Athletics

Paula Radcliffe denies cheating after doping allegations link

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A "devastated" Paula Radcliffe has been forced to emphatically deny cheating during her record-breaking career after becoming caught up in the doping allegations engulfing athletics.

The three-time London Marathon winner issued a powerful statement after saying she had been effectively implicated during a Parliamentary investigation into blood doping in the sport.

Radcliffe, 41, hit out as MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee began an investigation into allegations by the Sunday Times and the German broadcaster ARD that hundreds of athletes had recorded suspicious blood test results which were not followed up by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), claims denied by the world governing body.

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Radcliffe, who insisted fluctuations in her blood test data could be easily explained, said: "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."

Committee chairman Jesse Norman was questioning chairman of UK Anti-Doping David Kenworthy when he seemed to raise suspicions about a prominent British marathon runner.

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He asked Mr Kenworthy during the 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?"

Radcliffe, whose 2003 marathon world record of two hours 15 minutes 25 seconds is almost three minutes faster than any other woman has ever managed, has been a prominent anti-doping campaigner.

She said: "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 condemned the use of " the cloak of Parliamentary privilege" to "effectively implicate" her.

In response Mr Norman said witnesses and the Committee were "careful not to identify any individual athletes".

Radcliffe accepted that some of her blood test data was outside the range considered normal by the IAAF and World Anti-Doping Agency, but insisted there were entirely innocent reasons for the fluctuations which would " stand up to any proper scrutiny and investigation".

She said: "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 1,000 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."

Interviewed on ITV on Tuesday night, Radcliffe said she did not deserve to have her achievements called into question because of her world record time.

"It's not something I would ever reproach myself for," she said. "It's something that I'm very proud of. I was able to achieve that thanks to the hard work that I put in and all the team around me. And I know that can never be put under any doubt and I would never, ever regret running that fast.

"Other than running fast, what reason have they got to put me in this position? They're not asking Usain Bolt to justify why he set a world record. They're not asking anyone else to go out there and justify publishing their blood data to prove anything.

"An innocent athlete should never, ever be put in the position that I've been put in today and I will do everything I can do to defend myself because I have never, ever done anything wrong."

The Sunday Times said its reporting had been "responsible and accurate".

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Topics:
Paula Radcliffe
Athletics
Commonwealth Games

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