An inqury into UK Anti-Doping’s (UKAD’s) handling of an investigation into a doctor accused of prescribing banned substances to athletes has concluded that opportunities to gather intelligence, secure evidence and investigate him were missed. In particular, the report said that it was "difficult to understand" why there was no contact with the General Medical Council (GMC) when this was suggested to staff on at least seven occasions.
The Independent Review was commissioned by the UKAD Board following reports that Dr Mark Bonar had provided a number of British athletes with performance enhancing substances.
The whistleblower behind the investigation into Bonar was reported to be amateur cyclist Dan Stevens, who was handed a 21-month ban after failing to provide a urine sample in January 2014.
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 GMC, should have been undertaken by UKAD to establish whether any other intelligence might have existed which could have supported or negated the allegations made.
“It is difficult to understand why no contact was made with the GMC when that course of action was suggested on at least seven occasions either by members of UKAD, the athlete and his legal representatives throughout 2014,” he said.
Ward also questioned the decision not to reduce the source’s ban.
“The source identified another athlete who was then prioritised for testing by UKAD and two events were also targeted – it is without question that the testers would not have been at either event had it not been for the source’s information. In our opinion, the source should have been credited with providing that intelligence by UKAD reducing the length of his ban.”
In reponse, UKAD Chair, David Kenworthy said:
“This case has been challenging and complex but as a publicly funded body it is absolutely correct that UKAD be held to account for its actions. The team has been fully cooperative throughout the process and fully accepts that mistakes were made and lessons must be learnt.
“We continue to be firmly committed to our fight to protect clean sport and clean athletes. UKAD has enjoyed considerable success in using intelligence and information to catch cheats but this case was not up to the usual high standards of our work.
“All the recommendations made by the Independent Review have been accepted; some have already been implemented and there is a timeline for implementing the others."