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 expired in March 2021 and therefore UKAD wished to finalise its arrangements in respect of the next iteration of this contract.
In terms of the scope of the new contract, this is made up of an initial duration of 3 years, followed by the option to renew the contract for a further three one-year extensions. In terms of contract value, UKAD estimated that this will be approximately GBP 2 000 000 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 had undertaken an open competition, candidates would have been 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) would have in place a current WADA accreditation at contract award. UKAD understood that securing accreditation can be prohibitively expensive when compared against the contract value and further, that the process can take as long as 2 years to complete. This would not have left sufficient time for a non-accredited supplier to mobilise between contract award and commencement of the services; and
(ii) such laboratory would have needed to be located in the UK to ensure that tests could 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 was that no other entity, other than DCC, could fulfil the contract requirements. To that end, UKAD utilised 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. UKAD also published a Voluntary ex ante transparency notice in the Official Journal of the European Union under the same reference. As a result of those exercises, UKAD was confident it had established that only DCC could fulfil the contract requirements.
UKAD set out its further analysis in the notices, so that readers had a fuller understanding of why UKAD believed that the circumstances justified use of the negotiated procedure without prior publication of a contract notice.