Athletes, heads of state and dignitaries from around the world have gathered in the Olympic Stadium for the closing ceremony of the 30th Olympiad.
Athletes, heads of state and dignitaries from around the world have gathered in the Olympic Stadium for the closing ceremony of the 30th Olympiad. Getty Images

Olympics drugs scandal: Brits used as guinea pigs

An explosive report into Britain's improved performance at the 2012 London Olympics claims the host nation's athletes were used as guinea pigs for a 'wonder drug' that enhances performance but isn't banned by anti-doping authorities.

According to the investigation by Britain's Daily Mail, 91 elite British athletes across eight different sports agreed to take part in a secret project organised by UK Sport.

None of the athletes were identified with the newspaper citing documents from UK Sport requiring all participants to sign nondisclosure agreements banning them from ever talking about the program.

UK Sport also prepared waivers freeing itself of any blame if athletes subsequently tested positive or suffered side-effects from ingesting the substance.

Described as 'research', athletes were given an energy-boosting drink branded DeltaG that was specially developed for US Special Forces operating behind enemy lines.

The drink included a synthetic version of a naturally occurring body acid called ketones, which is not currently banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

UK Sport approached WADA and UK Anti-Doping before proceeding with the project and was told that while ketones was not a banned substance at the time, WADA reserved its right to review its status.

In an information sheet sent to athletes, UK Sport warned athletes they could be subjected to future testing and were on their own if they returned a positive sample.

"This may occur if there were pressure of the media if the concept was to leak. However … ketosis is a temporary physiological state and would be difficult to prove or test with any post-event samples," according to the informations sheet.

The Daily Mail said 40 per cent of athletes experienced side-effects including vomiting, which prompted 28 individuals to stop taking the substance. Another 24 quit because they didn't believe it was helping improve performance.

While UK Sport did not break any rules, officials were worried their boundary-pushing attempts to win may cast aspersions on Britain's performance at the London Olympics after the hosts collected 29 golds to finish third on the medals table.

The report did not state if any athletes involved in the project won medals at the London Olympics but said UK Sport board members had already prepared a public relations strategy if the news got out during the Games.

"A communication plan will be needed with the media to mitigate any negative perceptions and publicity. The publicity focus will need to be on the quality of the science," the report said.

"If others are aware UK Sport is linked to the project … the risks will be around perceived unfair competitive edge."