United Kingdom

IAN HERBERT: The memory of our golden summer has been tarnished

UK Anti-Doping responded with a 40-word statement to the revelations that their former legal director tipped off British Cycling to a drugs violation, had a quiet chat with a non-accredited laboratory about its scientists conducting a discreet investigation for the sport - and then never bothered to check the outcome.

Extraordinary. Beyond belief, actually. That brevity should be a source of anger to every British athlete who participated at the 2012 London Olympics.

Because if that UKAD man, Graham Arthur, was so malleable and helpful to British Cycling about an irregular nandrolone result in 2010, then how do we know he did not respond in the same way with other sports?

We will never be able to view that golden summer of the 2012 Olympics in the same way again

It is a matter of public record that Arthur was suspended from UKAD in 2016 after a review found he had failed to inform the General Medical Council that a Harley Street doctor, Mark Bonar, was alleged to have supplied performance-enhancing drugs to professional sportspeople.

The credibility of UKAD, a body supposed to be maintaining the sanctity of sport, is shot to pieces. First we have Arthur allowing British Cycling to investigate themselves. 

Then we have him agreeing, in an email sent in January 2011, to speak to the boss at the HFL lab in Cambridgeshire about giving the go-ahead for an off-the-books test of three elite cyclists. 

The management team at BC involved in the testing at the time were performance director Dave Brailsford (L) performance manager Shane Sutton (C) and psychologist Steve Peters (R)

The same HFL lab was stripped of its international accreditation in 2007 by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) because it was declaring nutritional products it had examined to be 'WADA-approved' when they were not.

And then, when the Cambridgeshire lab's results do not remove the cloud of suspicion surrounding the initial suspect result, we have no follow-up from Arthur. A free pass for cycling.

What we needed to hear from UKAD - after the Mail on Sunday's probe triggered WADA's announcement that it will be investigating - was that there would be urgent efforts to speak to Arthur and his contemporaries. 

That files and emails would be examined to establish whether there were other occasions on which the Cambridgeshire lab had been used.

The best we can hope for now is a prompt and thorough WADA investigation into the issue

Instead, those 40 meagre words included the claim that UKAD are 'examining archives' - when they were told in January 2019 that this chummy chat took place between Arthur and the four men running British Cycling. Plenty of time to get to the archives.

The whistleblower's 2019 evidence also means that UKAD cannot claim that this episode - which leaves British sport with no right to repudiate the Russians for their state-sponsored cheating - is not on their watch.

The best we can now hope for is a prompt, thorough WADA investigation. But whatever happens next, UKAD have tarnished the memory of 2012. We will never be able to view that golden summer in quite the same way again.

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