Inquiry ordered after top footballers ‘doped’ by British doctor

Posted by: Admin on April 3, 2016 Under: News

Doctor who alleges banned substances prescribed to 150 sports people does not hold licence to practise medicine in UK

John Whittingdale
John Whittingdale has ordered an inquiry into the UK anti-doping watchdog. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

The government has ordered an independent inquiry into the UK anti-doping watchdog Ukad over accusations that it failed to respond to doping allegations linked to 150 elite sports people.

The culture secretary, John Whittingdale, pledged to immediately launch an investigation into allegations that a British doctor, Mark Bonar, prescribed performance-enhancing drugs to UK athletes including Premier League footballers, England cricketers and Tour de France cyclists.

Whittingdale, responding to a Sunday Times investigation (paywall) into Bonar, said he was shocked and deeply concerned by suggestions that Ukad had not acted on evidence received two years ago.

“I have asked for an urgent independent investigation into what action was taken when these allegations were first received and what more needs to be done to ensure that British sport remains clean,” Whittingdale told the paper.

“There is no room for complacency in the fight against doping and the government is already looking at whether existing legislation in this area goes far enough. If it becomes clear that stronger criminal sanctions are needed, then we will not hesitate to act.”

The paper reported that Bonar claims in the past six years to have treated more than 150 sports people from the UK and abroad with banned substances such as erythropoietin (EPO), steroids and human growth hormone, and that the sports performance improvements were “phenomenal”.

Alleged clients include footballers, boxers, cyclists and tennis players. The Sunday Times did not reveal the identities of any of those sports people Bonar allegedly claims to have treated

Bonar told the paper he had not breached General Medical Council rules. But it emerged on Saturday that he does not hold a licence to practise medicine in the UK, leading the GMC to suggest his London practice may be breaching the law.

Niall Dickson, the chief executive of the GMC, said: “These are serious allegations and we will follow them up as a matter of urgency. We expect all doctors to follow our guidance – if they fail to do so they are putting their right to practise in jeopardy.

“Dr Bonar does not currently hold a licence and is therefore unable to practise medicine in the UK. Any doctor without a licence who continues to carry out the privileged duties of a doctor is committing a serious breach of our guidance, and potentially a criminal offence.”

Bonar told the Sunday Times: “The fact that some of my patients happen to be professional athletes is irrelevant. If they have proven deficiencies on blood work and are symptomatic, I will treat them. They are fully well aware of the risks of using these medicines in professional sport and it is their responsibility to comply with anti-doping regulations.”

There is no suggestion that any Premier League clubs were aware of any alleged wrongdoing, and the Sunday Times said it had no independent evidence that the players were treated.

Any alleged malpractice by doctors is a matter for the GMC, which has clear rules forbidding the prescription of drugs to enhance athletic performance.

In a statement, Ukad said: “Ukad’s sole mission is to protect clean athletes and clean sport. As an arm’s-length body to government, our purpose and mandate is clear – to uncover and prosecute those who cheat, and contravene, the spirit of sport … To avoid possible vexatious and spurious accusations, we scrutinise each piece of intelligence and will take immediate action when the intelligence indicates that it is appropriate to do so.”

David Kenworthy, the chairman of Ukad, added: “An independent review will be conducted into the issues raised. They will be asked to look at … whether proper procedures were followed. They will also be asked to make any recommendations to improve the way in which intelligence is dealt with in the future so that Ukad can be as effective as possible in keeping sport clean.”

Source: theguardian.com

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