Ex-British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman has told a medical tribunal that he did not know that testosterone was a performance enhancing substance when he ordered 30 patches of Testogel to the National Cycling Centre in Manchester in May 2011.
The doctor made the claim on the final day of cross-examination at his fitness-to-practise hearing at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester.
He has admitted 18 of the 22 charges brought against him by the General Medical Council, including having ordered the patches, but denies that he did so “knowing or believing” that they were intended for use by an athlete, reports BBC Sport.
At the time in question, Freeman was working for both the Great Britain Cycling Team and for Team Sky, which had begun racing the previous year and which initially recruited doctors from outside the sport, given its history of doping.
“I'm not a cycling fan, I'm a doctor in sports medicine,” Freeman told the hearing yesterday. “We were focused on managing athletes and there was this mantra that we were a clean team – it was never discussed.”
Asked for his opinion of the drug culture within cycling at the time, and whether he would have been aware of testosterone’s performance-enhancing properties, Freeman said: “No, I wouldn't have, really. I came into cycling quite fresh.”
He also insisted that the topic of doping had never been raised between himself and Dr Steve Peters, at the time the medical director of British Cycling.
“The main interest in endurance cycling was blood doping,” he insisted. “Dr Peters and I never discussed doping.”
Freeman joined British Cycling towards the end of 2009, and while he may not have had a background in the sport, his professed ignorance of matters related to doping is bound to raise eyebrows.
Besides the fact that a medical professional with elite athletes under their care would need to be familiar with the World Anti-Doping Code and the substances prohibited or controlled under it, there were a number of high-profile doping cases in the sport at the time.
Those included the confession by Floyd Landis in May 2010 – a year before Freeman ordered the Testogel patches – that he had used testosterone during the 2006 Tour de France, which he won only to be stripped of the title after failing an anti-doping control.
Freeman’s insistence that he was unaware of testosterone’s performance-enhancing capabilities is, presumably, limited only to the sporting sense – he has claimed that he ordered the patches to for former British Cycling and Team Sky coach Shane Sutton to treat an alleged erectile dysfunction – something Sutton strenuously denies.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.