A government inquiry into the UK Anti-Doping Agency (UKAD) has been ordered regarding the handling of an investigation into alleged doping activities by a British doctor, who is claimed to have said he prescribed performance-enhancing drugs to 150 sportspeople, including Premier League footballers.
The Sunday Times has said that London-based doctor Mark Bonar was secretly filmed stating that footballers, cyclists and tennis players were among athletes he had treated with banned substances.
There is no suggestion that any Premier League clubs were aware of any alleged wrongdoing, while the newspaper acknowledged it had no independent evidence of Bonar treating the players.
The British government has called for an urgent inquiry into the actions of UKAD, who commenced an investigation into the doctor in 2014 but found "there was nothing to indicate that Dr Bonar was governed by a sport".
In a statement quoted by the BBC, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary John Whittingdale said: "I am shocked and deeply concerned by these allegations.
"I have asked for there to be an urgent independent investigation into what action was taken when these allegations were first received and what more needs to be done to ensure that British sport remains clean.
"There is no room for complacency in the fight against doping and the government is already looking at whether existing legislation in this area goes far enough. If it becomes clear that stronger criminal sanctions are needed then we will not hesitate to act."
A statement from UKAD confirmed an independent review would be conducted into the issues raised by the Sunday Times' investigation.
UKAD chief executive Nicole Sapstead said: "In relation to this specific case, UKAD commenced an investigation into Dr Bonar following interviews with a sportsperson in April and May 2014.
"Following these interviews and in investigation, UKAD found that there was nothing to indicate that Dr Bonar was governed by a sport and UKAD had no other intelligence to corroborate the sportsman's allegations.
"As a result, UKAD recommended to the sportsperson that more information was needed and as Dr Bonar fell outside of UKAD's jurisdiction, that information could be passed, if appropriate, to the General Medical Council, which does have the powers to investigate possible medical malpractice and pursue if necessary.
"UKAD encouraged the sportsperson to obtain evidence, to go through his files to see if he had any useful documents, to recall names, to keep in touch with investigators - anything which may be deemed as helpful to the investigation and could help to corroborate what had been said in his interviews.
"UKAD received handwritten prescriptions from the sportsperson in October 2014. The sportsperson claimed to have been issued these prescriptions by Dr Bonar and UKAD consulted an independent medical expert to examine the prescriptions. After assessing all the evidence, as per the National Intelligence Model, UKAD did not believe that there were grounds, at that point, to refer the case to the GMC.
"We would strongly encourage anyone to talk to us in confidence if they have any reason to believe that doping is taking place. We have asked the Insight team at the Sunday Times to share information it has uncovered, so we can investigate any possible anti-doping rule violations."