Paula Radcliffe ‘Categorically Denies’ Cheating After Doping Inquiry
The marathon world record holder goes on the defensive in strongly worded 1,700-word statement.
In a 1,700-world statement released on her website Tuesday, marathon world-record holder Paula Radcliffe, who officially retired following April’s London Marathon, ‘categorically denied’ doping following implications from a Sunday Times’ article in early August that revealed an “extraordinary extent of cheating” in track & field. The Sunday Times, along with German broadcaster ARD/WDR, obtained the results of 12,000 blood tests from 5,000 athletes between 2001 and 2012 that showed an alarming number of “suspicious” blood values. Radcliffe was not named in the report although the database said “A top UK athlete is among seven Britons with suspicious blood scores.”
In addition, a parliamentary select committee member suggested that London Marathon winners and medallists and “potentially British athletes” were under suspicion, according to the BBC.
Radcliffe ran her still-standing world record of 2:15:25 at the 2003 London Marathon. She owns the three fastest times in history and is the only woman ever to break 2:18 in the marathon. Kenyan Mary Keitany’s 2:18:37, run at the 2012 London Marathon, is the fourth fastest time ever run behind Radliffe’s best three marks—2:15:25, 2:17:18 (Chicago, 2002) and 2:17:42 (London, 2005).
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“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,” Radcliffe said in her statement. “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.”
The 41-year-old Radcliffe, who has remained one of track & field’s strongest anti-doping voices despite numerous suspicions and accusations over the years, has never failed a blood test. Last month, Radcliffe told BBC sports editor Dan Roan that athletes shouldn’t reveal their blood data because it can be easily misunderstood and misinterpreted by non-experts. In her statement on Tuesday, she went to great lengths to explain three ‘abnormal’ readings referred to by the Sunday Times, and also pointed out that “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.”
“In all of these three cases referred to by the Sunday Times (as well as on many more occasions) I was EPO urine tested at the time, and also in follow up,” Radcliffe wrote. “All of these three cases followed periods of altitude training. 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 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.”