Double Great North Run winner Paula Radcliffe hits out over doping allegation

Paula Radcliffe
Paula Radcliffe

Paula Radcliffe says she had no choice but to speak out after parliamentary committee chairman Jesse Norman appeared to implicate her in the doping allegations engulfing athletics.

The double Great North Run winner and three-time London Marathon champion felt compelled to emphatically deny cheating during her record-breaking career following comments made during a Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee hearing.

Members of parliament have launched an investigation into allegations made by the Sunday Times and the German broadcaster ARD that hundreds of athletes had recorded suspicious blood test results which were not followed up by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), claims denied by the world governing body.

Norman appeared to raise suspicions about Radcliffe while questioning UK Anti-Doping chairman David Kenworthy.

Radcliffe, who won the Great North Run in 2000 and 2003, said he “alluded” to past winners or medallists of the London Marathon and “in that period, aside from in the wheelchair race, it only could be me, so essentially he identified me”.

She told Sky News: “Then people had free rein because of the parliamentary privilege to go ahead and name me in the press.

“At that point I am not prepared to be blackmailed by the paper in question any more on this matter and I am going to go out and defend myself.

“I wanted to avoid it because I did not want my name to be on the front page of all the papers.

“I definitely do not want my children to print their mum’s name into Google and find that the first thing that comes up next to it is ‘drugs cheat’ or ‘doper’.

“It is not something I ever wanted to happen.

“I will not stand by and not defend myself when I am put in this situation.”

Radcliffe added: “If you are going to have a parliamentary hearing and raise certain questions, I really think it would have been normal for there to have been a representative of the IAAF – considering how they were attacked in the hearing – and myself there, to be able to defend yourself if you are going to be raising these questions.”

Earlier on Wednesday Norman suggested the press had misinterpreted his comments.

When asked if he had sought to implicate Radcliffe, he told Radio Four’s Today programme, he said: “I don’t think that’s actually true.

“Nothing could be further from the intention of the committee than to have named any athlete.

“In fact no names were given, no allegations were made, no specific athletes were described, no test results were mentioned.

“I have no doubt that many others who believe in the importance of eradicating doping from sport are massively supportive of the hearings.

“It’s absolutely right to raise the question of whether British athletes have been involved in some way, and what has happened is... the press pack, and it is a pack, it’s a herd of ungulates, has taken this single snippet and run off to Paula Radcliffe and attempted to bounce her into making some kind of statement.

“I think that’s very unfortunate.”

Norman had seemed to refer to a prominent British marathon runner on Tuesday.

He asked Kenworthy during the House of Commons hearing: “When you hear that the London Marathon, potentially the winners or medallists at the London Marathon, potentially British athletes are under suspicion for very high levels of blood doping.

“When you think of the effect that has on young people and the community nature of that event, what are your emotions about that, how do you feel about that?”

Radcliffe reacted by saying: “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.

“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 also claims her blood results were reviewed following the Sunday Times articles by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which found no evidence of any impropriety.