Former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman is to break his silence in what its publishers call “an extraordinary new book” on the ‘Jiffy Bag’ affair that led to both being investigated by UK Anti-doping over allegations of wrongdoing.
Last year, Freeman declined to provide evidence to a House of Commons select committee examining combatting doping in sport, and in October left his position at British Cycling, citing ill-health.
Now, however, it has been revealed that he has written a book that will be published later this month, much of which will touch on issues on which members of the Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee were eager to quiz him. The committee's chair has said it will "take "a close interest" in the book's contents.
The book’s title, The Line: Where the Worlds of Medicine and Sport Collide, echoes Team Sky’s highly publicised mission statement when it launched ahead of the 2010 season and which referred to the blue vertical line that appeared on the rear of its jerseys until the end of 2016 and was also prominent in other aspects of its branding.
The 336-page book will be released on 28 June, little more than a week before the start of the Tour de France, guaranteeing it a wealth of publicity with Team Sky also embroiled in the ongoing saga of four-time champion Chris Froome's salbutamol case.
According to publisher Wildfire, “in a sport where there's an ethical line as well as a finishing line, Dr Freeman gives a frank and open account in response to allegations of misuse of medical treatment to enhance performance.”
The select committee focused on Team Sky and British Cycling in late 2016 due to concerns over therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) granted to Sir Bradley Wiggins, as well as the contents of a Jiffy Bag containing medicine for the rider delivered to Freeman at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphiné.
Existence of the TUEs, granted ahead of key races including the 2012 Tour de France which Wiggins won, had been revealed by Russian hackers in the wake of the Rio Olympics.
In October 2016, Daily Mail sports editor Matt Lawton revealed the existence of the Jiffy Bag, which was take to France by then British Cycling employee, Simon Cope.
In evidence given to the inquiry in December 2016 following several ,weeks of denying knowledge of what was in the package, Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford told the select committee it contained the legal anti-asthma drug, Fluimucil.
However, the absence of medical records, plus the apparent theft of Freeman’s laptop while he was on holiday in Greece in 2014 and Freeman’s failure to follow Team Sky policy and upload files to a shared Dropbox account, meant it was impossible to substantiate that claim and UKAD closed the case in November 2017 with no charges brought due to there being insufficient evidence.
The select committee’s report was published last March and was highly critical of both British Cycling and Team Sky, saying that “To many people, the whole story of the package seems implausible, to say the least,” and noting that it had been alleged to UKAD that it contained triamcinolone.
Had it been the latter, since it was administered to Wiggins immediately after the end of the 2011 Criterium du Dauphiné, a race he won, and he did not at the time have a valid TUE for the drug, it would have constituted an anti-doping rule violation.
The report revealed that the committee had invited Freeman to comment on what was in the package, and that “In response, rather than confirm what David Brailsford told the Committee that the package contained, “only Fluimucil”, he wrote that he had taken legal advice,” and told the inquiry:
Where I have not had disclosed to me the nature of the ‘new evidence’, its format, source and any other relevant details, including why the evidence should only be available now, it would not be appropriate for me to respond presently. Given the potential seriousness of the matters you have now raised, I am advised that mindful of the background of various investigations which are ongoing, I should not be expected to provide any further comment to you presently.
The report found that UKAD’s investigation “was made much harder by the failure of both the team managers, and British Cycling to ensure proper records were kept relating to the supply of medicines and the treatment of athletes.
“It is not acceptable that Dr Freeman should have been able to act during the period under investigation without proper supervision,” it continued.
“It should have been ensured that the medical records for Bradley Wiggins were uploaded to the shared cloud storage system, as then required by Team Sky.”
The report added: “The General Medical Council (GMC) should investigate Dr Freeman for his failings, and, if he is found to have breached their rules, take appropriate action against him.”
Damian Collins, Conservative MP for Folkestone and Hythe and chair of the select committee, told Telegraph Sport that he and his colleagues would take “a close interest” in the book’s contents.
He said: “It is disappointing that Richard Freeman wants to tell his story, rather than be questioned about it in front of the committee.
“We will take a close interest in anything he says which is related to our inquiry and report,” he added.
Wiggins himself, who insisted after publication of the select committee’s report that he had been the subject of a “malicious witch hunt,” is quoted in the publicity material for the book on the publisher’s website.
The quote reads: ”Dr Freeman is a man of great integrity and kindness. His care has helped me through the good times and the hardships of competing in the highest level of sport.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.