UKAD is an active participant in the global fight against doping in sport and is the national body responsible for creating a UK-wide environment of confidence in clean sport. In the UK, UKAD ensures that sports bodies comply with the World Anti-Doping Code through implementation and management of the UK’s National Anti-Doping Policy.
A significant part of ensuring such compliance is the implementation of a robust testing regime. Since 2009, UKAD has outsourced its blood and urine testing requirements in respect of professional athletes to the King’s College London Drug Control Centre (DCC), the only laboratory in the UK which holds a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accreditation. This arrangement is due to expire in March 2021 and therefore UKAD wishes to finalise its arrangements in respect of the next iteration of this contract.
In terms of the scope of the new contract, it is envisaged that this will be made up of an initial duration of 3 years, followed by the option to renew the contract for a further three 1-year extensions. In terms of contract value, UKAD estimates that this will be approximately GBP 2 million per year.
In light of the fact that:
(i) A laboratory utilised to perform such testing must hold a WADA accreditation (as stipulated by WADA). In the event that UKAD did undertake an open competition, candidates would be required to self-certify that if identified as the successful bidder, the laboratory from which the services would be performed (a laboratory which must be based within the UK as explained below) will have in place a current WADA accreditation at contract award. UKAD understands that securing accreditation could be prohibitively expensive when compared against the contract value and further, that the process could take as long as 2 years to complete. This would not leave sufficient time for a non-accredited supplier to mobilise between contract award and commencement of the services.
(ii) Such laboratory needs to be located in the UK to ensure that tests can be transported quickly from the site at which the sample is taken from the athlete to the laboratory (to avoid degradation of the sample), UKAD’s view is that no other entity, other than DCC, could fulfil the contract requirements. To that end, UKAD intends to utilise the negotiated procedure without prior publication of a contract notice to agree arrangements with DCC for the next iteration of the contract, in accordance with regulation 32(2)(b)(ii) of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (PCRs) (i.e. competition is absent for technical reasons).
For reference, prior to commencing the procedure described above, UKAD published a prior information notice in the Official Journal of the European Union (reference: 2020/S 247-615593) to establish whether any alternative/viable suppliers exist. As a result of that exercise, UKAD is confident it has established that only DCC can fulfil the contract requirements.
UKAD has set out its further analysis below, so that readers have a fuller understanding of why UKAD believes that the circumstances justify use of the negotiated procedure without prior publication of a contract notice.