Providing substantial assistance in doping investigations: The Bernice Wilson case

On 22 February 2016, the National Anti-Doping Panel (“NADP”) banned Dr Georgios Skafidas for life for the offences of administration and trafficking, pursuant to the UK Athletics Anti-Doping Rules.

UK Anti-Doping (“UKAD”) were assisted in their case against Dr Skafidas by one of the athletes he coached, Ms Bernice Wilson. She had been a victim of his administration of many prohibited substances, namely testosterone, clenbuterol, stanozolol, ephedrine and clomiphene.

While Ms Wilson gave evidence against Dr Skafidas, UKAD also charged her with her own anti-doping rule violation (ADRV). While she initially stated that the ADRV must have been due to a contaminated supplement, on advice from members of the sports team at Mills & Reeve (who took Ms Wilson’s case on pro bono), she admitted that Dr Skafides had given her the tablets that contained clomiphene without her knowledge.

While Ms Wilson was sanctioned with a suspension, as she had provided UKAD with Substantial Assistance, there was then the possibility of a partial or total reduction of the period of ineligibility – which was ultimately applied.

Mark Hovell wrote an article for Law in Sport reviewing Ms Wilson’s case, which serves as a useful case study for the mitigating effects assisting in another investigation can have on an athlete's own sanction for an ADRV. See full article here.

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