WADA issues report from investigation into allegations regarding British Cycling and United Kingdom Anti-Doping

The World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA’s) independent Intelligence and Investigations (I&I) Department has published its summary report following an investigation into allegations that in 2011, United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) allowed British Cycling to analyze samples from athletes in private, using a non-WADA accredited laboratory, for the purposes of screening for a prohibited substance.

WADA I&I’s investigation, known as ‘Operation Echo’, was launched in March 2021 following media reports of alleged wrongdoing in British Cycling and UKAD.

‘Operation Echo’ confirmed that in February 2011, as part of a study into potential contamination of supplements, British Cycling collected samples from elite riders and screened these samples for the androgen and anabolic steroid, nandrolone. 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, analyzed by a non-WADA-accredited laboratory, and provided by the athletes on the basis that UKAD would never know the results.

‘Operation Echo’ also established that at least one UKAD employee was aware of the study and that the samples could be collected and analyzed 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 I&I Director, Gunter Younger, said: “‘Operation Echo’ confirmed potential wrongdoing by individuals in both British Cycling and UKAD at that time. Following this investigation, a copy of our report was provided to the WADA Compliance, Rules and Standards Department for its consideration. In addition, the summary report was provided to the Union Cycliste Internationale – the governing body under which British Cycling operates – and to the United Kingdom Department of Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport for their attention.

“‘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. It is important to acknowledge that WADA I&I received the full cooperation and transparency of British Cycling and UKAD throughout our investigation.

‘Operation Echo’ also investigated two further allegations, that UKAD had released individual athletes’ Athlete Biological Passport data to British Cycling in 2016; and that UKAD had allowed two athletes (not from the sport of cycling), who were advancing a contaminated supplements defence following Adverse Analytical Findings, to privately test the products in question, and that UKAD had accepted the results of the resultant analysis at the subsequent anti-doping hearing. ‘Operation Echo’ found no evidence to uphold these allegations.

Note: The names of those involved in the investigation have been withheld from the summary report in order to protect their privacy rights, in accordance with the terms of the International Standard for the Protection of Privacy and Personal Information.