Thursday, September 10, 2015

Dopey data

The women's marathon world record holder Paula Radcliff is receiving a lot of heat in the media at the moment all because some blood test data was leaked (stolen) to a newspaper who then implied that some of the results suggested that a "household name" was involved in doping. Later a parliamentary committee chairman suggested that a British marathon winner was implicated in this story (he may as well have named her).

I don't know whether Radcliff took drugs or not, she should certainly be assumed innocent until proven guilty but I am pretty sure that her current approach of refusing to release her data and simply gazing, wide-eyed, into the camera and assuring us that she is "clean" will not do. Unfortunately the huge financial rewards available to top athletes (of all sports) these days brings with it a responsibility to show (beyond reasonable doubt) that cheating is not a factor in any success. As has been seen from assertive, media-savvy characters such as Lance Armstrong among others, simply saying you're clean (in an assertive manner) is no guarantee of fair play. I fear Radcliff needs to show (and explain) her data. She claims it could be misinterpreted, which may well be true, but this could be minimised by getting a suitably qualified expert to present it on her behalf. It would be very much in the broader interests of athletics generally that this matter be resolved one way or another, whenever there are gaps in our knowledge people have a tendency to fill them with all manner of fiction and malice.

No comments: