Paula Radcliffe denies that she ever resorted to doping

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LONDON (AP) — Paula Radcliffe, a three-time London Marathon winner and holder of the world record for the distance, denied Tuesday that she ever used performance-enhancing drugs and said she was "devastated" that her name had been linked to allegations of widespread blood doping in track and field.

"I categorically deny that I ever resorted to cheating in any form whatsoever at any time in my career," the British runner said in a strongly-worded four-page statement issued through her management company.

The 41-year-old Radcliffe, who retired from competition this year, released her denial following a British Parliamentary hearing into allegations of doping leveled last month by The Sunday Times newspaper and German broadcaster ARD.

Even though her name was not mentioned in the media reports or the hearing, Radcliffe said she was "effectively" implicated in the Parliamentary inquiry.

Jesse Norman, chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, said during the hearing that "potentially the winners or medalists at the London Marathon" and "'potentially British athletes are under suspicion for very high levels of blood doping."

Radcliffe, who won the London Marathon in 2002, 2003 and 2005, said she was "devastated that my name has even been linked to these wide-ranging accusations."

"These accusations threaten to undermine all I have stood and competed for, as well as my hard earned reputation," she said. "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."

Radcliffe acknowledged that her blood-testing data may have shown "fluctuations" but insisted there were no "abnormalities" and experts had concluded she had done nothing wrong.

"I welcome further investigation if it is necessary," she said. "However, multiple experts (have) already concluded ... that there is simply no case to answer."

The Sunday Times and ARD reported that blood doping was rampant in the sport, citing leaked results from an IAAF database. The IAAF has strongly rejected suggestions that it had failed to follow up on the suspicious tests and that it wasn't doing enough to uncover doping.

The media reports examined the results of 12,000 blood tests involving 5,000 athletes from 2001 to 2012, and concluded that 800 were suspicious. The reports said that 146 medals — including 55 golds — in disciplines ranging from the 800 meters to the marathon at the Olympics and world championships were won by athletes who have recorded suspicious tests.

The Sunday Times also claimed the London Marathon was won seven times over a 12-year period by athletes who recorded suspicious blood tests.

The World Anti-Doping Agency is investigating the allegations and is expected to issue its findings by the end of the year.

"I fully expect that once the independent committee publish their report I will again be found to have no case to answer," Radcliffe said.

Radcliffe set the world record when she ran 2 hours, 15 minutes, 25 seconds in winning the 2003 London Marathon. She also won the New York Marathon three times (2004, '07 and '08) and the Chicago Marathon in 2002. Radcliffe competed in four Olympics but never won a medal.

Radcliffe said innocent athletes "are being implicated and tainted due to the distorted interpretation of a limited historic dataset."

Radcliffe has openly campaigned against doping. At the 2001 world championships in Edmonton, she held up a sign saying "EPO Cheats Out" to protest the reinstatement of Russian athlete Olga Yegorova after she tested positive for the blood-boosting drug.

In Tuesday's statement, Radcliffe said she "wrestled long and hard" about speaking out at the time of the publication of the Sunday Times articles to "fully explain any fluctuations in my blood data" but felt it only would fuel false speculation.

"As a result of today's Parliamentary hearing, I can no longer maintain my silence," she said.

Radcliffe said "only one" of her blood test readings was "marginally above" the accepted threshold, saying it was "invalid" because it was collected right after a half marathon in midday temperatures of about 30 degrees C (86 degrees F).

"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," she said.

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