A World Anti-Doping Agency report has uncovered “potential wrongdoing” by “individuals” involved in the drug testing of British cyclists.
The agency’s independent Intelligence and Investigations (I&I) department launched its Operation Echo probe in March amid allegations aimed at British Cycling and United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) over actions taken in 2011 during the build-up to the London Olympics.
Commenting on its summary report, WADA I&I director Gunter Younger said: “Operation Echo confirmed potential wrongdoing by individuals in both British Cycling and UKAD at that time.
“Following this investigation, a copy of our report was provided to the WADA Compliance, Rules and Standards Department for its consideration.
“In addition, the summary report was provided to the Union Cycliste Internationale – the governing body under which British Cycling operates – and to the United Kingdom Department of Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport for their attention.
“Operation Echo’ makes no corrective recommendations as those involved in the events of 2011 are no longer employed by UKAD, and UKAD has already put safeguards in place to avoid a repeat occurrence.
“It is important to acknowledge that WADA I&I received the full co-operation and transparency of British Cycling and UKAD throughout our investigation.”
The report says British Cycling employees investigating the potential contamination of supplements collected samples from elite riders on the basis that UKAD would never know the results and had them analysed for the anabolic steroid nandrolone by a non-WADA-accredited laboratory, contrary to WADA rules.
Operation Echo also established that at least one UKAD employee was aware of the situation, and that the body has no record of receiving the analysis results.
However, it found no evidence to support allegations that UKAD had released individual athletes’ biological passport data to British Cycling in 2016, or that it had allowed two athletes advancing a contaminated supplements defence following adverse findings to privately test the products in question and that UKAD had accepted the results at a subsequent anti-doping hearing.
British Cycling said the report attached no fault to the organisation for the role it played in the 2011 study, and that the member of staff who co-ordinated it with UKAD had left the organisation several years ago.
In addition, it pointed to changes it has made in its own procedures, including the appointment of a chief medical officer accountable to the chief executive, the creation of a clinical governance committee and the introduction of electronic medical note-keeping.
A statement read: “These improvements demonstrate the standards to which we hold ourselves and which British Cycling members and fans of our sport rightly expect us to achieve.
“Notwithstanding that WADA attached no fault to British Cycling, these improvements mean the 2011 events described in the WADA review could not be repeated at British Cycling today and, while there can be no room for complacency, we are proud of the progress we have made towards our ambition of becoming a world-leading governing body.”
In March, former British Cycling and Team Sky chief doctor Richard Freeman was permanently struck off the medical register after either admitting or being found guilty on 21 of 22 charges relating to the ordering of testosterone to British Cycling headquarters in 2011, as well as poor record-keeping and inappropriate treatment of non-riders.
A spokesperson for WADA welcomed the report’s findings and said: “WADA’s report focuses on matters from 2011 and on the involvement of one individual, who is no longer employed by UKAD. We acknowledge that these matters would not take place today.
“The report from WADA makes clear that the results of the testing carried out by British Cycling were all negative and notes the negative results from UKAD’s own extensive testing of British Cycling athletes at that time.
“We agree that anti-doping organisations should be held to the highest standards and we will fully consider the contents report. However, WADA has not made any recommendations for action by UKAD.”