I’d put house on Paula Radcliffe's innocence, says former physio over doping scandal
Paula Radcliffe’s former physiotherapist has said he would “bet his house” that she is clean after the long-distance runner warned that “many innocent athletes” face being implicated in the doping scandal currently engulfing athletics.
Radcliffe chose to speak out after parliamentary committee chairman Jesse Norman appeared to indirectly refer to the three-time London Marathon winner during a Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee hearing.
Members of parliament have launched their own investigation into the allegations made by the Sunday Times and German broadcaster ARD that hundreds of athletes had recorded suspicious blood results which were not pursued by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) — something the governing body denies.
Radcliffe, who was a vocal campaigner against drug cheats during her career, said there was a danger of the data being misinterpreted for a number of reasons and stressed her own had been cleared by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
And Gerard Hartmann, who worked with Radcliffe for the bulk of her career, said: “I would bet my house — in fact everything I have — that Paula Radcliffe never crossed the line during her career. That she never took banned performance-enhancing drugs.
“That she became the greatest female marathon runner in the world through incredible hard work, genetics and a relentless drive to be the best. And if anyone had a bible to hand, I would swear on my life she was clean. That is how confident I am about Paula.
“I know that the last 48 hours has been like putting a dagger through her both ways. But I repeat what I said before. She is clean. She has always been clean. And she is determined to prove it.”
Radcliffe said in her own statement: “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.
“The Anti-Doping system cannot be manipulated in such a way that innocent athletes are no longer protected from the misuse of stolen and leaked incomplete data, the misinterpretation of that data, and sensationalist newspaper exposes.
“I am 100 per cent 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.”
Among the reasons identified by Radcliffe for apparent discrepancies in her own results are medical issues, prolonged altitude training and immediate post-race testing — all of which she says can send the readings marginally outside what is considered the “normal” range.
Radcliffe felt compelled to emphatically deny cheating during her record-breaking career after Norman appeared to raise suspicions while questioning UK Anti-Doping chairman David Kenworthy.
Radcliffe said he “alluded” to past winners or medallists of the London Marathon and “in that period, aside from in the wheelchair race, it only could be me, so essentially he identified me”.
When asked if he had sought to implicate Radcliffe, Norman told Radio Four’s Today programme: “I don’t think that’s actually true.
“Nothing could be further from the intention of the committee than to have named any athlete.
“In fact no names were given, no allegations were made, no specific athletes were described, no test results were mentioned.
“I have no doubt that many others who believe in the importance of eradicating doping from sport are massively supportive of the hearings.
“It’s absolutely right to raise the question of whether British athletes have been involved in some way, and what has happened is... the press pack, and it is a pack, it’s a herd of ungulates, has taken this single snippet and run off to Paula Radcliffe and attempted to bounce her into making some kind of statement. I think that’s very unfortunate.”