UK Anti-Doping failed to interview its former leadership team during an investigation into “potential wrongdoing by individuals in both British Cycling and Ukad” in the build-up to the 2012 Olympics, Telegraph Sport can reveal.
The World Anti-Doping Agency on Tuesday heavily criticised a Ukad-led probe – codenamed Operation Blackout – into allegations the national anti-doping organisation and British Cycling had concealed the use of banned drugs.
That followed a Wada investigation – codenamed Operation Echo – into the same claims, which found Ukad had failed to search laptops for “relevant emails” cited in a pair of anonymous letters that triggered the latter’s 2018 inquiry.
The Telegraph can disclose Ukad also did not interview Andy Parkinson, its founding chief executive who left in 2014, or Graham Arthur, its founding legal director who left in 2017, during its investigation.
It can be revealed that Wada did speak to both men during its own inquiry, which was launched in March, but they were unable to recall, a decade on, the exact events under investigation.
Ukad’s failure to contact Parkinson and Arthur – the latter of whom, emails suggest, was central to those events – was criticised on Wednesday night by former staff at the agency.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, one acknowledged it had been “a terrible mistake”, while another said: “The absence of any contact with senior executive people who were in the organisation at the time is odd. I can’t think of a good reason not to do that.”
Ukad declined to comment after announcing it was “commissioning an independent external review of its 2018 Operation Blackout”.
Nicole Sapstead, who succeeded Parkinson as chief executive and left earlier this year to join the International Tennis Integrity Agency, declined to respond to questions from The Telegraph.
The Wada probe found no evidence that anyone at Ukad concealed doping and there is no suggestion anyone to have worked there has ever done so.
The letters Ukad received in 2018 claimed it had allowed British Cycling to collect samples from elite riders and screen them for the androgen and anabolic steroid, nandrolone.
In a statement released on Tuesday night, Wada said that Operation Echo had established wrongdoing. “Contrary to the rules laid down by the World Anti-Doping Code and the relevant International Standard, the samples were collected by British Cycling staff rather than doping control officers, analysed by a non-Wada-accredited laboratory, and provided by the athletes on the basis that Ukad would never know the results,” it wrote. “‘Operation Echo’ also established that at least one Ukad employee was aware of the study and that the samples could be collected and analysed at a non-Wada-accredited laboratory.
“To this day, Ukad has no record of ever receiving the analysis results and emails that would have showed Ukad’s real-time knowledge of key events.”
Wada said it was “concerned by the failure” of Operation Blackout to search British Cycling laptops for “relevant emails” after the letters claimed the devices held evidence. “Had Operation Blackout conducted this search, it would have discovered the same emails found by Operation Echo in 2021.”
Despite the findings, neither Ukad nor British Cycling face any punishment.
Wada I&I Director, Gunter Younger, said: “‘Operation Echo’ makes no corrective recommendations as those involved in the events of 2011 are no longer employed by Ukad, and Ukad has already put safeguards in place to avoid a repeat occurrence.”
Younger added: “It is important to acknowledge that Wada I&I received the full cooperation and transparency of British Cycling and Ukad throughout our investigation.”
In a statement, Ukad said it welcomed the investigation’s findings, adding that “these matters would not take place today”.
“The report from Wada makes clear the results of the testing carried out by British Cycling were all negative and notes the negative results from Ukad’s own extensive testing of British Cycling athletes at that time,” Ukad said.
British Cycling, meanwhile, said Wada’s findings clearly “attached no fault” to the organisation or the unnamed riders involved in the study.
It further stressed that it only conducted the testing “having sought and received the express approval” of Arthur.
“We now look forward to assisting Ukad where we can in the audit of their decision-making processes planned by their interim chief executive Emily Robinson,” British Cycling said in a statement, which stressed that over the last five years the organisation had made “many sector-leading and transformative changes to our own processes”.