After Nick Mutch’s revelation via Byline Media that Culture Secretary John Whittingdale had enjoyed a more than year-long relationship with a known prostitute with connections to London’s criminal underworld, that the press knew about it and yet kept quiet, some might have thought that Whittingdale would lie low for a while. But that thought would have been misplaced, as he has clearly decided it’s business as usual.
As the BBC has reported, “The newspaper says it has secretly filmed the medic claiming that he has prescribed performance-enhancing drugs such as EPO, steroids and human growth hormone to 150 elite sports professionals from the UK and abroad over the past six years, including … several Premier League footballers … an England cricket international … British cyclists [and] tennis players”.
Sadly for the Murdoch doggies, the Beeb also notes “There is no suggestion that any Premier League clubs were aware of any alleged wrongdoing and the Sunday Times says it has no independent evidence Bonar treated the players … Bonar has told the Sunday Times he treated the athletes for medical reasons and not to enhance their performance. There is no suggestion the substances were illegal”.
Whittingdale might have managed without saying anything about the story, but he has decided to tell anyone who will listen that he is carrying on as if nothing has happened, asserting without a hint of irony that “Sports fans are entitled to be sure that what they are watching is true and fair with all athletes competing on a level playing field”. Like the total transparency of the press when it comes to MPs’ dalliances, then. Or maybe not.
He went on “I have asked for there to be an urgent independent investigation into what action was taken when these allegations were first received and what more needs to be done to ensure that British sport remains clean”. If only he was as keen to see the press behave in such a clean, fair and transparent manner - but he has blocked the implementation of laws which would encourage them to do just that.
And on he went: “There is no room for complacency in the fight against doping and the government is already looking at whether existing legislation in this area goes far enough. If it becomes clear that stronger criminal sanctions are needed then we will not hesitate to act”. Yes, Whittingdale will act against those who cheat - so long as they are not the larger part of the Fourth Estate whose silence has helped him remain in office.
What this episode shows is that John Whittingdale is the dope who is rapidly running out of rope. Exactly how rapidly will become a lot clearer very soon - stay tuned.