Marathon world record-holder issues statement following Parliamentary inquiry into doping in athletics

Paula Radcliffe has released a lengthy statement in which she “categorically” denies having ever resorted to cheating at any time in her career.

The statement comes after Tuesday’s Parliamentary inquiry into doping in athletics, with Radcliffe saying how she is “devastated” that her name has been linked to “wide-ranging accusations”.

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee is due to hold two evidence sessions on blood doping, with the Committee exploring allegations made in a series of articles published by the Sunday Times. The first of the articles included details of blood-test data which the newspaper said was leaked by a whistleblower.

The Sunday Times August 2 2015

In response to that article, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said it “strongly” rejected the allegations which the sport’s world governing body labelled as “sensationalist and confusing”.

Radcliffe had not previously spoken out in response to any rumours, but on Tuesday the women’s marathon world record-holder said in her statement: “As a result of today’s Parliamentary Hearing I can no longer maintain my silence.”

Radcliffe’s statement read in part: “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.

“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.”

The 41-year-old said that at the time of the Sunday Times coverage she had “wrestled long and hard” with a “desire to speak out with the true facts” and to explain any fluctuations in her blood data. In her statement, Radcliffe explained: “However by ‘coming out’ in that fashion I was made aware that I would be facilitating mass coverage of my name in connection with false allegations of possible doping, which would enable further irreparable damage to be done to my reputation.”

The statement continued to read in part: “The investigation by ARD and the Sunday Times may have been a perfectly valid enterprise if the goal was to expose cheats, their supporters, and, their infrastructures. If, however, innocent athletes, as in my case, are caught up in the desire to sensationalise and expand the story, then that goal loses a lot of credibility, and indeed, opportunities to catch the true offenders. As the journalists themselves state, 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 exposés.

“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. I have at all times been open and transparent, encouraging and supporting the use of blood profiling for many years. At no time have any of the various antidoping authorities found any reason to level any charge of abnormal practice or cheating against me whatsoever. My results were reviewed contemporaneously, and, more recently at my request following the Sunday Times’ articles, which insofar as they erroneously alluded to me were irresponsibly published. Nothing improper has ever been found, since it never occurred. WADA themselves have again investigated following the recent articles. I understand the team from WADA found nothing and I fully expect that once the Independent Committee publish their report I will again be found to have no case to answer.”

Radcliffe said that only one of her blood test scores was marginally above the 1 in 100 accepted threshold, adding how that score is “invalid given that it was collected immediately following a half marathon race run around midday in temperatures of approximately 30C”.

Radcliffe continued: “None of my blood test scores are anywhere near the 1 in 1000 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.

“Further, not one of the values questioned by the Sunday Times occurred around any of my best performances or races, including all my appearances at the London Marathon. This makes it all the more disappointing that my 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 ended her statement by saying: “I would like to reiterate my abhorrence at having fingers falsely pointed at me and being accused of having suspicious blood results and therefore of possibly cheating in the sport I love.

“I have never resorted to cheating in any form whatsoever at any time in my career. I welcome further investigation if it is necessary, however, multiple experts having already concluded contemporaneously and following the Sunday Times’ articles that there is simply no case to answer.

“I will continue to fully support and help the quest to find and remove those who cast a huge shadow over athletics which sadly threatens to envelop the innocent along with the guilty.”

In response to Radcliffe’s statement, Committee chair Jesse Norman MP said: “Ms Radcliffe’s comments appear to focus far more on the Sunday Times‘ reports than on today’s hearing.  But 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. Anyone with concerns about this is encouraged to view the hearing online, or to consult the transcript, which will be published shortly.”

Tuesday’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee session can be viewed here, while Radcliffe’s full statement, which is more than 1700 words long, can be read here.