The sport we love: How much have we been in denial over doping?

I believed, like many others, that taking performance-enhancing drugs was a problem for a minority of people in a minority of sports.  It is increasingly clear that I have been in a state of denial for many years

Like some hideous conspiracy project, the extent of the problem is revealing itself more and more.

“What do you think about [****] ?” Someone asked me yesterday.Tudor Rickards   He was referring to one of the high-profile cases in a sport he knew I was interested in.

“Unfortunate” I said uneasily.  “A career ruined”

“… and [****]?” He mentioned another sporting superstar whose name is a global brand.

“There have been accusations for some years” I admitted.  “But some people are looking at exceptional performances as proof of drug-taking. ”

He nodded.

 Within hours, another story broke 

The UK anti-drugging agency (Ukad) is now under Government scrutiny for its mishandling of the case of a London Doctor who is alleged to have been involved in treating numerous athletes, some well-known, and in a range of different sports.

The Sunday Times revealed a dramatic sting operation in which the doctor was filmed making claims about his clients. The newspaper reports that Ukad had knowledge of the doctor from an athlete, but had decided not to investigate further.

In the sting, the doctor, Mark Bonar, implicated athletes from

Cycling

Cricket

Tennis

Football

The newspaper says it has secretly filmed the medic claiming that he has prescribed performance-enhancing drugs such as EPO, steroids and human growth hormone to 150 elite sports professionals from the UK and abroad

According to the BBC:

 Bonar has told the Sunday Times he treated the athletes for medical reasons and not to enhance their performance. There is no suggestion the substances were illegal.

Athletes contacted by the newspaper either denied Bonar had treated them or declined to comment.

The government investigation stems from claims made by a whistleblower athlete who was banned for breaching anti-doping rules in 2014.

According to [The Sunday Times] the sportsman -who wishes to remain anonymous – approached Ukad with evidence that indicated Bonar had allegedly prescribed him performance-enhancing drugs.

Ukad says it did begin an investigation into Bonar but found that he was outside of its jurisdiction as he was not governed by a sport, and decided not to pass the case to the General Medical Council (GMC) or to contact him

The Culture and Media Scretary, John  Whittingdale has called for an enquiry.

Ukad’s CEO Nicole Sapstead also expressed her distress at the revelations.

Nicole Sapstead was appointed to Ukad in February. She has aleady spoken out about Rugby Union and drug-taking which she described as “a societal problem” in Wales, a vigorous if somewhat controversial way of expressing a point. The reported staory did not say whether she expressed distress on that occasion.

The story develops

Within  hours, [April 3rd, 2016] the story developed with accusations of football players involved from three Premier League clubs, Arsenal, Chelsea and Leicester.

The clubs responded swiftly, denying that the clubs had ever paid for service of the accused doctor.

To be continued

 

 

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