UK Anti-Doping has announced former athletics coach Dr George Skafidas has been given lifetime ban from all sport following nine anti-doping violations.
Skafidas, who was previously working as a UK Athletics licensed coach, was suspended for the offences related to his conduct with British international sprinter Bernice Wilson. Previously, UK Athletics had remarked in a statement that Wilson competed for Great Britain at the European Indoor Championships in Paris in March 2011 had drunk a contaminated drink given to her by Skafidas. In 2013, Skafidas was banned from holding a UKA coach license for five years.
Bernice was the top-ranked sprinter in the country over 60 meters in 2010. She tested positive for Testosterone and other prohibited substances in June 2011 and was suspended for a period of four years. Bernice, while still banned in February 2015, failed an out-of-competition test for Clomiphene (Clomid), a fertility drug. Wilson provided substantial assistance to UK Anti-Doping and her prompt admission of guilt saw her second suspension reduced from 40 to 10 months and she has been eligible to compete since December.
Skafidas was found to have knowingly provided false information at the hearing of Wilson in 2011. The coach was also found guilty of possessing, trafficking, and administering banned substances to an athlete. Skafidas was also found guilty of removing a letter addressed to Wilson in the course of anti-doping proceedings and even provided a false account in an interview with UKAD representatives. Skafidas admitted to administration, possession, and trafficking of Testosterone, Stanozolol, Clenbuterol, and Ephedrine and the coach was also found guilty of administration and possession of Clomiphene and Stanozolol by an Athlete Support Person.
UKAD Chief Executive, Nicole Sapstead said this case is not only incredibly disturbing but sad. Sapstead remarked here is a coach who set-up and ran a training group for young and talented athletes and athletes like Bernice who had a bright and promising future in the sport. The UKAD Chief Executive added he was put into a position of trust and said Skafidas abused that trust and as a result categorically destroyed a career. Sapstead also commented that Skafidas had a personal relationship with the athlete and she was clearly under his influence and yet despite this relationship and instead of protecting and nurturing her career, he took calculated and deceptive steps that not only destroyed it but that also put her life in danger.
The Chief Executive of UKAD added athlete support personnel have a huge responsibility to guide their athletes onto the right path of competing clean and also remarked yet here is a coach who blatantly chose the wrong path and therefore it is absolutely right that Dr Skafidas receive a lifetime ban. Sapstead said he and others like him and they have absolutely no place in sport. Sapstead, who was appointed to the role of Chief Executive Officer of UK Anti-Doping in February 2015, said she applauds the bravery of Bernice Wilson for coming forward to speak to us. The CEO of UKAD said she would encourage anyone with information, no matter how big or small, to come forward and tell us what they know in confidence.