Belfast Telegraph

Lord Coe leaps to defence of marathon star Paula Radcliffe

By Robert Jones

International Association of Athletics Federations President Lord Coe has defended Paula Radcliffe on the day the marathon record holder’s blood test results were revealed.

Radcliffe says the results prove she is innocent of doping.

The results showed three “off-scores” were 114.86, 109.86 and 109.3. Scores above 103 by a female athlete can be regarded as “suspicious” but training at altitude and tests taken immediately after a race can lead to higher results.

Radcliffe said the results had been looked at by an independent expert and she had reports clearing her.

She said: “I had to wait to get those in place but I’m very glad I have them. They can tell me you don’t have three values that crossed any threshold, not when you apply the context of whether the test followed a period of altitude training or was carried out at altitude.

“Not when you apply whether the two-hour rule — that it cannot be used within two hours of hard competition or hard training — is not valid. That rules out two of the tests they are referring to, and the other is not above the threshold.”

But Coe, who has just taken up office with the IAAF, says she should not have been forced into defending herself.

He said: “I think everybody knows Paula is a clean athlete, she had to defend herself, which I thought she did very well, but I don’t think she should have been in the position.

“I don’t believe any athlete, any person, should be forced to put private information in the public domain like that.”

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Earlier, Radcliffe had claimed the pressure being put on her to release her blood test data was “bordering on abuse”.

Radcliffe, 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).

Her husband and trainer, Gary Lough, spoke of the stress his wife has been put under ever since she became implicated in athletics’ doping scandal after The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee convened to discuss it on Tuesday.

“What was stressful was the whispers, the finger-pointing and the innuendo she has had to deal with while knowing she’s done nothing wrong,” Lough said of Radcliffe. “She wonders why this is happening.

“I can understand the viewpoint of ‘if she’s done nothing wrong, why not come out and say here’s my stuff?’ but our reasoning has been that this is the last thing you want to be associated with.

“The minute she comes out and says I am the British athlete (mentioned in Select Committee meeting), people will write ‘Radcliffe says ‘I’m not a drugs cheat’.

“I don’t want my children to grow up, put their mother’s name into Google and that to come up.”

Lough added that it was not his or Radcliffe’s choice to make the blood values known and on the higher value said: “It was at the World Half-Marathon Championship in Vilamoura in 2003. It was 29, 30 degrees.

“Paula ran the race and was urine and blood tested as soon as she was done. Now you have to wait two hours as it can produce elevated results. That would not be relevant now.”

The latest wave of claims came in the wake of allegations of endemic doping in Russia and wider claims of corruption and collusion in December, which are being investigated by an independent ethics committee.

Professor Ross Tucker, who runs the Science of Sport blog, said that individual off-score values alone could not prove or disprove doping because they needed to be examined in comparison with others.

“Off-score values are only part of the picture, which is why releasing three off-scores is not conclusive of anything, even if they are close to those cut-off limits,” he said.

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