LONDON: The former chief doctor for Team Sky and British Cycling was found guilty of ordering testosterone “knowing or believing it to be for an athlete to improve their athletic performance”, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service ruled on Friday.
More than two years after the tribunal in the case against Richard Freeman (pix) had begun, the MPTS delivered a damning verdict on the conduct of the doctor who worked for Team Sky and British Cycling during a golden period of success between 2009 and 2017.
Freeman was charged with ordering 30 sachets of Testogel to the national velodrome in Manchester for an unnamed athlete in 2011 and admitted to destroying a laptop with “a screwdriver or blunt instrument” before passing it on to forensic experts conducting a UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) investigation.
Freeman had previously admitted to 18 of the 22 charges against him including purchasing banned testosterone, lying to the UKAD and keeping haphazard records.
However, after initially saying the Testogel had been ordered in error, he then stated he was bullied into ordering the banned substance by former head coach Shane Sutton who wanted it to treat erectile dysfunction, a claim Sutton had denied and which the tribunal found to be an “elaborate falsehood” as Freeman sort to cover his tracks.
“The tribunal had found that you, Dr Freeman, placed the order, and obtained the Testogel, knowing or believing it was to be administered to an athlete to improve their athletic performance. The motive for your action was to conceal a conduct,” the chair of the MPTS, Neil Dalton, said.
Freeman’s hearing will continue on March 17 when the tribunal will consider if the doctor’s “fitness to practise is impaired”.
The protracted case against Freeman began November 2019 but was continually adjourned on medical grounds, with his lawyer Mary O’Rourke saying he was too unwell to attend.
It resumed last October but was adjourned again in November.
Freeman has been at the centre of several controversies surrounding Team Sky, now known as Ineos Grenadiers.
UKAD conducted a 14-month investigation into the delivery of a “mystery package” to former rider Bradley Wiggins at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine which Freeman says was a legal decongestant despite allegations it was the anti-inflammatory drug triamcinolone.
Wiggins was granted therapeutic use exemption to take triamcinolone shortly before his 2012 Tour win – the first of seven Tour de France wins for the British team in eight years, including four for Chris Froome.
In 2018 Froome was provisionally banned after being found to have double the permitted limit of the asthma medication Salbutamol in his system at the 2017 Vuelta de Espana, although he was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing.
In 2018 a British parliamentary committee report accused Team Sky of crossing an “ethical line” by using permitted medication to enhance the performance of riders.
Wiggins, British Cycling, Froome and Team Sky have always denied wrongdoing.
Team Sky was formed by Dave Brailsford in 2010 with a mission to win clean. – Reuters