LONDON (Reuters) - The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has responded to marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe's call to "help clear her name" by saying it is committed to protecting the confidentiality of all athletes' blood data.
The Briton, who retired from competitive running this year, complained this week that a parliamentary committee hearing into wide-ranging accusations of blood doping in athletics had "effectively implicated" her.
A statement on Friday from the agency's director general David Howman noted that media reports had included an appeal to WADA by Radcliffe who has faced calls to release her data and denied cheating "in any form".
Her husband and coach Gary Lough had also told the BBC that WADA must "protect clean athletes".
The WADA statement emphasized that no information dating from before 2009 "could ever be considered as doping, legally or otherwise.
"Tarnishing an athlete's name based on values from pre-2009 would be wholly irresponsible," it said. "Even athletes' data from post-2009, when the ABP (athletes' biological passport) had been introduced, is not necessarily indicative of doping.
"WADA is committed to protecting the confidentiality of athletes. In particular their private medical information," read the statement.
Radcliffe, 41, was not mentioned by name during the hearing at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport but a question was asked about the validity of the performances of British women in the London Marathon, an event she has won three times.
The hearing took place following recent reports by Britain's Sunday Times newspaper and German TV station ARD of alleged blood-doping in athletics.
Radcliffe set her marathon record time of 2:15:25, which remains nearly three minutes faster than any other time clocked by a female runner, in 2003.
"If any athlete feels their rights are being eroded or inappropriately challenged as a result of the ARD and Sunday Times reports they must refer those concerns to the Commission," said WADA. "This is the correct channel versus trial by media.
"It is very unfortunate that any athlete should feel implicated and that they have to defend their reputation as a result.
"WADA has a clear and established process set out in the World Anti-Doping Code that protects athletes," the agency added.
"If any athlete were to have a case to answer it allows them a full hearing and an opportunity for their voice to be heard. Our actions must remain impartial."
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Tony Jimenez)