The Government has said it is to launch a review of UK Anti-Doping’s (Ukad) practices early next year. The Mirror reports that it will be the first such review since Ukad was formed as an independent body in November 2009.
Appearing before MPs on the culture, media and sport select committee, sports minister Tracey Crouch said:
"Ukad remains one of the best anti-doping agencies in the world, but we're certainly not complacent, so I will be launching a review into Ukad in the new year.
"That's partly because they were founded in 2009 and all government agencies are subject to periodic review and Ukad hasn't had one yet.
"And while we accept that Ukad has a brilliant reputation for its anti-doping regime and testing - which is why it's been used in Russia to try to get them compliant with the Wada (World Anti-Doping Agency) code – we want to make sure it remains that way and we have a robust system in place."
As well as its work in Russia, where it has been mandated by Wada to oversee the Russian Anti-Doping Agency's attempts to rebuild its testing operation, Ukad also advised the International Olympic Committee's 'Pre-Rio Anti-Doping Taskforce' on an intelligence-led approach to testing.
However, the organisation’s reputation is not unblemished. In July an inquiry into its handling of an investigation into Dr Mark Bonar – who was accused of prescribing banned substances to athletes – concluded that opportunities to gather intelligence, secure evidence and investigate him were missed.
Amateur cyclist Dan Stevens was the whistleblower behind the investigation and the chair of the independent review, former Merseyside Assistant Chief Constable Andy Ward, said there was “some confusion and lack of clarity” in how to manage a source looking to reduce a drugs ban through whistleblowing.
He also said that a simple check with Dr Bonar’s governing body, the General Medical Council, should have been undertaken to establish whether any other intelligence might have existed which could have supported or negated the allegations made – action he said had been suggested “on at least seven occasions.”
Ukad also suffered a defeat at the Court of Arbitration for Sport when Lizzie Deignan (then Armitstead) successfully appealed against a ban for missing three tests within a year, by showing that Ukad's doping control officer had not made reasonable attempts to locate the rider.
In a statement, Ukad chief executive Nicole Sapstead welcomed the review, saying: "This an opportunity for us to take stock of how we operate and determine what else can be done, by both Ukad and the government, to improve our approach to anti-doping in the UK."