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Friday 9 December 2016

Paula Radcliffe: 'pressure on me to release blood test data is bordering on abuse

Paula Radcliffe has called for life bans for any athlete found guilty of doping
Paula Radcliffe has called for life bans for any athlete found guilty of doping

Paula Radcliffe says the pressure being put on her to release her blood test data is bordering on abuse.

The marathon world record holder felt compelled to emphatically deny cheating during her career after becoming caught up in the doping allegations which have engulfed athletics.

The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee were investigating 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 - when chairman Jesse Norman appeared to implicate her.

Radcliffe, who was a vocal campaigner against drug cheats during her career, has admitted to fluctuations in her blood test scores, but said they were down to entirely innocent reasons and she had been cleared by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

There have been calls for the three-time London Marathon winner to release in full her data in the interests of transparency, but Radcliffe has been advised not to do so for fear of it being misinterpreted.

"That is going against the advice and the request of the governing bodies of our sport, of WADA," she said in an interview with BBC Breakfast.

When it was pointed out to her that it was her reputation on the line, she said: "I don't need to do that - I know that I'm clean.

"You're 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.

"I'm always doing that and so I am not being forced and pushed and almost abused into giving a knee-jerk reaction to something that goes against other people who I trust and who are asking me at this moment to put my trust in them and to stand with them to protect a lot of the other innocent athletes, because I do not want to see another innocent athlete be put through what I've been put through the last few months."

Norman has insisted he did not identify Radcliffe by using the words "potentially the winners or medallists at the London Marathon, potentially British athletes, are under suspicion for very high levels" and has laid the blame squarely at the door of the media.

Radcliffe said she had no interest in speaking to the committee.

"My bigger concern is not with that committee," she said. "I don't really care what a committee of MPs thinks about a situation that they don't fully understand.

"And if they were going to investigate I do believe that they should have had representatives from the IAAF there, if they were going to attack and besmirch the good work that the IAAF has carried out, and has done in being at the forefront of the anti-doping movement across sports in trying to stamp out doping within athletics.

"They should have had someone there and if they were going to launch accusations against athletes they should have invited them there."

Committee member Damian Collins, Tory MP for Folkestone and Hythe, told Press Association Sport on Wednesday that new IAAF president Lord Coe would be called to face questions on his claim that the doping allegations were a ''declaration of war'' on athletics.

Radcliffe has pointed out her blood test results, which have been called into question, could have been skewed by factors such as altitude training, taking antibiotics and post-race dehydration.

She claimed she should have been given the chance to talk with the experts used by the Sunday Times to analyse the leaked data.

She said: "Going back way way before that (the committee hearing), before the Sunday Times printed any stories, what they should have done was given these experts that they've put in a difficult position as well by asking them to comment on data without the context the opportunity to sit down with athletes, with the context, and discuss that and then see if they are still willing to put their career and their reputation on the line, like they have done with other people, by judging on that data.

"So I would like to sit down and say, 'Do you have the right to do that?' And to be able to discuss that and that should have all been done and they should have given the opportunity to properly understand that, not comment on stolen data without the background that is needed to be able to properly interpret that."

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