Sunday Telegraph: Calls to scrap 10-year doping prosecutions limit

Sunday Telegraph: Calls to scrap 10-year doping prosecutions limit

Article by Ben Rumsby and Tom Cary for the Sunday Telegraph - published 14 March 2021

Anti-doping chiefs are facing a race against time to unmask the rider for whom banned drugs were ordered before the 2012 Olympics amid fears they have only two months left to do so.

Leading MPs called for the 10-year statute of limitations on such offences to be scrapped following the verdict that British Cycling's former team doctor had placed that order in May 2011 "knowing or believing it was to be administered to an athlete to improve their athletic performance".

As the fallout continued from arguably British sport's worst drugs scandal, Graham Arthur, former director of legal for UK Anti-Doping, said a cut-off point for prosecuting dopers "allows people who have cheated to ... get away with it and keep the rewards of their cheating".

Pressure is mounting on Ukad to act quickly to unearth anyone who may have broken the rules after former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Richard

Freeman was ruled to have done so by a medical tribunal on Friday. Freeman, who was last night considering whether to appeal, also faced calls to reveal who the drugs were intended for.

In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Shane Sutton, the man Freeman was found to have falsely accused of ordering them for to treat an erectile problem, also said it was "now time to tell the truth".

Failure to find the intended recipient before the middle of May could mean they escape justice under rules that prohibit the prosecution of doping offences that date back more than a decade.

Damian Collins, the former chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee who led a parliamentary inquiry into various drugs scandals, told The Telegraph: "The 10-year rule is not fit for purpose because I think it's important to know which rider was the intended recipient of the testosterone patches. We don't know, of course, if that was a one-off or part of a pattern of behaviour. It's possible that rider ... could still be involved in the sport. Someone who cheated as an athlete might also try to cheat as a coach."

Clive Efford, a former shadow sports minister who now sits on the DCMS select committee, added: "The limitation falls into disrepute if we reach that situation where somebody was still competing and getting away with it because they failed to catch them within the 10-year period."

He urged Ukad to continue its hunt for the truth even if a prosecution proved impossible. He and Collins also said a decision on what sanction Freeman will face from the medical authorities - which could include losing his doctor's licence - should consider if he now cooperates with Ukad, which has charged him with possession and tampering offences. "He's still involved in some sort of cover-up and not every thing has come out," Efford said. "It's just not credible that this doctor was a maverick working on his own, is it?"

Sutton, the former British Cycling head coach whose testimony helped convict Freeman, said the medic had been acting alone and that he was "convinced" the testosterone had not been ordered for a cyclist.

"Maybe the doctor was working outside cycling - I don't know - but all the athletes that I've worked with in the track programme in my time, I vouch for all of them," he said.

Copyright 2019 Damian Collins. All rights reserved

Promoted by Russell Tillson for and on behalf of Damian Collins, both of Folkestone & Hythe Conservative Association both at 4 West Cliff Gardens, Folkestone, Kent CT20 1SP

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