Paula Radcliffe denies doping allegations

Paula Radcliffe
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LONDON (AP) — Paula Radcliffe, a three-time London Marathon winner who holds 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 wide-spread 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 has retired from international competition, said she was “effectively” implicated during a Parliamentary hearing Tuesday into allegations of doping leveled last month by The Sunday Times newspaper and German broadcaster ARD.

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, 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.”

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.

“It is profoundly disappointing that the cloak of Parliamentary privilege has been used to effectively implicate me, tarnishing my reputation, with full knowledge that I have no recourse against anyone for repeating what has been said at the committee hearing,” Radcliffe said.

MORE TRACK AND FIELD: Radcliffe says farewell at London Marathon

Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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Sifan Hassan sets marathon debut

Sifan Hassan
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Sifan Hassan, who won 5000m and 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in an unprecedented triple, will make her 26.2-mile debut at the London Marathon on April 23.

Hassan, a 30-year-old Dutchwoman, said she will return to the track after the race, but how the London Marathon goes will play into whether she bids for the Olympic marathon in 2024.

“I want to see what I can do on the marathon distance, to make future decisions,” she posted on social media. “We’ll see if I will finish the distance or if the distance will finish me.”

Exhausted by her Olympic feat, Hassan reportedly went at least seven months after the Tokyo Games between training in track spikes. She finished fourth in the 10,000m and sixth in the 5000m at last July’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon.

“I really needed a break after the Tokyo Olympics,” Hassan said at worlds. “I was mentally crashed. I didn’t even care about running.”

London, billed as the best women’s marathon field in history, also boasts Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and the two fastest Americans in history, Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato.

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