Bradley Wiggins 'crossed an ethical line' in use of medicines, says UK committee

Those who administer or supply doping products to athletes should be pursued by the law as criminals, the UK Government's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee has recommended.

Having spent two and a half years investigating allegations of doping in athletics and cycling, the DCMS committee published a highly critical report today.

It accused Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford and British cyclist Bradley Wiggins of "crossing an ethical line" by using powerful medicine to boost performance in their use of the powerful corticosteroid triamcinolone to prepare for races, including Wiggins' historic 2012 Tour de France win.

The report also contains the allegation that Team Sky used drugs "to enhance the performance of riders, and not just to treat medical need". Wiggins and Team Sky have repeatedly denied wrong-doing.

It also accused world athletics boss Seb Coe of misleading parliament in his answers on what he knew about his sport's problems.

But the report also made a series of suggestions to improve sport's fight against drugs cheats.

Speaking to Press Association Sport, DCMS committee chairman Damian Collins said: "Our key recommendation is the power to create a legal framework to really go after those who supply doping products to athletes.

"It would add more rigour to the system. There would be more responsibility on the part of doctors and teams to keep proper medical records, and there would be more surveillance of that.

"Take Sir Dave Brailsford's evidence to us. When asked if riders other than Sir Bradley Wiggins could have been given (the corticosteroid) triamcinolone, he said not to his knowledge. So he was not across what was going on in the team.

"Criminalising the suppliers would also help UK Anti-Doping in terms of the investigatory firepower it could call upon. We think it would help everybody."

The committee had considered calling for doping, as a whole, to be criminalised, as has happened in countries such as France and Italy.

But the report said: "We do not think it would be effective to subject doping athletes to criminal procedures and penalties.

"Longer bans on competing are likely to be more of a disincentive to them, and will avoid placing an extra burden on law enforcement bodies such as the police and courts."

As well as going after the enablers and suppliers, the committee advocates increasing the maximum ban for first-time offenders from four years to five so they would miss two Olympic or Paralympic Games.

It also believes UKAD and the other anti-doping authorities are hugely under-resourced - a point they would not dispute.

The government department that the committee holds to account increased its annual grant to UKAD by £3million in January but the report suggests the bill for a fit-for-purpose system should really be footed by sport.

"It is important that both the World Anti-Doping Agency and UKAD are adequately funded to deal with the huge problem of doping in sport," the report said.

"These important anti-doping bodies cannot fulfil their mandate with insufficient funding. An obvious solution is that sports that benefit from their activities - and particularly wealthier sports - should contribute more.

"We are attracted by the idea of sports contributing a fixed percentage of their income - from sponsorship or overall - to give the anti-doping bodies some security in planning their programmes and expanding their resources."

In a statement responding to the report, UKAD chief executive Nicole Sapstead said her agency was "delighted" when DCMS upped its grant but agrees with the committee that this "does not preclude wealthy sports from providing more funding".

Sapstead also welcomed the report's call for more powers and said she is speaking to the government about gaining "unfettered access" to all sports events and venues so anti-doping officers can do more unannounced testing.

Shadow sports minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan issued a statement echoing these calls and said "it is imperative" that UKAD has the "adequate resources and investigatory powers to carry out its core duties".

- PA

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