Doping allegations doctor 'boasted of treating elite athletes'

A UK doctor prescribed banned performance-enhancing drugs and claimed to have given similar treatments to other elite sports athletes, medical watchdogs heard.

Dr Mark Bonar was secretly filmed in a sting operation by undercover journalists from The Sunday Times, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) heard.

He prescribed steroids and other drugs to a young athlete employed by the newspaper who went to him wanting to improve his performance.

Dr Bonar said he provided similar treatment programmes to a number of elite sportsmen.

And Dr Bonar, who operated from a clinic in central London, also claimed to have proscribed banned drugs programmes to other elite athletes and gave advice on how to avoid detection as drugs cheats, it is alleged.

The medic, who qualified from the National University of Ireland in July 2001, is not attending, or represented by lawyers, at the MPTS hearing in Manchester, where he is accused of misconduct.

The tribunal heard he told the MPTS he is no longer practising as a doctor, now lives abroad and has no intention of returning to the UK.

He claims his words have been "misunderstood" and his boasts to have supplied other athletes were not true, but him exaggerating to "oversell" his practice.

The tribunal heard the sting operation began after The Sunday Times was contacted by a whistle blower who had reported Dr Bonar to UK Anti-Doping (UKAD), but they failed to take any action.

The paper employed a young athlete, posing as a sportsman wanting to improve his performance, and sent for an initial consultation with Dr Bonar, on October 22, 2015.

Wearing a hidden camera at the first meeting, Dr Bonar advised he could improve athletic performance by taking testosterone supplements, human growth hormone supplements and Erythropoietin (EPO).

Natasha Tahta, counsel for the General Medical Council (GMC), told the hearing: "He went on to explain he had prescribed them to other athletes and you could take them off-season to avoid detection."

The medic took a blood sample and said he would prescribe the relevant drugs at the next meeting.

At that meeting, on November 3, 2015, Dr Bonar is alleged to have prescribed a treatment programme of Nebido, a testosterone supplement, Thyroxine and Genotropin, a growth hormone, to be taken once daily by injection;

Dr Bonar also wanted to give the athlete an injection.

In fact the athlete made the excuse he had a race coming up and would be tested afterwards, so the doctor agreed they should "play it safe for now".

Expert analysis of the blood sample showed there was no medical need for any of the prescribed drugs - other than to improve athletic performance.

A third meeting at a dinner, another journalist posed as the athlete's uncle and another as a sports agent interested in agreeing a deal for Dr Bonar to be paid a retainer for his services, it is alleged.

At the meeting, Dr Bonar confirmed the blood tests showed no medical issues and advised steroids were to be taken up to four weeks before Olympic trials to avoid detection.

Ms Tahta continued: "Dr Bonar said he provided similar treatment programmes to a number of elite sportsmen. He said he could improve it (his performance) significantly by EPO."

Dr Bonar advised to avoid detection by athletic drug testing bodies, the testosterone should be taken between races and up to four to six weeks before Olympic trials - and had provided a similar treatment programme to a number of other "elite" athletes in various sports to improve their athletic performance.

The Government ordered an independent inquiry about how the allegations were handled by UKAD following The Sunday Times investigation.

The tribunal has now adjourned to watch the undercover footage involving Dr Bonar and is expected to reconvene tomorrow morning.

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