According to an article that appeared in the Sunday Times, a British doctor has claimed he provide performance-enhancing drugs to many clients, including unnamed British Tour de France riders plus other sporting clients.

The doctor in question, Mark Bonar, was quoted by the story as saying that he assisted the athletes obtain the substances that are forbidden under anti-doping rules. Undercover reporters were told by the 38-year-old doctor that banned performance enhancing drugs were prescribed by him to 150 elite sportsmen, including British Tour de France cyclists, an England cricketer, Premier League footballers, a British boxing champion, tennis players, and martial arts competitors. The reporters were told by the doctor that he had treated sportsmen from the United Kingdom and abroad over the past six years banned substances such as Erythropoietin (EPO), anabolic steroids, and human growth hormone. Bonar described the performance improvements were “phenomenal”.

Bonar was secretly filmed by an undercover reporter at a private London clinic. The reporter pretended to be an athlete who was experiencing difficulties in recovering from training. In a video recording, Dr Bonar tells the ‘reporter athlete” that growth hormone and testosterone are very important for recovery and also in building strength. Bonar said obviously some of these treatments he use are banned on the professional circuit and added so you have to be mindful of that. Bonar added he had worked with lots of professional athletes who do use these treatments, but it is how you do it. The initial cost of the consultation between the “reporter athlete” and Dr Bonar was £780.

The athlete returned to the doctor after a period of two weeks and was told his blood tests were normal but Dr Bonar still suggested continuing taking banned substances. The doctor mentioned the levels of hematocrit in blood and talked about how they could be improved. Dr Bonar said the way that you would boost that potentially is to use Erythropoietin. Bonar also suggested that the “reporter” used DHEA and Injected growth hormone that are also banned in sport. The doctor also offered the reporter an injection of a slow-release testosterone at that point in time.

During the third meeting, another undercover reporter accompanied the first posing as his uncle and made it clear that the athlete was aiming to make it to the British Olympic squad. It was conceded by Dr Bonar that though the patient had no medical problems, the levels were ‘suboptimal’ and justified the prescribing of banned substances to him. Dr Bonar said the truth of the matter is that drugs are in sport and what he does is that he prescribes responsibly and he tries to keep his patients the optimum level of normal.

Responding to the Sunday Times, an inquiry into the taxpayer-funded UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) watchdog was ordered by the British culture secretary John Whittingdale. The allegations were described by Whittingdale as “shocked and deeply concerned” and he suggested that UKAD’s chief executive Nicole Sapstead should resign.

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