SIR ROGER BANNISTER, who died on March 3rd, was the epitome of the amateur sportsman. In 1954, at the Iffley Road track in Oxford, he became the first person to run a mile in under four minutes, having spent the morning on duty as a junior doctor in London.

Today’s professional athletes push the boundaries of the possible further than Sir Roger did. But have they also been testing the limits of the rules on drugs? On March 5th a parliamentary committee published a report on doping which found “acute failures in several different organisations in athletics and cycling”. It made uncomfortable reading for some of the biggest names in sport.

Lord Coe, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, is accused of misleading Parliament. He told MPs that he learned of widespread Russian doping in December 2014, though he had received an e-mail about it in August of that year. He says he ignored the e-mail’s detailed attachments.

Sir Mo Farah, who has won four Olympic long-distance running titles, took an unrecorded quantity of L-carnitine, a supplement that is legal only in small doses, before a race in 2014. The injection was given by the chief doctor at UK Athletics, who failed to write down the dose. The parliamentary report mentions that Sir Mo’s former coach, Alberto Salazar, is under investigation by America’s anti-doping agency for illegally using such supplements to enhance athletes’ performances. Sir Mo insists that he has never broken the rules.

The report’s biggest section concerns British Cycling and Team Sky, an affiliated private team, which between them have won 22 Olympic golds and five Tour de France titles in the past decade. It focuses on a mystery substance given at a race in 2011 to Sir Bradley Wiggins, who with eight medals is Britain’s most decorated Olympian. Team Sky claims that this was a legal asthma medicine which the doctor forgot to record. The report presents circumstantial evidence that it may in fact have been triamcinolone, a steroid that may be used to treat asthma only with a “therapeutic-use exemption”, which Sir Bradley did not have. He strongly denies cheating.

A source from Team Sky told MPs that such exemptions were used tactically, “with an ultimate aim of supporting performance”. The report concludes that the team’s behaviour in this respect “crossed the ethical line”. Sir David Brailsford, Team Sky’s boss, denies that exemptions were used without medical need.

It is not the first time cyclists have come under scrutiny. Last year a review of British Cycling uncovered evidence of bullying and a “culture of fear”. Chris Froome, Team Sky’s four-time Tour de France champion, is under investigation for his use of salbutamol, another asthma medication. He, too, denies cheating.

In the four years before the Rio Olympics in 2016, Britain funnelled £274m ($380m) to sports it had identified as ripe for medal-winning. The result was more golds than any country bar America. But the claims that rules were broken or bent have made many wonder if some athletes went too far to get an edge. The MPs noted that, in contrast to the splurge on trying to win medals, only £6m a year is set aside for Britain’s anti-doping agency.

It all feels a long way from the Iffley Road. Sir Roger’s favoured training was a hike through the Scottish mountains. He considered sport “a natural, worthwhile and enjoyable form of human expression”. It would be a shame if those ideals died with him.