Marathon champ Radcliffe issues statement on drugs: "I categorically deny that I have resorted to cheating"

Marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe has issued a lengthy statement on her website to distance herself from suggestions that UK athletes had been involved in doping, saying she had been torn as to whether or not to speak out.

Radcliffe crosses the line to win the 2008 New York Marathon (Credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire/Press Association Images)
Radcliffe crosses the line to win the 2008 New York Marathon (Credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire/Press Association Images)

The statement, issued by Sian Masterton, an agent at sports marketing firm Octagon Worldwide, was posted this afternoon on the retired athlete's website.

It follows a session of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in Westminster this morning on the topic of blood doping in athletics, hearing evidence from the World Anti-Doping Agency among others.

The BBC reported that committee member Jesse Norman MP suggested previous London Marathon winners and medallists – and "potentially British athletes" – were under suspicion of using performance-enhancing substances, although Radcliffe herself was not named.

The 41-year-old athlete said questions raised during the select committee "effectively implicated" her in The Sunday Times' allegations of blood doping in athletics.

Radcliffe's statement says: "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."

It goes on to say: "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 statement said Radcliffe had considered issuing such a statement previously when a Sunday Times feature last month made several accusations of doping within world athletics, saying: "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.

"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."

The final paragraph of the 1,700 statement begins: "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."

In having to facing doping rumours, Radcliffe is following in the footsteps of fellow British runner Mo Farah, who earlier this year took on the agency Freuds after reports that he missed two drug tests before the 2012 London Olympics, and cyclist Chris Froome who faced allegations, punches and having urine thrown at him as a PR war bubbled away during the summer's Tour de France.

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