Ex-Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman is facing the prospect of a four-year ban after being charged with two anti-doping violations by UKAD in development which may threaten the reputation of ‘the Gold Medal Factory’
- Richard Freeman has been charged with two anti-doping violations by UKAD
- Ex-Team Sky and British Cycling doctor’s fit-to-practise tribunal ended on Friday
- An investigation into the two charges is ongoing and could pose a four-year ban
- He worked for the teams from 2010-2017 and has admitted to 18 of 22 charges
Richard Freeman – the ex-Team Sky and British Cycling doctor – has been charged with two anti-doping violations in a major development which threatens the reputation of both organisations.
Freeman, whose separate, fit-to-practise medical tribunal concluded hearing evidence on Friday, is now alleged by UK Anti-Doping to have taken ‘possession of a prohibited substance’ and ‘tampering or attempted tampering with any part of doping control’.
An investigation is ongoing. It is understood Freeman has refuted the possession charge but admitted the tampering charge, which covers lying to the UKAD investigators. That would almost certainly mean a four-year ban, even if his defence team try to get the sanction reduced with mitigation and perhaps even cooperation.
Dr Richard Freeman (second left) faces a potential four-year ban after being charged with a further two anti-doping violations by UKAD
If the charges are found, it would no-doubt inflict substantial damage on all-conquering Team Sky and British Cycling and raise serious questions over the achievements at the Manchester Velodrome HQ of both, which was dubbed ‘the Gold Medal Factory’.
Freeman has already admitted 18 of 22 charges including that he ordered banned testosterone in May 2011 and subsequently carried out a botched cover-up at the ongoing Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service hearing, which is now into its third year.
He denies, however, that he obtained 30 sachets of Testogel ‘knowing or believing’ that they were to be used to dope a rider.A senior UKAD investigator has been in attendance throughout the long-running hearing. The body had until May this year to charge, until the 10-year time-limit expired. While they declined to comment, it is understood that they moved after hearing evidence at the tribunal.
The doctor worked for Team Sky (pictured) and British Cycling between 2010 and 2017
No anti-doping rule violations have been found against any rider or member of staff at Team Sky or British Cycling since Sir Dave Brailsford ushered in a much-heralded glittering era of success which saw both outfits dominate the sport.There has been controversy, including Sir Bradley Wiggins’ use of a therapeutic use exemption certificate which allowed him to take a banned corticosteroid ahead of his historic 2012 Tour de France success.
The inquiry into the infamous Jiffy Bag episode uncovered poor medical practices, while the recruitment of staff with links to doping at Team Sky have also been highlighted.However, should Freeman – who served as a doctor to both teams from 2010 to 2017 and who worked closely with Wiggins – be found guilty it could leave a dark cloud over their many successes.
A ruling from the MPTS is expected to be handed down in March. Attention will then shift to the UKAD inquiry. Within the hearing, Freeman has already admitted lying to UKAD investigators who had uncovered the testosterone order during their probe into the mystery Jiffy Bag package sent out to France by Team Sky, which is now known as Team Ineos, in June 2011. He has also provided evidence that may well be relevant to the fresh inquiry.
Dubbed ‘the Gold Medal factory’, the claims have called into question both teams’ success
‘Sadly I have to accept that I failed to meet the required standards…in regard to the communications between colleagues in relation to the Testogel package and the account I gave to UKAD,’ Freeman said. ‘All my admitted failings have had an unfortunate impact and consequence on others. I take full responsibility and blame no-one else.
’Freeman worked closely with Wiggins during his time with Team Sky and British Cycling from 2010 to 2017. The Great Britain team topped the cycling medal tables at both 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, claiming 14 golds and 24 medals in total.
On Friday, Mary O’Rourke QC, on behalf of Freeman, concluded her arguments. She accused the General Medical Council, which has brought the fit-to-practise case, of ‘dredging the barrel’ with some of their arguments.
UKAD’s investigation is set to follow the ruling from the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service. expected in March
Her client argues that he was bullied into ordering the banned substance by former coach Shane Sutton and that it was to treat the Australian’s alleged erectile dysfunction, claims Sutton has angrily denied.
O’Rourke added that the GMC’s case was ‘desperate’, lacking in facts and had failed to point out which rider the sachets were intended for.
The tribunal is due to give its decision on March 2. No date has yet been set for a National Anti-Doping Panel hearing.