Track & Field

Radcliffe: athletes should not release blood data

Paula Radcliffe has spoken out about the recent doping scandals in athletics, telling BBC today that she agrees with anti-doping agencies’ in advising athletes not to make their blood data public, despite several athletes doing so in recent weeks.

“I stand with the advice of WADA and UK Anti-doping on that point,” she said. “You can’t prove you’re clean unfortunately because we don’t have a 100pc foolproof system in place. What WADA are trying to say is ‘we don’t this data out there in the public domain because people don’t understand it'; it’s very complicated. It’s taken a long time to get [the bio-passport] to this position.

Paula with her children Raphael and Isla. Image via PhotoRun

Paula with her children Raphael and Isla. Image via PhotoRun

“It’s not a test you can fail, where you’re positive or negative. It can be an accurate pointer to blood doping, but if you put too much of that in the public domain, you risk doing a lot of things; you risk putting that information into the hands of the people trying to cheat that system and they work out how to stay in that perfect zone.”

Mo Farah, Jo Pavey and Ireland’s Rob Heffernan were among the athletes to make their off-score readings from the biological passport system public in the last two weeks in a bid to show they were competing clean, and Roan asked Radcliffe if she understood why those athletes chose to do so.

“We all want to do everything we can to ensure everyone we’re clean,” she said, “but the sad thing is there’s nothing in place at the moment that allows us to do that.”

Asked if she could assure everyone she ran her whole career clean, Radcliffe said: “Yes, absolutely. The whole point for me is that you look back and say, ‘That was the best I could do’. If you take a short cut, you can’t say that. You can’t look yourself in the mirror and say that was the absolute best you were capable of.”

Radcliffe stood over her 2:15 marathon time as a clean performance, which is three minutes faster than the second fastest woman on the all-time lists. “I’m proud of it,” she said. “You can’t control what other people are going to think or say, you can only know within yourself and the people that matter and what they believe, and there’s never been any question.

“It’s something I’m very proud of and I know I can teach the ethics and moral beliefs to my children and be proud of that and want them to be able to look back and learn from that.”

In an interview with Runner’s World earlier this year, which can be read here, Radcliffe said she still gets upset when people suggest she may have doped to run her world record.

“That just makes me so mad,” she said. “I know how hard I worked and what I put into it. You can get frustrated with what people say, but at the end of the day their opinion doesn’t really matter to me because I know I did it clean and no one can every take that away. I can look people in the eyes and say that I ran my whole career clean, know that I did, and my family knows that, my friends know that, everybody close to me knows that.”

To watch the video interview with Radcliffe from the BBC, click here.

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Cathal Dennehy

Cathal Dennehy

Cathal Dennehy is a freelance journalist, a once-serious, now-retired athlete who writes for a number of international publications in the running industry. He has won two sports-writing awards, the Peter Ball Memorial Award in Ireland and the Wills Writing Award in the UK. Nationally, he previously worked for the Sunday Tribune, Irish Runner magazine and has written for the Sunday Independent, Irish Independent, the Guardian and The Independent in Britain. He is a regular contributor to Running Times, Runner's World, RunBlogRun and the IAAF website.
His banter levels are often poor, occasionally exceptional.

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