Former Cycling Doctor 'Bullied Into Ordering Banned Substance'

Chris Jaffray 

November 08, 2019

MANCHESTER - The former doctor for Team Sky and British Cycling ordered 30 sachets of a prohibited substance and got people around him to lie to cover his tracks.

Dr Richard Freeman was at a hearing of the Medical Practitioners' Tribunal Service (MPTS) today to answer an allegation relating to the ordering of a package of Testogel to the Velodrome in Manchester in 2011.

He admits ordering it and lying about having it returned to Fitness4Sport but denies that it was for an athlete and that he knew or believed it could be used to enhance performance.

'Bullied'

Instead Dr Freeman claims it was for cycling coach Shane Sutton, referred to in proceedings as "the non-athlete" and will argue he was bullied into obtaining it.

He will allege Mr Sutton needed it for erectile dysfunction, but the General Medical Council (GMC) will claim his medical records do not support that he had any condition that would require a prescription of Testogel.

The case against Dr Freeman was opened today by the GMC's QC Simon Jackson.

He said the package came to the Velodrome in May 2011 and was picked up by physio Phil Burt who took it to a room with Dr Freeman and Dr Steve Peters and Dr Freeman said: "We should not have that."

Mr Jackson said Dr Freeman got Trish Meats, at Fitness4Sport who he had ordered it from, to email him claiming it had been sent in error and had been returned and destroyed.

The email, which she admitted sending believing it to be an internal issue, was sent in October that year.

He is also said to have got Dr Peters to go to the press in 2016 and claim the package was sent in error, returned, and destroyed.

Career Details

When Dr Freeman was interviewed by UK Anti-Doping in 2017, he claimed the package had been ordered for 'the non-athlete' but refused to name him.

Mr Jackson also outlined Dr Freeman's career to highlight his knowledge of the substance could not be denied.

He said: "He qualified as a doctor in 1984, has been GMC registered since August 1985.

"He worked as a GP registrar and between 1989 and 2008 worked at his own GP surgery and had two different practices.

"He was a specialist in erectile dysfunction.

"Between 2000 and 2008 he worked for Bolton Wanderers, initially part of the youth team, then full- time as team doctor for the club, including anti-doping.

"In June 2003 he was made a fellow of the faculties of sports and exercise by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland."

Finally he added: "He was not expecting a colleague, Phil Burt, to open it [the package] at the Velodrome.

"He called Trish Meats to tell lies in the email on 18th October 2011.

"He sent his esteemed colleague to repeat that lie to the press.

"When he ran out of excuses for not naming the patient Doctor Freeman after 2 years of refusing to say the name he then named Shane Sutton."

He added there was history between him and Sutton relating to a "long haul flight for personal reasons".

Once the case against her client was outlined, lawyer Mary O'Rourke QC said she thought it was agreed that Shane Sutton suffered from erectile dysfunction but Mr Jackson contested this.

Mr Sutton is expected to come to the UK from China on Monday to give evidence.

The hearing, before Chair Neil Dalton and expected to last 6 weeks, continues.

Chris Jaffray is a journalist with the Mercury Press agency.

Editor's Note: There's an update on the hearing here.

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