Recently-retired Assistant Chief Constable Andy Ward will lead the independent review into UK Anti-Doping’s handling of the Dr Mark Bonar affair.
Ward, who left his post with Merseyside Police in January, has been appointed by the UKAD Board, with the agreement of Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport John Whittingdale.
The inquiry has been set up following allegations in The Sunday Times last weekend that Bonar prescribed performance-enhancing drugs to 150 athletes.
The newspaper claimed UKAD was given information about the doctor’s alleged doping activities two years ago but failed to take action.
UKAD chairman David Kenworthy said on the organisation’s website: “Andy Ward is a strong choice to carry out the review into UK Anti-Doping’s handling of intelligence in relation to Dr Mark Bonar.
“He is independent of sport so will bring a fresh and uninfluenced perspective, whilst his extensive experience of intelligence handling will be critical to the review.
“Andy’s role will be to examine how the information supplied by the sportsperson was handled and whether proper procedures were followed. Andy will also be asked to make any recommendations to improve processes in the future.
“As a publicly-funded body, it is correct that UKAD be held to account for any actions it takes and the team is very supportive of, and will fully cooperate with, the review process.”
The Sunday Times report alleged Bonar claimed to have treated more than 150 sportsmen and women — including Premier League footballers, British Tour de France cyclists, tennis players and a British boxer — with banned substances including EPO, human growth hormone and steroids.
A Twitter account purporting to belong to Bonar on Sunday night, although not verified, described the allegations as “false and very misleading”.
Press Association Sport understands that, although UKAD was made aware of general allegations against Bonar by an unnamed sportsman in April and May of 2014, the information was vague and not at the level of detail reportedly uncovered by The Sunday Times.
UKAD was subsequently supplied with handwritten prescriptions apparently issued by Bonar that were given to an independent medical expert for analysis.
UKAD recommended the sportsman who brought the allegations to its attention gather more information and pass it on to the GMC — the national body responsible for the registration and conduct of doctors — “if appropriate” as the doctor was outside its jurisdiction.
The GMC has confirmed that, while Bonar is registered with it, he does not have a current licence to practise medicine in the UK.
Meanwhile, the World Anti-Doping Agency has reiterated its opposition to criminalising doping in sport. There have been calls for the UK Government to change the law following the latest revelations.
Former British Olympic Association chairman Lord Moynihan is one advocate, and a petition in his name on change.org has so far attracted more than 500 signatures.
WADA disagrees, and a series of posts on its Twitter account read: “Sanctions for athlete doping use a settled issue, agreed on by the world through 2015 World Anti-Doping Code.
“Four-year period of ineligibility for first time doping offence a settled process agreed by sport + government with 2015 World Anti-Doping Code.
“WADA does however encourage governments to introduce laws that penalize those who are trafficking and distributing banned substances.”
A statement from WADA on the issue last October said: “WADA does not wish to interfere in the sovereign right of any government to make laws for its people.
“However the Agency believes that the sanction process for athletes, which includes a right of appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, is a settled process, accepted by all governments of the world, and further that the sanctions for a doping violation by an athlete, which now includes a longer, four-year period of ineligibility, have been globally accepted by sport and government.
“As such, the Agency does not believe that doping should be made a criminal offence for athletes.”
Moynihan said on BBC Radio 5 Live: “The real deterrent that cheating athletes fear is the fear of going to prison – not the fear of being stood down from their sport for a year or two or four.
“We would see far fewer than the alleged 150 even trying doping in sport if they knew it was a criminal activity.”
Whittingdale has pledged to strengthen the law if investigations throw up any loopholes.