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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe has denied "cheating in any form" and said on Tuesday she was devastated that her name had been linked to wide-ranging accusations of blood doping.
Radcliffe, who retired from competitive athletics this year following a persistent foot injury, has not been named in any mainstream British media stories relating to recent blood doping accusations but feels her name was alluded to during a British Parliamentary Committee hearing into the issue on Tuesday.
"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," said Radcliffe, whose marathon world record of 2 hours, 15 minutes, 25 seconds set in 2003 remains almost three minutes faster than any other woman has run.
"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 was not mentioned by name during the hearing at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport but a question was asked about the validity of British women's performances in the London marathon, which she has won three times.
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.
"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," the 41-year-old said.
"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.
"As the journalists themselves state, abnormal readings are not proof of guilt, yet many innocent athletes are being implicated and tainted due to the distorted interpretation of a limited historic dataset.
"I am 100 percent 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."
Editing by Ossian Shine and Ed Osmond