpretation of a limited historic dataset.

“The Anti-Doping system cannot be manipulated in such a way that innocent athletes are no longer protected from the misuse of stolen and leaked incomplete data, the misinterpretation of that data, and sensationalist newspaper exposes.

“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.

“Indeed they have already done so. In my case, numerous experts have concluded that there is simply no case to answer.” Among the reasons identified by Radcliffe for apparent discrepancies in her own results are medical issues, prolonged altitude training and immediate post-race testing – all of which she says can send the readings marginally outside what is considered the “normal” range.

Radcliffe felt compelled to emphatically deny cheating during her record-breaking career after Norman appeared to raise suspicions while questioning UK Anti-Doping chairman David Kenworthy. Radcliffe said he “alluded” to past winners or medallists of the London Marathon and “in that period, aside from in the wheelchair race, it only could be me, so essentially he identified me”.

Meanwhile Mo Farah would like to see longer bans for athletes who intentionally take illegal drugs.

The 32-year-old racked up his seventh straight global title last month when he added the 5,000 metres crown to his 10,000m triumph at the World Championships in Beijing.

Farah wants his anti-doping blood test data to be made public, saying he will do what it takes to prove he is a clean athlete – and he has again spoken out about cheats in the sport.

Speaking on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, which airs on Friday evening, he was asked by the host what he thinks of athletes who take illegal drugs.

He said: “It depends what they get done for. If (it’s) something that you do, you know what you’re doing, then it should be – I think – a longer ban.”

“Anywhere I am in the world I get a one-hour slot and testers can come in that hour and if I’m not there it’s a missed test – and I believe all countries should be able to do what we’re doing. If you’re going to compete with me you have to do the same thing.”

The two-time Olympic champion came under heavy scrutiny after it was alleged coach Alberto Salazar and his US team, the Nike Oregon Project, had violated anti-doping rules and doped US record holder Galen Rupp.

UK Athletics found no evidence of wrongdoing by Farah in the initial findings.


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