asked UK Anti-Doping what happens when they believe a rider has breached an anti-doping rule?
First of all: “The athlete will be alerted to the charges being brought against them,” said Lee Taylor, UK Anti-Doping’s communications officer. “We give them the opportunity to respond.
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“What they might try and do is try and prove if there are any exceptional circumstances as to why this may have happened. If we deem those circumstances exceptional then the charge is dropped.
“If not -if we don’t think the reason they’ve given is strong enough – then the case goes before the National Anti-Doping Panel.
“They’ll look at both sides and both sets of evidence and then come to their own conclusion as to whether an anti-doping rule violation has taken place or not.”
Until a decision has been made by the NAPD (an independent organization), UK Doping will not announce or comment on a case.
“From our point of view, it will always wait until it goes to the panel,” explained Taylor. “In line with the World Anti-Doping Code, no athlete is guilty of an anti-doping rule violation until such time the panel will have ruled on it.
“We can comment on the outcome of the case but until that happens there’ll be no comment made.”
What is the involvement of a sport’s governing body – in cycling’s case British Cycling?
Before the inception of UK Anti-Doping, BC would process a case. Now UK Anti-Doping have taken on that responsibility. Nonetheless the federation “need to be informed if the case is in their sport”.
“They’re under no obligation to make any comment themselves,” said Taylor. “And we would advise against it. In line with the code, there really isn’t any obligation to make a comment. Any comment made before [they go to panel] could infringe their rights because the athlete is not actually [deemed] guilty at that point.”
What’s UK Anti-Doping’s response if a case leaks before it goes to the panel?
“We don’t really have any control over that,” says Taylor. “If any name that is put out in the public domain hasn’t actually been found guilty of an anti doping offence, then our position would remain that there is nothing for us to comment on.”
Taylor explained that it can take considerable time for a case to be heard by the NAPD. This is perhaps where a pending case could get messy. But just becasue a case had leaked out into the public domian and the authorities haven’t commented on it, it doesn’t mean it’s a cover-up.
“We’re always happy to talk through processes but it’s part of our responsibility to not jeopadise an athlete until they’re found guilty,” said Taylor.