Findings of the UKAD Independent Review Released

The UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) Board today released a summary of findings and recommendations made by an Independent Review into UKAD’s handling of intelligence in relation to a doctor on Harley Street, Dr Mark Bonar.

Led by former Merseyside Assistant Chief Constable, Andy Ward, the Independent Review was commissioned by the UKAD Board following media reports claiming that Dr Mark Bonar had provided a number of British athletes with performance enhancing substances.

The principal aim of the Review was to assess how UKAD had managed information passed to it by an athlete and whether proper procedures were followed in regards to the handling of that intelligence.

The Review was also asked, by the UKAD Board, to make recommendations about how to improve processes in the future. The Report, produced by the Review team, outlined nine suggestions for UKAD to consider and all of those recommendations have been accepted by the Board.

Chair of the Independent Review, Andy Ward said:

“This case has been particularly difficult and complex but first and foremost I have no doubt as to the commitment of all UKAD staff to tackle doping in sport. We received total support from UKAD and the staff we engaged with, who were completely open and honest in providing their explanations and in discussing every aspect of their involvement in the case.

“However, we found that there was some confusion and lack of clarity in the process of managing a source who wanted to reduce his doping ban by providing substantial assistance. It would appear that the source’s intention in making the approach to the media was to expose the concerns he holds in relation to UKAD’s handling of the case.

“We made a number of recommendations, which have been accepted by the UKAD Board, but it is important to highlight three particular areas for UKAD to focus on.

“Firstly, this case highlights that the process by which an athlete might elect to provide substantial assistance, as defined in the World Anti-Doping Code and the UK Anti-Doping Rules is unclear and confusing, both in what it is seeking to achieve and in how an athlete should be treated. We therefore recommend that UKAD, in agreement with WADA, reviews and clarifies article 10.6.1 of the World Anti-Doping Code in relation to the status of athletes who decide to provide substantial assistance.

“Secondly, the Review concluded that as a minimum standard of investigation, a simple check with Dr Bonar’s governing body, the General Medical Council, should have been undertaken by UKAD to establish whether any other intelligence may exist to support or negate the allegations made by the source. It is difficult to understand why no contact was made with the GMC when that course of action was suggested on at least seven occasions either by members of UKAD, the athlete and his legal representatives throughout 2014.

“Finally, the decision that the information provided by the athlete should not be regarded as substantial assistance, under the current regulations, was correct. However this is a subjective decision and we would argue that in this case the decision determined by UKAD was harsh. The source identified another athlete who was then prioritised for testing by UKAD and two events were also targeted – it is without question that the testers would not have been at either event had it not been for the source’s information. In our opinion, the source should have been credited with providing that intelligence by UKAD reducing the length of his ban.

“It is clear to us that opportunities to gather intelligence, secure evidence, and investigate Bonar have been missed. All members of UKAD have displayed complete transparency and are quite clearly motivated to support the organisation and take clear pride in their role of protecting clean sport.”

UKAD Chair, David Kenworthy said:

“I would like to thank Andy Ward and his team for carrying out the Review, which has been comprehensive and of huge importance to UKAD.

“This case has been challenging and complex but as a publicly funded body it is absolutely correct that UKAD be held to account for its actions. The team has been fully cooperative throughout the process and fully accepts that mistakes were made and lessons must be learnt.

“We continue to be firmly committed to our fight to protect clean sport and clean athletes. UKAD has enjoyed considerable success in using intelligence and information to catch cheats but this case was not up to the usual high standards of our work. 

“All the recommendations made by the Independent Review have been accepted; some have already been implemented and there is a timeline for implementing the others."

A summary of the Independent Review Report can be found here.