BY Ayyaz Malik
The Premier League has this week been rocked with rumours that a private doctor has been prescribing banned performance enhancing drugs to over 150 British athletes, including footballers.
Doctor Mark Bonar who made the claims, said that he has treated players with these drugs. There is no independent evidence that players from any of these clubs have been treated by Dr Bonar and no evidence that the clubs were aware of any relationship between the doctor and any of its players, or of any alleged drug use. Bonar made his claims to The Sunday Times newspaper and insists his work did not breach General Medical Council (GMC) rules and that it was athletes’ responsibility to ensure they did not take banned drugs.
Leicester City Football Club, one of the clubs who have apparently been named as one of the clubs that have players who have apparently been taking the drugs, has emphatically denied any involvement in this affair.
“Leicester City follows robust and comprehensive anti-doping protocols to ensure its full compliance an
d that of its players with all anti-doping rules and regulations.”
As part of the service he was offering, Dr Bonar is said to have introduced undercover reporters to a former Chelsea fitness coach, although there is no suggestion the coach in question was involved in the alleged treatment, or evidence that the coach referred players that Bonar claims to have treated. Chelsea also released a defiant statement on the matter:
“Chelsea Football Club has never used the services of Dr Bonar and has no knowledge or record of any of our players having been treated by him or using his services.
“We take the issue of performance-enhancing drugs in sport extremely seriously and comply fully with all anti-doping rules and regulations. Chelsea FC players are regularly and rigorously tested by the relevant authorities.”
Arsenal, another team who have been dragged in to Dr Bonar’s claims were similarly dismissive of the allegations: “Arsenal Football Club is extremely disappointed by the publication of these false claims which are without foundation,” said a statement. “The club takes its responsibilities in this area very seriously and our players are well aware of what is expected. We strictly adhere to all guidelines set by the World Anti-Doping Agency.”
Championship side Birmingham City just like the other sides were also unimpressed with the claims and equally as dismissive. The club had this to say about the matter: “The club have not used the services of Mark Bonar and have no knowledge or record of any of our players, past or present, doing so.”
The Sunday Times reported that Bonar claims in the past six years to have treated more than 150 sports people from the UK and abroad with banned substances such as erythropoietin (EPO), steroids and human growth hormone, and that the performance improvements were “phenomenal”.
The government has ordered an independent inquiry into the UK anti-doping watchdog Ukad over the accusations. The culture secretary, John Whittingdale, has expressed deep concern over suggestions that Ukad had not acted on evidence received two years ago.
“I have asked for an urgent independent investigation into what action was taken when these allegations were first received and what more needs to be done to ensure that British sport remains clean,” Whittingdale said.
Although all claims at this point are allegations only, it is certainly not ideal to have their names brought up in this. Just like everyone else, we hope that this investigation helps clear anybody who has been wrongly been accused and catches the people who are genuinely looking to cheat the sporting system.