Former British Cycling Doctor Unaware Testosterone Could Be Used for Doping

Ian Leonard

November 18, 2020

MANCHESTER—A former Team Sky and British cycling doctor has claimed that he didn't know testosterone could be used to dope riders when he ordered it.

Dr Richard Freeman said he wasn't initially aware that the medication was banned under the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) Code because he worked for a "clean team" and it was never discussed.

He's accused of ordering testosterone to the national velodrome in May 2011 "knowing or believing" it was intended to boost an unknown rider's performance.

Dr Freeman, who appeared before a fitness to practise hearing at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) in Manchester, admits placing the order - consisting of 30 Testogel sachets - but denies it was intended for a rider.

He claims he was "bullied" into making the order by head cycling coach Shane Sutton to help treat his erectile dysfunction.

'Not a Cycling Fan'

Panel chair Neil Dalton questioned Dr Freeman about his reasons for ordering the Testogel.

Dr Freeman said that he'd only discussed prescribing testosterone "in general" with Mr Sutton and he'd asked for it by name.

Mr Dalton asked the doctor whether he was aware of allegations about the "drug culture around cycling", and more specifically the use of testosterone to boost performance.

He also made reference to an "explosive" interview given by disgraced rider Floyd Landis in 2011 where he'd confessed to using testosterone.

Dr Freeman said he "wouldn't have" been aware of its use in doping but knew about blood doping and EPOs.

"I am not a cycling fan I am doctor in sports medicine," he said.

He added: "We [the team] were focussed on managing athletes and there was this mantra that it was a clean team so it was never discussed."

Dr Freeman said he'd advised Mr Sutton to "see a specialist" and he'd never prescribed testosterone for any man.

"I did state my case but Mr Sutton was a dominant man, he was threatening," he said.

"He made it clear what the consequences would be if I made a mistake."

Banned Drug

Mr Dalton then questioned Dr Freeman about the sequence of events when the order had arrived at the team's HQ and it had been opened by physiotherapist Phil Burt.

Dr Freeman had then taken it to his boss, Head of Medicine Professor Steve Peters, and it was  then he'd realised it was a banned drug and that even being in possession of it was in breach of doping rules, it's claimed.

Mr Dalton asked whether Prof Peters had ordered Dr Freeman to send it back to the suppliers - Fit4Sport - and get a confirmation letter that he'd done so "within a week".

Dr Freeman said he'd "never been asked for a letter" as all communication with Fit4Sport had been by email or telephone.

He said Prof Peters had only asked him to provide a confirmation email by October 2011 for what he called his "sticky email" file.

The file was used to provide an email trail, he said, in case the "s*** ever hit the fan".

He agreed that Prof Peters was an "honest" man and his "mentor" and, as such, he would  "accept" his version of events was accurate.

The hearing had previously heard how Dr Freeman never returned the order and persuaded a Fit4Sport employee to help lie for him by saying it had been sent in error, returned and destroyed.

He said that he'd eventually taken the Testogel home and disposed of it down the sink.

Mr Dalton also questioned Dr Freeman about the reasons for prescribing the Testogel for Mr Sutton.

Dr Freeman said he didn't accept that Mr Sutton was suffering from hypogonadism and his needs were more psychological and related to "unrealistic expectations" about his sex life.

The doctor has admitted 18 of 22 charges against him, which include lying about the order by persuading a Fit4Sport employee to help cover his tracks and lying to the UKAD investigation.

He's also admitted charges relating to prescribing medicine to non-athlete members and failing to maintain adequate records.

The four charges he denies all relate to the central charge.

The hearing is continuing.
 

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