Radcliffe speaks out after 12 'months of hell' over doping link

Radcliffe went public in September to defend her name. Credit: PA

Paula Radcliffe "had to endure 12 months of hell" after her name got dragged into athletics' doping scandal.

Radcliffe went public in September to defend her name after claiming she had effectively been identified by a committee of MPs as having provided suspicious blood samples.

Athletics' world governing body the IAAF has since cleared Radcliffe of any wrongdoing, saying the three-times London Marathon winner and the current marathon world record holder had "clearly plausible explanations for the values in her profile that are entirely innocent."

But the 43-year-old has admitted the whole incident took its toll on her and her family.

She told the Mail on Sunday: "I have had to endure 12 months of hell. The children have been affected by it... all the phone calls and the worry, all the ruined holidays because mum and dad are busy talking to lawyers.

"I've never been in that position before where you haven't done anything wrong but people think you're guilty. I had letters from 10 separate people who had almost committed suicide because they were accused of something they didn't do."

Radcliffe felt forced to defend herself when during an investigation into blood doping in the sport, Tory MP Jesse Norman, of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, seemed to raise suspicions about a prominent British marathon runner while questioning David Kenworthy, chairman of UK Anti-Doping.

He asked Kenworthy during the House of Commons hearing: ''When you hear that the London Marathon, potentially the winners or medallists at the London Marathon, potentially British athletes are under suspicion for very high levels of blood doping....When you think of the effect that has on young people and the community nature of that event, what are your emotions about that, how do you feel about that?''

Radcliffe criticised the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and UK Anti-Doping for failing to defend her.

She added: "I was very angry with WADA and UK Anti-Doping about the way it was handled. When the issue was brought up in the select committee they had the perfect opportunity to say there had never been any question about any samples of British athletes.

"Or, if they weren't going to defend me, they should have invited me so I could defend myself. I can explain those readings but no one invites me to these things.

"You have to take the figures in context. You have to look at what was happening at the time. No one did that. They looked at the figures and came to all the wrong conclusions."

Radcliffe racing in 2002. Credit: PA

The allegations of a widespread blood-doping culture in the sport were made in a documentary by German television broadcaster ARD and in the Sunday Times. Both media organisations, and the expert opinions they quoted, were heavily criticised in a statement released by the IAAF on Friday. Neither media organisation ever named Radcliffe in their programmes or reports.

Anti-doping experts Michael Ashenden and Robin Parisotto, whose opinions were sought in regard to the data the Sunday Times had obtained, both defended their comments in statements released on Saturday.

"The irony of a disgraced federation casting aspersions (on me) is not lost on me," Ashenden said.

"The Independent Commission (of WADA which looked into the Russian doping scandal) said that the IAAF was inexplicably lax in following up suspicious blood profiles. I witnessed symptoms of that disgraceful behaviour when I inspected a database drenched with suspect blood profiles. And I made comment accordingly."