UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) today announced that Richard Freeman, the former Team Sky doctor and British Cycling at the center of a long-running storm over alleged doping at both teams, has been banned from all sports for four years for breaking the rules of getting Testogel for anonymous riders, as well as lying to UKAD.
UKAD, the body responsible for protecting UK sport against doping, said that “subject to a decision by the independent National Anti-Doping Commission in July 2023”, Freeman will receive a four-year ban from sport.
Investigators revealed that 30 Testogel sachets had been delivered to British Cycling’s headquarters at the Manchester Circuit in May 2011, which Freeman was found to be in possession of. UKAD said it committed the anti-doping rule breaches of “possession of a prohibited substance” on two separate occasions of “breach”. The investigation began in September 2016 when UKAD received information that a possible infringement may have been committed by Team Sky at the Critérium du Dauphiné. The breach involved the contents of a package handed to Freeman at the end of the match, now known as a ‘jiffy bag’.
Testogel is a prescription-only medicine containing the banned substance testosterone, which, under the UK Anti-Doping Rules, is prohibited at all times. Each of the violations proven by UKAD in the proceedings before the independent National Anti-Doping Commission relates to this supply of Testogel.
> Freeman fallout continues as Wiggins doubts rider would have used Testogel for doping
The independent tribunal was “comfortably satisfied” that Freeman had “intended to make available to one or more of his athletes the Prohibited Substance delivered on the Manchester Pavement”.
While Dr Freeman had accepted he had lied to UKAD about returning the Testogel to the supplier, he claimed the testogel had been ordered for a staff member who was not a rider. UKAD found this not to be the case, proving that Freeman was in possession of the banned substance “in relation to an athlete, an event or a training session”.
The court found that UKAD had also established the second infringement against Dr Freeman whose “conduct overturned the doping control”.
The first breach involved Freeman knowingly providing UKAD with false information that Testogel had been returned to the supplier. The second breach involved Freeman knowingly providing UKAD with false information that he had written to a non-riding member of staff asking to waive patient confidentiality and claiming they had refused to do so.
Earlier this month, we reported that Freeman had been denied the opportunity to defend himself against charges related to two anti-doping rule violations.
> Former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman faces doping ban after refusing to defend himself against allegations
As already mentioned above, UKAD’s investigation began in 2016 after receiving information about a bag handed to Freeman at the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2011. In 2016, Team Sky director Sir Dave Brailsford told a parliamentary inquiry that the package, which was flown to France from Manchester by a British Cycling employee, contained the decongestant fluimucil, to treat Bradley Wiggins’ hay fever.
In 2021, Freeman lost a High Court appeal in January against a court’s decision to strike him off the medical register after it was found that his fitness to practice had been impaired by misconduct. He was ordered to pay £23,000 General Medical Council (GMC) costs after unsuccessfully appealing to be struck off the register after he was found to have ordered banned testosterone in 2011 “knowing or believing” he was to help drug a jockey who was not named.
Jane Rumble, Chief Executive of UKAD, said: “The decision of the National Anti-Doping Agency’s independent tribunal confirms that Richard Freeman broke the UK Anti-Doping Rules. The rules are in place to ensure that everyone plays their part in keeping sport alive clean and to ensure a level playing field.
“The results of the respective investigations by both UKAD and the GMC were vital to uncovering the truth in this matter. This case sends a strong message to all athlete support staff that the rules apply to them as much as to athletes, and that they have a clear responsibility to uphold the values of integrity in sport. When they do not, every effort will be made to ensure that the rules are enforced.”
Mario Theophanous, UKAD’s Head of Intelligence and Investigations, who led UKAD’s investigation into Dr. Freeman, said: “This was a complex and comprehensive investigation to establish whether any wrongdoing had been committed, working with individuals who bravely came forward to give information to protect the values of their sport.
> Dr. Richard Freeman claims he did not know testosterone enhanced athletic performance
Following the announcement, British Cycling President Frank Slevin also issued a statement reiterating his stance against doping and pledging to support both UKAD and the GMC in their investigations into any issues that may arise in the future.
He said: “We have previously stated that Richard Freeman’s conduct during his employment with British Cycling bore no resemblance to the high ethical and professional standards that we, our members and our partners rightly expect.
“We also recognize that many will be understandably disappointed, as we are, that some issues arising from this case and others remain uncertain. We want to once again take this opportunity to urge people with relevant information to come forward with UK Anti-Doping.”
Slevin added: “In the years since Freeman was suspended from employment by British Cycling, we have made great progress in strengthening the provision of medical services to riders competing for the Great Britain Cycling Team. We have been awarded Care Quality status Commission in October 2020 – making us one of the first professional sports medicine facilities to achieve the status – is testament to the progress we have made.”
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