Media playback is not supported on this device July 2018: Former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Freeman – We never crossed the line Former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman will face a charge he ordered testosterone to enhance the performance of an athlete at a tribunal next month.Freeman is alleged to…
Former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman will face a charge he ordered testosterone to enhance the performance of an athlete at a tribunal next month.
Freeman is alleged to have lied to “conceal his motive” for the order of 30 sachets of Testogel to the National Cycling Centre in Manchester in 2011.
The use of testosterone by athletes is banned at all times.
Freeman has been charged following a General Medical Council investigation.
His case will be heard at an independent medical practitioners tribunal in Manchester that is scheduled to run from 6 February to 5 March.
The GMC claims Freeman’s motive for ordering testosterone from Fit4Sport Limited in May 2011 was to administer it “to an athlete to improve their athletic performance.”
It is alleged Freeman then made “untrue statements” in denying he made the order and advising it “had been made in error.”
Freeman also faces claims that in October 2011 he contacted Fit4Sport Limited to ask for confirmation the order had been “sent in error, returned and would be destroyed” by the company, despite “knowing that this had not taken place.”
The former British Cycling chief medic is also alleged to have lied to UK Anti-Doping investigators by stating the testosterone had been ordered for a non-athlete member of staff.
In pre-hearing information published by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, a regulatory committee independent from the GMC, it is claimed Freeman’s “motive for his actions, in respect of the untrue statements and communications with Fit4Sport Limited, were to conceal his motive for placing the order.”
Freeman, the doctor who received a mystery medical package for Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2011, is also accused of “inappropriately” providing medical treatment to non-athletes and failing to inform three patients’ GPs of “medication prescribed and reasons for prescribing.”
The GMC also claims that Freeman, who resigned from British Cycling in October 2017 because of ill health “failed to maintain an adequate record management system” and the tribunal will also look into his failure to ensure records on a laptop that was stolen in Greece in 2014 could be retrieved.
Freeman denies any wrongdoing and told BBC Sport in July that he would “clear everything up” over the testosterone delivery after the conclusion of the GMC investigation.
British Cycling said it “continued to support” the GMC’s investigation having “raised concerns relating to Dr Freeman’s fitness to practice.”
“British Cycling suspended Dr Richard Freeman in March 2017 and subsequently initiated an investigation into his conduct as an employee of the federation,” said the governing body in a statement.
“British Cycling requested that Dr Freeman be interviewed as part of the investigation: however, he declined to make himself available for interview, citing grounds of ill health.”
The testosterone delivery to the national velodrome was revealed by The Sunday Times in March 2017.
Dr Steve Peters, the Team Sky psychiatrist and former head of medicine at British Cycling, told the newspaper that Freeman told him the order “had never been placed and so must have been sent in error.”
Peters claimed that Freeman had contacted the supplier and confirmed this and that he subsequently asked Freeman to request written confirmation, which he saw and was therefore satisfied it was “an administrative error”.
BBC sports editor Dan Roan
British Cycling has endured plenty of controversies in recent years, but this has the potential to be the most damaging yet.
UK Anti-Doping will be monitoring next month’s GMC tribunal closely, and depending on the evidence and outcome, could reopen their investigation into British Cycling and Team Sky, which they closed 14 months ago.
But at a time when the future of Team Sky is shrouded in uncertainty after the withdrawal of its principle backer, this case has already cast another shadow over a sport that has delivered so much glory for Britain over the last decade.
The fact that the GMC has seen fit to charge a man who was the sport’s most senior doctor with ordering a banned performance-enhancing drug to dope a rider – and then lying to cover it up – means yet more negative headlines and suspicion in a sport desperately trying to restore faith.
Privately, British Cycling claims it has seen no evidence to support the sensational allegation that a competitor was helped to cheat, but it must now hope that Dr Freeman can prove that the testosterone was intended for a member of staff, and not a rider.
And that he does not reveal anything else that does any more damage to the sport’s credibility.