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 performance, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service ruled on Friday.
More than two years after the tribunal in the case against Richard Freeman opened, 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, 61, had previously admitted to 18 of the 22 charges against him including purchasing banned testosterone, lying to UKAD and keeping haphazard records.
However, he had denied the central charge of “knowing or believing” it was to be given to an unnamed rider.
Initially he falsely claimed the Testogel had been ordered in error and returned, without providing evidence. While giving evidence in November 2019 he then claimed he had been bullied into ordering it 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 sought to cover his tracks.
In its written reasoning, the tribunal stated that Freeman had in May 2011 ordered a doping ‘drug of choice’ for cycling.
“Upon its arrival he was dishonest about why it had been sent, removed it from the Velodrome, and it was never seen again,” it said. “The Tribunal found that Dr Freeman has been dishonest in its regard ever since.” MPTS chair Neil Dalton said: “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 hearing continues on March 17 when the tribunal will consider if the doctor’s “fitness to practise is impaired”.
In response to the verdict, UKAD Chief Executive Nicole Sapstead said Freeman faces two charges under the UK Anti-Doping Rules - possession of prohibited substances and/or prohibited methods, and tampering or attempted tampering with any part of Doping Control - and was provisionally suspended from all sport.
Sutton, who left British Cycling in 2016 after claims of sexism and discriminatory comments, issued a statement in response to the verdict.