The former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman will admit to telling a lot of lies and ordering the banned supplement testosterone, an independent medical tribunal has heard
Richard Freeman, the former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor, will admit to telling a lot of lies and supplying banned testosterone to a senior figure in both organisations, an independent medical tribunal heard on Tuesday.
During preliminary discussions held before the case is due to formally open next week, Freemans lawyer, Mary ORourke QC, confirmed for the first time that her client would acknowledge he ordered 30 sachets of Testogel, a product banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, to be sent to the Manchester velodrome used by both teams in May 2011.
However ORourke denied the General Medical Councils charge that Freemans motive was to obtain testosterone to give to an athlete to improve an athletes performance. Instead she claimed Freeman had got the testosterone at the request of Shane Sutton, who at the time was the head coach of Team Sky and British Cycling. In his witness statement, Sutton denied knowledge of the delivery and denied the testosterone was intended for him.
Freeman, who worked for Team Sky and British Cycling between 2009 and 2017 before resigning, is also expected to accept he made false statements and that he failed to keep proper medical records. Some of those were on a laptop containing, among other things, details of the contents of the mystery Jiffy bag delivered from British Cyclings headquarters in Manchester to the Team Sky bus at the 2011 Critrium du Dauphin. The lap-top was stolen in August 2014 and the contents had not been backed up.
ORourke conceded that her client had told a lot of lies in previous statements to the GMC, which has brought the case against him, and UK Anti-Doping.
Quoting Freeman, who was sitting alongside her at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service hearing in Manchester, she added: I couldnt bring myself to tell the truth, even to my lawyers. I am here now and this is the truth.
Freeman faces losing his doctors licence if the tribunal finds against him in a case that was postponed in February because of his ill health. While Freeman now accepts many of the charges against him, ORourke denied his motive was to acquire testosterone for a rider to improve performance. The GMC arent going to believe whatever he says, they are bent on saying it was doping, she said.
ORourke added the only GMC witness she required to cross-examine was Sutton, who was also the personal coach to the 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins. The GMC will call on an expert endocrinologist and will say that Sutton had no medical problem that needed Testogel and to prescribe it would have been inappropriate.
Simon Jackson QC, for the GMC, also urged the panel to look at the history of what had been said by Freeman before the submission of his statement in September to highlight what it deems to be inconsistencies.
The tribunal accepted Freeman could be shielded from the press while giving evidence and also screened from Sutton, if he appears in front of the tribunal. ORourke also took exception to a proposed GMC amendment to the charges from suggesting Freemans motive was to supply the Testogel to an athlete to saying Freeman knew or ought to have known this was a possibility.
But Jackson said the burden of proof had not changed and the amendment reflected updates from Freeman.
Jackson also took exception to ORourkes description of her client as a jobbing GP pointing out Freeman had worked in senior jobs in football and cycling. He is on the GMC register as a specialist in sports medicine; before he started at British Cycling and Team Sky he had been at Bolton Wanderers as a doctor to the youth academy, and in that role he had a specific brief to deal with anti-doping.
A GMC investigation originally drew up 22 allegations against Freeman, including ordering testosterone, administering testosterone, making false statements and asking the supplier to support his assertions the drug was delivered in error. Freeman is now contesting only three of the charges.
The tribunal is in camera making its decision on the GMCs application to amend the allegation. It is due to reconvene on Tuesday 5 November and is scheduled to run until 20 December.