Paula Radcliffe admits relief after being found innocent of blood doping
Paula Radcliffe has spoken of her relief after she was found innocent of doping by the IAAF, world athletics' governing body, and UK Anti-Doping.
Radcliffe, the 41-year-old three-times London Marathon winner and the current marathon world record holder, went public to defend her name in September, claiming she had been effectively identified by a committee of MPs as having provided suspicious blood samples.
Now, in its response to the House of Commons culture, media and sport (CMS) select committee, the IAAF said there were innocent reasons for the values in her blood profile. Follow-up tests on urine and blood samples all proved negative.
Radcliffe told BBC Sport: "It is a relief. It should never have come to this. The reason I spoke out was to protect myself and protect my name. It was important that I took a stand knowing that there were other innocent athletes out there."
The IAAF said it was "shocking" that the distance runner should have been publicly accused. The organisation said in its statement: "Paula Radcliffe was hounded remorselessly in the media for several weeks until she felt she had no option but to go public in her own defence.
"The circumstances in which Ms Radcliffe came to be publicly accused are truly shocking. She has been publicly accused of blood doping based on the gross misinterpretation of raw and incomplete data. Ms Radcliffe should never have been forced to come out and defend herself against such insinuations.
"When all of the necessary information is considered, however (as the World Anti-Doping Agency athlete biological passport protocols require), there are clearly plausible explanations for the values in her profile that are entirely innocent. The data therefore provides no basis whatsoever for the insinuations made against her."
Radcliffe, who has always campaigned against drugs in sport, said in September that she felt forced to come out to defend her name. UK Anti-Doping said it had also concluded there was no case for her to answer.
A UKAD spokeswoman said: "After careful review, and in consultation with an independent expert, UKAD has come to the same conclusion as the IAAF review that there is no case to answer. The data does not provide any evidence that any anti-doping rule violation proceedings should be brought."
IAAF president Lord Coe is to give evidence to the CMS committee on Wednesday and the world athletics organisation has come out strongly in defence of its handling of suspicious blood samples taken between 2001 and 2009, when athletes' biological passports were introduced.
An investigation by German broadcaster ARD and the Sunday Times suggested the IAAF had not followed up on the suspicious tests.
The IAAF statement said: "In two of the cases highlighted by the Sunday Times, the samples were collected immediately after competition (when dehydration causes a decrease in plasma concentration, and so an increase in reported haemoglobin concentration, even though there has been no increase in red blood cells).
"Any competent scientist would therefore immediately conclude that they should be disregarded. Furthermore, the IAAF followed up by testing Ms Radcliffe's urine samples for rEPO, and her blood samples for evidence of blood transfusions, and all of those tests came back negative."
The IAAF said it screened nearly 8,000 blood samples for potential markers of blood doping, and followed up with thousands of urine tests to detect the presence of rEPO which has led to 145 athletes being caught with the blood doping agent in their systems.
The statement added: "The World Anti-Doping Agency and Dick Pound, the chair of its independent commission, have also stated clearly and unequivocally that 'no test data derived from the IAAF database prior to the adoption of the ABP in 2009 can be considered to be proof of doping. It would be reckless, if not libellous, to make such an allegation. The reported values may be suspicious and lead to targeted testing of the athletes involved, but nothing more could be done with the information'."
Coe announced on Thursday that he had left his position as an ambassador for sportswear giant Nike after increasing pressure on him that the two roles could lead to conflicts of interest.
Select committee member Damian Collins still intends to ask Coe about the relationship with Nike next week.
Collins said: "He's right to realise that it was unacceptable for the president to hold that commercial position, but there are still questions to answer over why Eugene was award the World Athletics Championships without a vote and his role in that. It is something he appears to have discussed with both Nike executives and the IAAF."