UK Sport un­der fire over se­cret en­ergy drink for Lon­don 2012

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport -

Tom Mor­gan

UK Sport is fac­ing claims it failed in its duty of care to ath­letes com­pet­ing at Lon­don 2012 af­ter ask­ing them to sign waivers over a se­cre­tive performanc­e-boost­ing drink that had yet to be ap­proved by the World Anti-Dop­ing Agency.

A to­tal of 91 com­peti­tors from cy­cling and seven other sports signed agree­ments to stay quiet about their early use of a syn­thetic ver­sion of a nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring body acid called ke­tones. Its use is more wide­spread in sport now to im­prove en­durance, but at the time UK Sport per­se­vered with tri­als deBy spite Wada mak­ing no guar­an­tees that it would not be banned.

The sup­ple­ment, orig­i­nally de­vel­oped by Ox­ford Uni­ver­sity sci­en­tists with fund­ing from Amer­i­can mil­i­tary chiefs to help make spe­cial forces more re­silient be­hind en­emy lines with fewer ra­tions, was fed to Bri­tish medal hope­fuls early in 2012. Ac­cord­ing to some as­so­ci­ated with the trial, ath­letes found the sub­stance “un­palat­able” and gave up on its use dur­ing com­pe­ti­tion.

UK Sport has de­nied any wrong­do­ing, but Rob Koehler, direc­tor gen­eral of the Global Ath­lete move­ment, said an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion was needed to es­tab­lish if ath­letes had been put at risk. “Sport­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions have a duty of care to­wards ath­letes,” he said. “If these al­le­ga­tions are true, UK Sport has se­verely breached that duty of care.”

Se­cre­tive use of the DeltaG en­ergy drink ahead of the Lon­don Olympics was first dis­closed yes­ter­day fol­low­ing free­dom of informatio­n re­quests by the Mail on Sun­day, which re­vealed UK Sport had spent hun­dreds of thou­sands of pounds of pub­lic money on the project.

UK Sport pro­duced a “par­tic­i­pant informatio­n sheet” with the project ap­pli­ca­tion. It read: “UK Sport does not guar­an­tee, prom­ise, as­sure or rep­re­sent that use of ke­tone esters is ab­so­lutely World Anti-Dop­ing Code com­pli­ant and there­fore ex­cludes all re­spon­si­bil­ity for use of the ke­tone es­ter.”

The doc­u­ment also said “ke­to­sis is a tem­po­rary phys­i­o­log­i­cal state and would be dif­fi­cult to prove or test with any post-event sam­ples”.

Ac­cord­ing to the Mail on Sun­day, UK Sport ap­proached Wada and UK Anti-Dop­ing be­fore pro­ceed­ing and was told ke­tones were not cur­rently banned. A ver­sion of the prod­uct has since been ap­proved by Wada.

It has long been known that ke­tones were be­ing tested by UK Sport row­ers and cy­clists al­though it was never known in what quan­tity or for what aim.

A UK Sport spokesper­son said: “The Ke­tone Es­ter project re­ceived in­de­pen­dent eth­i­cal ap­proval from the Re­search Ad­vi­sory Group in Jan­uary 2012. Ad­di­tion­ally, UK Anti-Dop­ing con­firmed in writ­ing, af­ter seek­ing clar­i­fi­ca­tion from the World Anti-Dop­ing Agency, that Wada had ‘no rea­son to con­sider such sub­stances as banned un­der the 2011 List of Pro­hib­ited Sub­stances and Meth­ods’. Ath­letes are not put un­der pres­sure from UK Sport to take part in any re­search project or to pro­vide their con­sent, and may with­draw at any time.”

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