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Former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor ordered banned substance, tribunal finds

Written by on 12/03/2021

Former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman ordered a banned substance “knowing or believing” it was to be given to an unnamed rider, a tribunal has ruled.

The finding comes after a hearing of more than two years before the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, which was looking into the doctor’s fitness to practise.

Dr Freeman had admitted 18 of the 22 charges against him relating to the ordering of Testogel to British Cycling headquarters in 2011 but denied the central charge regarding its purpose.

The rider who was the intended recipient of the substance has not been named.

Sky’s sports correspondent Martha Kelner said: “It’s a bombshell finding in many ways.

“Richard Freeman was in his role at British Cycling and what was Team Sky when Bradley Wiggins became Britain’s first Tour de France champion in 2012, a time when British cycling soared to the top of the cycling world.

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“This was one of the greatest teams in British sporting history and now they have this huge stain over their successes.

“This hearing has lasted over two years and now we have something approaching a conclusion and it’s not the conclusion British Cycling or what was Team Sky would have wanted.”

Dr Freeman had claimed the testosterone was to treat former performance director Shane Sutton’s erectile dysfunction, which the Australian denied during testimony given in 2019.

The tribunal also determined it had been proved that the motive for Dr Freeman’s actions was to conceal his conduct.

He had admitted destroying a laptop with “a screwdriver or blunt instrument” before giving it to forensic experts conducting a doping investigation.

The one charge that was found to be not proved was that Dr Freeman knew the Testogel was not clinically indicated for Mr Sutton.

The tribunal’s ruling said: “Reflecting upon the totality of the evidence, the tribunal has determined that 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.

“Bearing in mind the breadth of Dr Freeman’s dishonesty… the tribunal found his conduct incapable of innocent explanation.”

Mr Sutton added that he is “saddened by the whole affair”.

“I feel for the doctor; that he ever got into this situation, and I remain disappointed that I was used as a scapegoat. It has caused great pain to both me and my family.

“But it also saddens me that this episode has cast a huge shadow over the success we enjoyed, both at Team Sky and British Cycling.

“I’d like to stress that neither I nor Sir Dave Brailsford knew about the testosterone order. But I think it’s important to find out who the doctor ordered it for. Hopefully that will emerge from the investigation by UK Anti-Doping.”

The tribunal will decide next week what sanctions Dr Freeman will face and whether he will be deemed unfit to practise medicine.

Dr Freeman was suspended by British Cycling in 2017 and resigned after saying he was too ill to face disciplinary action for poor medical record-keeping.

Dr Freeman also faces two UK anti-doping charges relating to the ordering of the testosterone, several of which relate to an interview he gave the organisation in the same year, where he subsequently admitted he had lied.

 Sky News

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