Dr. Ross Tucker: Football's denial of doping claims is the same as we've seen from other sports

Speaking on Off The Ball on Sunday, Ross Tucker stated that we are still no closer to solving the problem of doping

Premier League, doping, trophy

Image: Adam Davy / PA Wire/Press Association Images

The Premier League has found itself at the centre of a doping controversy after a story in The Sunday Times claimed that a number of players had been taking performance enhancing drugs. 

The story features claims by Dr. Mark Bonar that he doped 150 elite sports stars over the space of six years, including players from Premier League footballers as well as a number of other sports. 

Speaking to Joe Molloy on Off The Ball on Sunday, Tucker stated that, as someone who watches sports, "it's just demoralising because last week it was Russia, the week before it was China, now we're in the UK and there seems to be no end to this carousel of doping controversies and allegations. We're seemingly no wiser and no closer to be able to resolve them".

"We're now four months away from the Olympic Games in Rio," added Tucker "and it's very difficult to say that you're going to watch with confidence what' you see happening in the Olympic Games and say 'ok, that's credible'". 

Speaking about the statement released by UK Anti-Doping in which they discredit the claims in the paper, Tucker argued that there were a number of inconsistencies which "make UK Anti-Doping look like more like a public relations agency than it does an investigative, authoritative body and that's demoralising. If I was an athlete, that would be a pretty bitter pill to swallow". 

While Tucker argues that, given the circumstances of the investigation and that the report says they were unable to get independent verification, it's still worrying even if Bonar is exaggerating: "Even if it's 20 [athletes], it means that there are 20 athletes who have found a way to get illicit drugs easily. Not cheaply, but easily, because this is a doctor who works at an anti-ageing clinic and there are many more than one of those".

"What it shows is that the barriers to obtaining illegal drugs for use in sports are fairly low, and whether it's 20 athletes or 150 athletes, to me it's almost irrelevant because it's more that this person is symptomatic of what probably is a more widespread issue". 

Tucker also noted that the reaction to the story, which, for the large part, has been to brush it under the carpet and try to discredit the doctor at the center of the allegations, is very familiar to those who have followed similar stories in cycling and athletics. 

"People are quite keen, in this instance, to discredit this doctor as a quack and as a sleaze and as a dirty guy, to the point that now he's not even a doctor. But that was only until a week ago. That wasn't the case six years ago [...] when he was giving all these drugs, allegedly. 

"Unfortunately, the response that we're seeing from football is the same, perhaps even more extreme than we've seen in many others sports and many other athletes and teams, which is one of denial and dismissal".

You can listen to the full interview below: