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Dr Richard Freeman hearing goes private to protect Team Sky and GB riders' blood value data

Tribunal that first sat in February 2019 may now run until next Easter

Today's session of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service hearing into Dr Richard Freeman’s fitness to practise was held in private – to protect blood test data relating to riders from Team Sky and the Great Britain Cycling Team from being released into the public domain.

The Guardian reports that the tribunal, which began in February 2019, has now been adjourned until next Thursday. The hearing is scheduled to run until 26 November, but the newspaper says that it may not now conclude until Easter next year.

That is because Mary O’Rourke, the Queen’s Counsel defending Freeman, who has admitted all but four of the 22 charges brought against him by the General Medical Council, has another case scheduled in the interim.

Freeman has admitted ordering Testogel testosterone patches to be delivered to the National Cycling Centre in Manchester in 2011, but denies that he did so “knowing or believing it was to be used by an athlete to improve performance.”

Instead, he claims he was bullied into ordering them by former British Cycling and Team Sky coach Shane Sutton, alleging that he was suffering from an erectile dysfunction – something the Australian vehemently denies.

The request to hold today’s session in private was reportedly made at the request of both British Cycling and Team Sky, and the week’s adjournment of the case is said to be to allow a protocol to be drawn up to protect the anonymity of individual riders.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Velovoyeur | 2 years ago
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Medical research has recognised that a male athlete’s blood levels of testosterone, white blood cells and red cell become depleted after prolonged exercise and when fatigue sets in. Therefore, the sportsdoctor “keeps the rider healthy” by restoring these levels. This is the basis of the argument that David Millar explains in his book ‘Racing through the dark’. 

It is not surprising that any sports team would need a medical specialist who knows about this and how to administer medication without going outside the rules  or getting caught. Don’t think for one moment that Team Sky’s marginal gains research didn’t look at the interpretation of the rules as well as the science of cycling. Then they needed to find someone who was either A: a fully skilled and knowledgeable medical expert who could do what was necessary or B: a medical expert who was carelss and could be made a scapegoat. Step forward Dr Freeman.

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