In the early 2000s, runner Paula Radcliffe dominated the London Marathon, earning historic first-place finishes in 2002, 2003, and 2005. But when the London Marathon was mentioned in a parliamentary inquiry into doping in track and field this month, Radcliffe felt her reputation was being threatened. On Tuesday, she issued a 1,700-word response on her website, adamantly denying any implications that she may have cheated.
As Outside reported last month, a joint report by the Sunday Times and the German TV station ARD about international track and field showed evidence of blood manipulation in a substantial portion of athletes between 2001 and 2012. In some countries, the portion was as high as 30 percent. While the investigation looked into data for 5,000 track-and-fielders, evidence of blood transfusions or EPO was particularly prominent among top finishers, with one-third of medalists showing suspicious blood values at some point in their years of competition.
“At the time of the recent Sunday Times coverage, I wrestled long and hard with a desire to speak out with the true facts concerning my position, and, to fully explain any fluctuations in my blood data,” Radcliffe said in her statement. “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. As a result of today’s Parliamentary Hearing I can no longer maintain my silence.”
Radcliffe’s 1,700-word statement went on at length about the elements that resulted in her “abnormal” blood readings over the years, which the 41-year-old marathoner said were by no means incriminating.
“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,” Radcliffe said. “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.”