BRITISH LONG-DISTANCE runner Paula Radcliffe says she was “devastated” to have been linked to blood doping allegations during an investigation by British lawmakers.
Radcliffe, a three-time winner of the London Marathon, reacted after the chair of the British parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee suggested British athletes may have cheated in the race.
British lawmaker Jesse Norman said “the winners or medallists at the London Marathon, potentially British athletes are under suspicion for very high levels of blood doping”.
In a statement, Radcliffe 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.”
The parliamentary committee is probing claims made last month by British newspaper the Sunday Times and German broadcaster ARD that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ignored evidence of doping.
While questioning David Kenworthy, chairman of United Kingdom Anti-doping (UKAD), Norman said: “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?”
Kenworthy replied: “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, is the only British athlete, male or female, to have won the London Marathon in the last 19 years.
Source: PA Wire
She triumphed in 2002, 2003 and 2005, with the 2003 success coming in a time of two hours, 15 minutes and 25 seconds that remains a world record.
In her response, Radcliffe added: “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.”
She said it was “profoundly disappointing” that parliamentary privilege — which enables British politicians to speak without fear of slander litigation — “has been used to effectively implicate me, tarnishing my reputation, with full knowledge that I have no recourse against anyone for repeating what has been said at the committee hearing”.
The hearing was set up after the Sunday Times/ARD report, produced in conjunction with two leading anti-doping experts, claimed over 800 athletes had produced suspicious blood test results between 2001 and 2012.
The World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) subsequently launched an investigation.
Radcliffe added: “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.”