British athlete Paula Radcliffe has told Sky News she feels she was blackmailed when she was approached about doping claims.
Radcliffe said she had been approached by the Sunday Times newspaper with the claims and she offered to explain them, but was not given a chance.
The reason she has gone public in defending herself, she said, was because she felt she had been identified in Parliament and she had no choice but to speak out.
It comes after the head of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee appeared to raise suspicions about a prominent British marathon runner during the questioning of David Kenworthy, chairman of UKAD, the UK’s national anti-doping agency.
Mr Kenworthy was being questioned about claims in the Sunday Times of blood doping by past winners of the London Marathon, which Radcliffe won in 2002, 2003 and 2005.
On Tuesday, following the committee hearing, Radcliffe issued a statement categorically denying ever having cheated .
Radcliffe told Sky: “I’m a little bit relieved that I’m able to speak out and defend myself but I’m very angry, hurt and upset that I’ve been put in this situation.
“I don’t feel I had any choice. He identified me and people then have free rein because of parliamentary privilege to go ahead and name me in the press.
“At that point I’m not willing to be blackmailed by the paper in question any more on this matter and I’m going to come out and defend myself.
“I wanted to avoid it because I didn’t want my name to go on the front pages. I definitely don’t want my children to put their mum’s name into Google and find the first thing that comes up is ‘drugs cheat’.
“But I will not stand by and not defend myself, because in the beginning, when the journalists came to me, I offered them a reasonable explanation.
“I do feel it’s blackmail.
“When I tried to call back, the editor of the Sunday Times, they didn’t take my calls. I offered to sit down with the experts to be able to go through and rationally explain it. ”
Speaking under the protection of Parliamentary privilege, committee chairman Jesse Norman asked Mr Kenworthy during the hearing at Westminster: “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.
The parliamentary inquiry into doping in athletics was launched after The Sunday Times reported last month on controversial analysis which suggested the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) had ignored hundreds of suspicious blood tests.
Radcliffe told Sky News her blood was not abnormal and said she should have been called by the committee, if it was raising concerns about British marathon runners.
She said: “There is nothing special about my blood. That is one of the reasons I am so frustrated here. It sits right in the middle. There are one or two minor fluctuations for me that are not major fluctuations when you look at them in the body of all of that data out there.
“There is nothing strange or different about my blood, and that isn’t what makes you run fast. It’s the physiology, the training, the mental preparation … something in me that makes me attack a race from the beginning.”
She said that, if there are discrepancies in blood data, they should be looked at by experts before being judged.
“It should be in the hands of relevant experts, who are qualified, who have all of the context to be able to understand it properly.
“I’ve never had anything to hide. All of my results, in terms of the number of tests that I’ve done and the results, all of which are negative, which I’m happy to share, I have released to numerous experts.”