A tribunal has ruled that former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman’s name be erased from the Medical Register, following yesterday’s finding that his fitness to practise medicine had been impaired due to his misconduct.
In the decision handed down today in Manchester, Neil Dalton, chairing the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service Hearing, said that “Dr Freeman’s behaviour is fundamentally incompatible with continued registration.
“The tribunal has therefore determined that erasure [from the Medical Register] is the only sufficient sanction which would protect patients, maintain public confidence in the profession and send a clear message to Dr Freeman, the profession and the public that his misconduct constituted behaviour unbefitting and incompatible with that of a registered doctor.”
The MTPS has also clarified that the order is immediate, meaning Freeman's registration will be erased straight away, even during the appeal period.
Other courses of action that were considered but rejected included taking no action, which “following a finding of impaired fitness to practise would only be appropriate in exceptional circumstances.”
The question of imposing conditions on Freeman’s registration was also discarded, seen as being “insufficient to meet the public interest and to maintain proper professional,” as was imposing a period of suspension on him.
On that point, the tribunal concluded that “in light of its findings in relation to the gravity and seriousness of Dr Freeman’s persistent and calculated dishonesty, coupled with its finding that he does not have any insight into his dishonesty, a period of suspension would not be appropriate.”
Below is our original story published on 18 March 2021, following the ruling on the fitness to practise aspect of the case but prior to the sanction being handed down.
A tribunal has ruled that former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman’s fitness to practise medicine is impaired due to his misconduct.
The decision was handed down at lunchtime today in Manchester by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS), which will now consider what sanctions to impose on the doctor.
It follows last week’s ruling by the same tribunal that Freeman ordered Testogel in May 2011 “knowing or believing that it was to be administered to an athlete to improve their athletic performance.”
That was one of just four of the 22 charges laid against the doctor by the General Medical Council that he denied.
MPTS tribunal chair, Neil Dalton, said today: “The tribunal bore in mind that Dr Freeman’s misconduct involved a number of significant elements, including serious dishonesty, as well as behaviour which could have placed patients at unwarranted risk of harm.
“It concluded that public confidence in the profession would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made.
“The tribunal has therefore determined that Dr Freeman’s fitness to practise is impaired by reason of his misconduct.”
Freeman had claimed that he had been bullied into ordering the patches, delivered to the National Cycling Centre in Manchester in May 2011, by Shane Sutton, at the time a coach with the Great Britain Cycling Team and Team Sky.
Freeman alleged that Sutton wanted them to treat an erectile dysfunction he claimed the Australian was suffering from – something the Australian vehemently denied.
The tribunal dismissed the physician’s defence, saying that Freeman had constructed an “elaborate falsehood” in an attempt to “conceal his conduct.”
At the weekend, Freeman, who left British Cycling in 2017, said he was “shocked” at the tribunal’s finding that he ordered the patches for an athlete, and denied being a “doping doctor.”
Last month, ahead of the MPTS panel reaching its decision, he was charged by UK Anti-Doping with possession of prohibited substances and/or prohibited methods, as well as tampering or attempted tampering with any part of doping control. In the meantime, it has provisionally suspended him from all sport.
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.