Freeman: I told ‘lot of lies’ over testosterone
Team Sky doctor admits misleading GMC inquiry Coach Sutton denies ordering drug package
The doctor accused of buying testosterone for an unnamed rider while working for Team Sky and British Cycling has admitted telling “a lot of lies” about the case, a medical tribunal into his conduct heard yesterday.
But Dr Richard Freeman has also denied a delivery of the banned substance to the headquarters of both organisations had been intended – on his part – for use by an athlete, according to his lawyer, who claimed he had been acting at the behest of former colleague Shane Sutton.
On an explosive opening day of his rescheduled Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service hearing in Manchester, Mary O’rourke, Freeman’s QC, said her client had told “a lot of lies” about his May 2011 order of Testogel, which is at the centre of the case brought against him by the General Medical Council.
She told the three-strong MPTS panel Freeman previously could “not bring himself to tell the truth, even to his lawyers”, but had done in a witness statement last month.
Quoting her client, who stands to lose his medical licence if the tribunal finds against him, she added: “I am here now. This is the truth.”
Freeman, who quit as British Cycling team doctor in October 2017 following what he last year said had been “suicidal thoughts” over various accusations against him, had previously given evidence about the testosterone delivery during investigations by UK Anti-doping and the GMC.
He had even done so ahead of an adjourned MPTS tribunal into the allegations against him earlier this year, at which he failed to appear for health reasons.
Those accusations include that he: ordered 30 sachets of Testogel from Oldham-based Fit4sport Limited with the motive of improving the performance of an athlete; made an untrue statement that the order had been made in error; requested a written confirmation that the order had been made in error five months after the delivery; and made untrue statements that the order had been intended for a non-athlete member of staff and was subsequently returned.
O’rourke told the panel Freeman admitted ordering the Testogel, but denied doing so with the intention of it being used by a rider, accusing the GMC of having “no evidence from an athlete” that this was the case. She alleged the order had been placed at the request of Sutton, then British Cycling technical director, who had also been on the staff of Team Sky and a personal coach to Sir Bradley Wiggins. Sutton denies any knowledge of the order.
The panel also granted a request by Freeman that he be screened from Sutton when the latter testified and that he himself be screened from the media when giving his own side of the story.
Representing the GMC, Simon Jackson QC requested that there be an amendment to its case against Freeman in light of his Sept 24 witness statement and indicated the tribunal would hear from an endocrinologist who would demonstrate that the “patient” for whom Freeman claims the substance was ordered had no medical need for it.
O’rourke objected to the use of the word “patient” and said it was fairer to frame her client’s actions as a response to a request from a member of staff.
The hearing, which was adjourned until Tuesday, is expected to examine the circumstances around the delivery of the testosterone product, which has a history of abuse in cycling and other sports, and an exchange of paperwork between British Cycling and Fit4sport.
Freeman – also at the centre of controversies over Wiggins’s use of Therapeutic Use Exemptions and a Jiffy bag delivered to the same rider in 2011 – is additionally accused of: administering non-urgent medical treatment to non-athlete members of staff and on three occasions not informing their GPS; failing to keep appropriate medical records and make them retrievable – including those relating to the treatment of Wiggins – after his laptop was stolen; and inappropriate management of prescription-only medicine.
Under scrutiny: Dr Richard Freeman says he is ready to tell the truth to a medical tribunal