WADA investigating UK Anti-Doping after allegedly allowing British Cycling to conduct own drug inquest

After a 2010 sample from a prominent rider returned trace amounts of the steroid nandrolone, it is alleged UKAD allowed British Cycling to conduct their own private investigation into the matter

British Cycling (Getty)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The World Anti-Doping Agency has launched an investigation into UK Anti-Doping after a 2010 sample from a prominent GB cyclist contained traces of the steroid nandrolone, with British Cycling then allegedly permitted to conduct its own private investigation despite WADA code stating that UKAD had an obligation to look into the matter.

WADA has asked its Intelligence and Investigations Department to look into the case and to gather more information from UKAD, who told British Cycling that the rider's sample contained a low level of nandrolone in late 2010, with private testing then said to have been carried out by British Cycling in 2011.

Nandrolone is a threshold substance, meaning a certain amount needs to be detected in order to raise concerns for an anti-doping agency, and UKAD is said to have contacted British Cycling under the belief that the trace amounts were because of a health issue or contaminated supplement.

These allegations, made by the Mail on Sunday, disclose the athlete was tested out of competition and an "unusual" amount of nandrolone was found in their urine, with British Cycling then said to have "green-lighted" the British Cycling private testing and UKAD admitting to having no record of what happened afterwards.

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WADA's investigation will focus on establishing the facts of what happened after UKAD alerted British Cycling to the nandrolone sample, why it allegedly allowed British Cycling to conduct its own private investigation, and whether either health issues or contaminated supplements were ever found to be the cause of the detection of the steroid.

"We are working with WADA to investigate claims relating to private testing carried out by British Cycling in 2011," UKAD told the BBC.

"UKAD is examining archives to confirm decisions that were taken in 2011 followed due process set by WADA. Sometimes amounts of a 'threshold substance' can be reported by the laboratory in a negative sample which are found to be below the threshold where an investigation is required.

"These are trace amounts and can sometimes occur in the body naturally. The guidance from WADA is that these trace findings may be used to help to decide who gets tested and when in the future, but does not automatically lead to an investigation.

"We work within the WADA framework and are always happy to work with them if they ever require any further information from us on any of our activities."

WADA told the Mail on Sunday its allegations are "of significant concern to WADA" and "any allegation that a National Governing Body may be testing their athletes in private, in a non-accredited laboratory, for the purposes of screening for a prohibited substance should be investigated thoroughly."

British Cycling told the newspaper that with none of the people relevant to the enquiry currently working for the organisation, verifying allegations is proving difficult, but they will look into unearthing emails to help shed some light on what happened.

"None of the people relevant to your enquiry now work for British Cycling and this makes it difficult to check any of the information you have sent, particularly given the events you describe are over a decade ago," British Cycling said.

"We are happy to check what email records we have from the time and — subject to GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation] and other legal or regulatory constraints — share our findings with you. But this is not a straightforward process and will take some time so we are not able to respond before your deadline."

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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.

Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).

I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.