Britain's anti-doping agency UKAD faces a government investigation and also pledged on Sunday to conduct their own review into wide-ranging doping allegations involving a doctor and high-level sport.
Culture, Media and Sport Secretary John Whittingdale wants to probe why UKAD did not take action against Mark Bonar after an athlete said he was given doping substances by the medic. "I have asked for there to be an urgent independent investigation into what action was taken when these allegations were first received," The Sunday Times quoted Whittingdale as saying. The Sunday Times and German broadcasters WDR, in a documentary which was set to be airedon Sunday, also said that Bonar has prescribed performance-enhancing drugs to some 150 elite athletes including Premier League footballers and Tour de France cyclists.
UKAD said it will conduct an independent review of these allegations, while Premier League sides Leicester City, Arsenal and Chelsea, who all allegedly had players treated by Bonar, swiftly dismissed the accusations as false, unsubstantiated and without foundation.
According to the reports, UKAD received documents in 2014 from a sportsman that suggested Bonar had prescribed him doping substances. The athlete was reportedly suspended for a doping rules offence and turned into a whistleblower. UKAD chief executive Nicole Sapstead said in a statement that it could take no action at the time because Bonar was not governed by a sport and fell outside its jurisdiction. "UKAD had no other intelligence to corroborate the sportsman's allegations," Sapstead said. "UKAD recommended ... that information could be passed, if appropriate, to the General Medical Council, which does have the powers to investigate possible medical malpractice and pursue if necessary." The other allegations made Sunday are said to be based on secret recordings of Bonar made by an "aspiring Olympic runner" who was sent to the doctor by journalists. "Some of these treatments I use are banned on a professional circuit," the Sunday Times and WDR quoted Bonar as saying in the recordings. "I have worked with lots of professional athletes who do use these treatments."
They quoted Bonar as saying he had given a prominent footballer the blood booster EPO, the steroid testosterone and Human Growth Hormone.
The Sunday Times acknowledged it had no independent evidence that Bonar treated players or that the clubs in question were aware of the alleged practices.
UKAD chairman David Kenworthy pledged that "an independent review will be conducted into the issues raised by the Sunday Times" and at "the way the information supplied by the sportsperson was handled and whether proper procedures were followed."
The English Football Association said it welcomes the UKAD review into what it named "very serious allegations."