Football

Drugs 
in EPL?

UK's Sunday Times claims in an expose that players from Arsenal, Chelsea and Leicester given performance-enhancing drugs by a London doctor

Swimming, tennis, athletics and many other sports have all come under scrutiny recently for dope related allegations.

Now, add football - the most beautiful game of all - and worse still in, arguably, the top league in the world.

English Premier League footballers were among 150 sports stars prescribed banned performance-enhancing drugs, a London doctor claimed in an expose by The Sunday Times.

The newspaper, which has been at the heart of several doping exposes involving international athletics over the last 12 months, conducted an undercover operation on London-based anti-ageing doctor Mark Bonar.

PHOTOS: AFP, TNP FILE

The 38-year-old medic claims to have had a network of "secret clients" who included footballers from Arsenal, Chelsea and Leicester City.

The broadsheet said Bonar named athletes from several different sports.

But those contacted by the paper either denied being treated by him or declined to comment.

The newspaper was quick to add they have no independent evidence that he treated the unnamed players.

NO EVIDENCE

There is also no evidence the clubs were aware of Bonar's relationship with any players or drug use by them.

Bonar, who was filmed covertly, is heard telling reporters he had also worked with an England cricketer, British Tour de France cyclists, a British boxing champion, tennis players and martial arts competitors.

"In the past six years, he has treated more than 150 sports people from the UK and abroad variously with banned substances such as erythropoietin (EPO), steroids and human growth hormone, and the sports performance improvements were phenomenal," the report said.

In the newspaper's footage, Bonar is filmed saying: "Some of these treatments I used are banned on the professional circuit.

"It's how you do it," he said, adding: "You want to do it off cycle or between races.

"The truth of the matter is drugs are in sport. What I do is prescribe responsibly and I try to keep my patients the optimum level of normal."

UK Anti-Doping (Ukad), the agency responsible for protecting British sport from drug abuse, confirmed they were aware of Bonar, but said they had no power to investigate him.

Ukad said it interviewed a sportsman in April and May 2014 who, in hoping to reduce his sanction, provided them with more than 100 names, 69 of which related to sport.

Bonar was among the names and this was the only time he had been brought to their attention, it said.

The sportsman told Ukad that Bonar prescribed him with EPO and testosterone and alleged he was providing performance-enhancing drugs to an unnamed boxer.

Ukad said they went back to the sportsman, but he did not provide further evidence that could substantiate such claims.

Bonar told the reporters that athletes knew about his services through word of mouth.

"I don't really advertise... I don't want that media scrutiny, that kind of (thing), you know, coming down on you," he said.

"I do not 'dope' or treat patients for the sole purpose of performance enhancement even though these treatments may enhance performance as a secondary effect."

Britain's sports minister John Whittingdale said he was "shocked" by the allegations and has demanded an urgent independent investigation.

- AFP.


"Arsenal Football Club are extremely disappointed by the publication of these false claims which are without foundation. The Sunday Times knows that these allegations are baseless, but has preferred to publish regardless. The club take their responsibilities in this area very seriously and our players are well aware of what is expected."

— An Arsenal spokesman, speaking to the Daily Mail

"The claims The Sunday Times put to us are false and entirely without foundation. Chelsea Football Club have never used the services of Dr Bonar and has no knowledge or record of any of our players having been treated by him or using his services. Chelsea FC players are regularly and rigorously tested by the relevant authorities."

— A Chelsea spokesman, speaking to the Daily Mail

"Leicester City Football Club are extremely disappointed that The Sunday Times has published unsubstantiated allegations referring to players from clubs including Leicester City when, on its own admission, it has insufficient evidence to support the claims."

— A statement from the club

FootballeplLONDON DOCTORdopingUncategorisedarsenalCHELSEA (EPL)Leicester City