Dr Steve Peters, former head of medicine at British Cycling and Team Sky, has told the tribunal into his former colleague Dr Richard Freeman that using Testogel patches to try would be a “mad” way to try and gain a performance enhancing benefit.
Giving evidence at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester today in the case brought against Freeman by the General Medical Council (GMC), Peters said that if an athlete used a Testogel patch, it would be likely to be detected in anti-doping controls.
The GMC’s allegations include, among other things, that the Testogel patches were ordered by Freeman to be used by an unnamed athlete, in contravention of anti-doping rules.
Freeman, who worked as a doctor with both British Cycling and Team Sky, has admitted 18 of the 22 charges against him and faces being barred from practising medicine.
He has admitted ordering 30 sachets of Testogel for delivery to the National Cycling Centre in Manchester, but claims they were for former British Cycling and Team Sky coach Shane Sutton, to treat an alleged erectile dysfunction.
Sutton was subjected to an often stormy cross-examination by Freeman’s QC Mary O’Rourke on Tuesday, storming out of the hearing. Freeman himself did not appear today, citing an “adverse reaction” to Sutton’s testimony.
Today, O’Rourke asked Peters: “If it [Testogel] was ordered to dope a rider, that’s not how you would do it unless you were mad.”
He agreed, adding: “It would be picked up very quickly [in an anti-doping test]. It would be very hard to do this.”
He continued: “What didn’t make sense is if someone were to cheat they wouldn’t go through the supplier for British Cycling where there’s a paper trail. Initially I thought it must be someone forging his [Freeman’s] signature.”
On the issue of whether the patches may have been procured on behalf of Sutton, and that was the reason why Freeman had originally lied about ordering them, Peters said: “That doesn’t quite add up.
“My relationship with Shane was very up and down, as I think with everybody, but Shane is a very open book. Shane came to me many times. I just didn’t understand why he would not tell me. He confided a lot in me about his relationships.”
The tribunal heard that Freeman has a history of bipolar disorder and had been admitted to hospital in the past, including when his marriage broke up in 2011,with concerns he might take his own life.
Regarding the case at hand and the evidence that Freeman and Sutton had given, Peters said: “We’ve got two men and clearly one of them is lying. None of it seems to make sense.”
The hearing resumes tomorrow, when former Team Sky and British Cycling physio Phil Burt is expected to appear as a witness on behalf of the GMC.
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.