Paula Radcliffe: Calls to release blood data are ‘almost abuse’

Britain’s marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe has launched a stinging attack on those who have called for her to release her blood data.

Radcliffe spoke to the BBC on Thursday morning about the allegations against her, saying that she had no need to release any personal data.

“I don’t need to. I’m clean,” she said in an interview on BBC Breakfast.

“I’m not being forced and almost abused into giving a knee-jerk reaction to something that goes against other people, who I trust.”

The 41-year-old explained that the sport’s governing bodies have told athletes not to release data, and that by retaining her privacy she would “protect a lot of other innocent athletes”.

“I do not want to see another innocent athlete put through what I’ve been through in the last few months,” she added, going on to criticise former team-mates Mo Farah and Jo Pavey for having released their information.

British athlete Paula Radcliffe takes her seat on centre court to watch Britain's Andy Murray
British athlete Paula Radcliffe takes her seat on centre court to watch Britain’s Andy Murray – AFP

“That is going against the advice and the request of the governing bodies of our sport, of WADA.

“You’re [the BBC interviewer] the one that has doubts and that, I’m afraid, when it all boils down to it, is not my problem, because I know that I have always competed as a clean athlete, I have always stood up for what I believe in.

“I couldn’t look my children in the eye and teach them the same moral beliefs that I was brought up with, to stand up for what you believe in, to treat other people with respect, to treat other people fairly – no matter whether other people will treat you with respect, you still do that and you still stand up for what you believe in.”

ABNORMAL TESTS EXPLAINED

Radcliffe also offered her view on the three reportedly abnormal tests put forward as evidence by the Sunday Times.

“Two of those are invalid because they were taken immediately post-race and they would not be looked at for that reason,” she said.

Paula Radcliffe of the UK reacts after running the half marathon race during the Vienna City Marathon in Vienna April 15, 2012.
Paula Radcliffe of the UK reacts after running the half marathon race during the Vienna City Marathon in Vienna April 15, 2012. – Reuters

“But if they are looked at by qualified experts with the full context, they would say that is totally explainable, that’s not even suspicious.”

PARLIAMENTARY HEARING

Earlier in the week, Radcliffe said she was “devastated” that she had been linked to doping allegations following a Parliamentary hearing on Tuesday, which explored claims from the Sunday Times concerning blood data.

“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,” she said in a statement.

“I have campaigned long and hard throughout my career for a clean sport. I have publicly condemned cheats and those who aid them.

“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.”

The hearing insinuated that Radcliffe was one of seven British athletes that had “suspicious blood values” between 2001 and 2012. Radcliffe wasn’t mentioned by name, but a question was asked about the validity of British women’s performances in the London marathon, which she has won three times.

Her statement added: “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.”

Radcliffe hung up her running shoes after the London Marathon in April.

Paula Radcliffe (AFP)
Paula Radcliffe (AFP) – Eurosport

The hearing took place following recent reports by Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper and German TV station ARD of alleged blood-doping in athletics.

The sport’s governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), said the medical records obtained by the newspaper did not prove doping but many high-profile athletes chose to make their records and blood values public in a bid to show they had nothing to hide.

Radcliffe, who had previously said she felt such records should be made public, chose not to on this occasion but in her 1,700-word statement went into great detail to explain what she said were the contributory factors to her “abnormal” readings.

With additional copy from Reuters

RADCLIFFE’S STATEMENT

“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. I have publicly condemned cheats and those who aid them. 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.

“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.

“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 investigation by ARD and the Sunday Times may have been a perfectly valid enterprise if the goal was to expose cheats, their supporters, and, their infrastructures. If, however, innocent athletes, as in my case, are caught up in the desire to sensationalise and expand the story, then that goal loses a lot of credibility, and indeed, opportunities to catch the true offenders.

“I am 100% 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. Indeed they have already done so. In my case, numerous experts have concluded that there is simply no case to answer.

“I have at all times been open and transparent, encouraging and supporting the use of blood profiling for many years. My results were reviewed contemporaneously, and, more recently at my request following the Sunday Times’ articles, which insofar as they erroneously alluded to me were irresponsibly published. Nothing improper has ever been found, since it never occurred.

“Not one of the values questioned by the Sunday Times occurred around any of my best performances or races, including all my appearances at the London Marathon. This makes it all the more disappointing that my identity was effectively leaked at the Parliamentary Hearing, under the guise of there being a British athlete and London Marathon winner who is erroneously under suspicion.”