British government orders inquiry into doping claims

150 elite athletes have been linked with doping

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The Premier League trophy. Picture by: Adam Davy / PA Wire/Press Association Images

The British government has ordered an investigation into claims in the Sunday Times newspaper that a London based doctor prescribed performance enhancing drugs to leading sports men and women.

The UK’s culture secretary, John Whittingdale, has ordered an inquiry into the UK Anti-Doping watchdog over accusations it failed to respond to doping allegations linked to 150 elite sports people, including Premier League footballers.

The paper alleges that the country's Anti-Doping watchdog knew about it two years ago but failed to act. The organisation says it's "deeply concerned and shocked" by the allegations.

The report published by the Sunday Times today claimed that London-based anti-ageing doctor, Mark Bonar, had been involved in doping a number of British athletes as well as Premier League players from clubs such as Arsenal, Chelsea, Leicester City and Birmingham City.

 

Dr Mark Bonar. claims: "I do not ‘dope’ or treat patients for the sole purpose of performance enhancement even though these treatments may enhance performance as a secondary effect.”

Image: The Sunday Times

The newspaper was quick to add they have no independent evidence that he treated the unnamed players. Furthermore, there is also no evidence the clubs were aware of Bonar’s relationship with any players or drug use by them.

"In the past six years he has treated more than 150 sports people from the UK and abroad variously with banned substances such as erythropoietin (EPO), steroids and human growth hormone, and the sports performance improvements were phenomenal,” the report said.

Michele Verroken, who used to run the UK's anti-doping programme, said she's worried the system could be failing clean athletes.

"There's an awful lot of athletes who are taking part in an anti doping programme who constantly see these stories and must be hugely disappointed that we really are not restoring trust and confidence in people's enjoyment of sport."

In a statement UK Anti-doping (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."

Ukad chairman, David Kenworthy, 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."