Shane Sutton, the former technical director of British Cycling, threatened to “finish” Team Sky and the British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman after a series of whistleblowing allegations, Freeman has claimed.
Freeman says Sutton suspected him as the source of separate whistleblowing claims to UK Sport and British Cycling that Sutton had spent £6,000 of British Cycling’s money on cosmetic dentistry, misappropriated funds, and gave sponsors’ road bikes to his relatives and business associates.
He says he suspects Sutton was the source for a Daily Mail story about a mystery package delivered to Bradley Wiggins at the Critérium Du Dauphiné in 2011, which later became the subject of a UK Anti-Doping investigation, and that Sutton told Freeman that he, Wiggins and the Team Sky chief Dave Brailsford “were all finished”.
In three witness statements to the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, newly released by Freeman’s legal team, Freeman details how Sutton blamed him after losing his job in May 2016. Freeman also alleges Sutton was aware he had gone behind his back to the British Cycling board to detail his concerns.
These concerns allegedly included that Sutton awarded funding to a masseuse to undertake a physiotherapy degree, without consulting him or the head physiotherapist Phil Burt. “He threatened to sack both of us when we objected to this,” Freeman claims.
“I complained to the board of what I believed was misuse of British Cycling resources by Mr Sutton, including £6,000 for his personal cosmetic dentistry performed by the official British Cycling dentist, funding for a three-year physiotherapy degree for a masseuse and MR scans for staff and their families, amongst others.
“I now recognise that these attempts at whistleblowing were highly likely to have been reported to Mr Sutton and as a result would have caused further damage to our relationship.
“This occurred to me when later Mr Sutton showed me the email trail from UK Sport to British Cycling re a whistleblowing statement made about himself (which UK Sport treated as a grievance and returned to British Cycling), which he wrongly believed that either myself or Phil Burt had sent.
“He confronted both of us together stating he knew it was one of us and that he would seize our laptops and phones to prove it. Both Phil and I were shocked at his outburst and threats made during that intimidating exchange.”
British Cycling has been approached for comment. Sutton has strongly denied the version of events Freeman has given in evidence to the tribunal. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph on Saturday, he accused Freeman of being a liar, adding: “He has got himself into something deep here and seen me as a way out.”
Freeman has accepted 18 of the 22 charges against him from the GMC, including ordering the banned Testogel in 2011 and lying to UK Anti‑Doping. Last week he also admitted abusing his position by persuading an employee of the medical supplier Fit4Sport to cover his tracks.
Freeman denies “knowing or believing it was to be used by an athlete to improve performance” and says he purchased it for Sutton to treat his erectile dysfunction.
In his witness statements, Freeman said: “In September 2016 I received several phone calls from him, in an agitated state, blaming me for his downfall. In the last call he told me he had spoken to a journalist who was going to run a story regarding an illegal injection in the bus at Sestriere in 2011, and that we were all finished. He said this related to myself, Sir Dave Brailsford and Sir Bradley Wiggins. I was devastated. I blocked his phone number.”
Freeman went on: “Shortly after he called me from his partner’s phone. I answered it as she had previously asked for medical advice. It was Shane Sutton ranting and threatening, I put the phone down and blocked that number. When the Daily Mail story broke in Oct 2016 regarding the race in Sestriere in 2011, it came as no surprise that the allegation was made about me and I assumed that Shane Sutton was the source.”
Freeman also claims he was asked to treat a host of senior management and staff, and give them medication from the organisation’s supplies, free of charge. Freeman claims the request was made by his superior Dr Steve Peters, one of the leading names in British sports medicine. Among further revelations are that Freeman treated 17 non-riders as patients, including the families of some staff.
Freeman claims he treated Peters “with a request by him [Peters] that the treatment not be advised to his GP”.
The hearing in Manchester continues on Monday.