Paula Radcliffe denies cheating

Marathon world record holder 'devastated' over doping claims


A "devastated" Paula Radcliffe has denied "cheating in any form" after saying she had been effectively implicated during a Parliamentary investigation into doping in athletics.

The marathon world record holder and three-time London Marathon winner issued a strongly-worded statement, which runs to over 1,700 words, after MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee began an investigation into blood doping in athletics.

Radcliffe, 41, who was not been named by the committee or in media reports, said she felt she had to speak out after her "identity was effectively leaked at the parliamentary hearing, under the guise of there being a British athlete and London Marathon winner who is erroneously under suspicion".

Radcliffe, who retired from competitive athletics this year following a persistent foot injury, 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."

Suspicions about marathon runner

Committee chairman Jesse Norman was questioning David Kenworthy, chairman of UKAD, the UK's national anti-doping agency, when he seemed to raise suspicions about a prominent British marathon runner.

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?"

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 said she "wrestled long and hard with a desire to speak out" following last month's publication of the joint investigation by the Sunday Times and the German broadcaster ARD of 12,000 blood tests from 5,000 athletes between 2001 and 2012. It claimed that more than 800 individuals - and a third of medallists in endurance events at Olympics and World Championships in that period had suspicious blood test results which were not followed up by the IAAF.

The hearing was set up after respected scientist Dr Michael Ashenden helped produce a controversial analysis which suggested the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) had turned a blind eye to hundreds of suspicious blood tests.

'I have publicly condemned cheats'

Radcliffe, whose marathon world record of 2hr 15min 25sec set in 2003 is almost three minutes faster than any other woman has ever managed, 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 and reputation can never be fully repaired, no matter how untrue I know them to be.

"Whilst I have the greatest of respect for anyone responsibly trying to uncover cheating in sport, and of course for Parliament itself, it is profoundly disappointing that the cloak of Parliamentary privilege 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."

'Urgent' investigation

The report prompted WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency) to announce it was launching an "urgent" investigation.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) called the allegations "sensationalist and confusing" and denied it had failed in its duty to carry out effective blood testing.

In response to Ms Radcliffe's comments, Mr Norman later said: "For the avoidance of doubt the witnesses in evidence and the committee itself at the hearing were all careful not to identify any individual athletes, and did not discuss specific allegations or test results.

"The Sunday Times database has not been passed to the committee, and committee members have not had the ability to consult it. No names of any athletes were mentioned in the hearing except those already in the public domain.

"It is untrue to suggest that the cloak of Parliamentary privilege has been used to implicate any specific individual in any form of doping."

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