A UK doctor who prescribed banned performance-enhancing drugs and claimed to have given similar treatments to other elite sports athletes has been struck off after being found guilty of misconduct.
Dr Mark Bonar was secretly filmed in a sting operation by undercover journalists from The Sunday Times.
He prescribed steroids and other drugs to a young athlete employed by the newspaper who went to him wanting to improve his performance – and said he had provided similar treatment programmes to a number of elite sportsmen.
The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) determined Dr Bonar’s fitness to practice was impaired, following a hearing in Manchester.
It said Dr Bonar was “solely concerned” with the young athlete’s performance when he prescribed drugs, which was in breach of medical guidance.
The use of a growth hormone, Thyroxine, was additionally not advisable in the patient and had put him “at real and serious risk of harm”, the report said.
Dr Bonar was also found to have advised patients on how to avoid detection and in doing so had “failed to act with honesty and integrity”.
The MPTS concluded: “The tribunal determined that, both individually and cumulatively, Dr Bonar’s conduct (which includes dishonesty during the course of a consultation, non-clinically indicated prescribing, contraindicated prescribing, prescribing with the aim of improving a patient’s athletic performance, and advising an athlete on how to actively avoid detection) amount to misconduct that is serious.”
It added: “Dr Bonar has made no admissions at this hearing, has shown no insight into his behaviour, has actively challenged the opinion of an expert endocrinologist (whilst providing no evidence to back up his claims that he was acting within normal accepted practice) and has informed the General Medical Council that he does not intend to engage in remediation.
“Bearing this in mind, the tribunal could not be confident that Dr Bonar would not repeat his misconduct in future.
“Accordingly, it determined that Dr Bonar’s fitness to practise is currently impaired by reason of his misconduct.”
Dr Bonar, who qualified from the National University of Ireland in July 2001, did not attend and was not represented by lawyers at the MPTS hearing.
The tribunal heard he was no longer practising as a doctor, now lives abroad and has no intention of returning to the UK.
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.
On their second meeting, Dr Bonar is said to have prescribed a treatment programme of Nebido, a testosterone supplement, Thyroxine and Genotropin, a growth hormone, to be taken once daily by injection.
Expert analysis of the blood sample showed there was no medical need for any of the prescribed drugs other than to improve athletic performance.
At a third meeting, Dr Bonar advised that to avoid detection by athletic drug testing bodies, testosterone should be taken between races and up to four to six weeks before Olympic trials.
The Government ordered an independent inquiry about how the allegations were handled by UKAD following The Sunday Times investigation.