Tuesday 10 December 2019

Paula Radcliffe fears reputation has been permanently damaged by 'set-up' parliamentary hearing

Paula Radcliffe Photo: Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images
Paula Radcliffe Photo: Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images

Phil Blanche

Paula Radcliffe has accused the MPs whose debate embroiled her in doping allegations of causing lasting damage to her reputation.

Women's marathon world record holder Radcliffe suggested a parliamentary hearing into doping last year was "a set-up". The 42-year-old was among those whose blood data was leaked to a German broadcaster in 2014 and three of her scores were flagged as "suspicious".

Radcliffe believed she was effectively named during a culture, media and sport select committee hearing in September, when London Marathon winners were discussed, and decided to go public by issuing a statement in which she categorically denied doping.

She has been cleared of being a drugs offender by athletics' world governing body the IAAF and UK Anti-Doping. During the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire show, Radcliffe accepted a partial apology from Jesse Norman, chairman of the culture, media and sport select committee.

"Personally I do feel I would appreciate an apology," Radcliffe said. "He may not have intentionally meant to name me but if you ask him to name a winner or medallist of the London Marathon I don't think he could name any of the others in that period. It shouldn't have come down to that.

"It just smacks to me of a little bit of a set-up and an exercise for the MPs instead of an exercise to get to the truth and to determine is the UK huge, does it have a problem with blood doping in athletics."

Norman was questioning UK Anti-Doping chairman David Kenworthy during the September hearing, regarding doping allegations in distance running from 2001 to 2012, and seemed to raise suspicions about a prominent British marathon runner.

Asked whether people would consider her a cheat in the wake of doping allegations in athletics, three-time London Marathon winner Radcliffe said: "I think that's the damage that has been done.

"No matter what I do now there will always be some people out there who unfortunately will believe that. So I do feel there has been damage done to my reputation. But I am able to stand stronger through that because I know there is no truth to it."

Norman admitted his "ignorance" at not being able to name any other medal winners of the London Marathon from the period in question, but stressed there was no intention to identify Radcliffe.

"If you look at the questions they are not just about the London Marathon, they are about people who are competing in other sports as well in British athletics," Norman said.

"Actually that has just been built up and it's a terrible shame that it has been but it has nothing to do with what I said or what the committee was working on.

"I am perfectly happy to say I'm sorry to hear about what has happened and I am sorry it has been taken in this way but it really has had nothing to do with what I was saying or what my committee was doing."

Radcliffe's comments came as UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner gave evidence to the culture, media and sport select committee in the wake of Russia's suspension from international athletics.

Warner said the "state-organised" doping scandal has been so serious that Russia should not be allowed back into the sport ahead of this summer's Olympics in Rio.

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