Marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain released a 1,700-word statement denying any cheating or wrong-doing in her career as a professional runner. The statement was released following Tuesday's parliamentary inquiry into doping track and field and endurance running after a report by The Sunday Times found several cases of high-profile doping and suspicious blood tests from 2001 to 2012.
“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.”
Radcliffe was never named in any article but was mentioned in Tuesday's hearing. Radcliffe released the statement to clarify any fluctuations in her blood data, which a biological passport can sometimes detect as a sign of doping. Radcliffe has never tested positive for any performance enhancing drugs.
The four-time Olympian offered an explanation for one blood test score that was above the 1 in 100 accepted threshold. Radcliffe argues that The Sunday Times did not take into account extrinsic information such as altitude training (which increases red blood cell count), dehydration or illness that could effect testing data. An anonymous lab scientist from the World Anti-Doping Agency has backed Radcliffe's claims, according to her statement.
“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 30 (degrees Celsius),” Radcliffe explained. “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.”
None of the blood values that were deemed as suspicious by The Sunday Times came from Radcliffe's best performances at the London Marathon. She won the London Marathon three times in her career and set the world record of two hours, 15 minutes and 25 seconds at the 2003 edition of the race.
Radcliffe has also run the second- and third-fastest women's marathons of all time with her 2:17:18 from the 2002 Chicago Marathon and 2:17:42 from the 2005 London Marathon. Mary Keitany of Kenya is the second-fastest woman with her 2:18:37 performance at the 2012 London Marathon, but is still three minutes behind Radcliffe's world record.
Radcliffe also accuses The Sunday Times of blackmailing athletes into giving their consent to release confidential medical data.
“I was extremely disturbed to see how young athletes preparing for the World Championships were upset and confused by the intrusion and demands of these journalists,” Radcliffe said. “A further important point is that cheats wishing to know the normal ranges were being given very valuable information and assistance by the Sunday Times. For these reasons and primarily the need for qualified interpretation with all relevant context, the sport’s governing bodies requested that athletes should not release their blood data. I was happy to stand with them.”
Radcliffe retired from competitive running after a 2:36.55 swan-song run at the 2015 London Marathon. Radcliffe welcomes any further investigation.
“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,” Radcliffe concludes.
Read Radcliffe's full statement here.
- Christopher Chavez