Dr Richard Freeman was driven by ambition and prepared to put others at risk, a medical tribunal heard on Friday. Summing up the General Medical Council’s case against the former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor, Simon Jackson QC accused him of being a liar and a risk-taker who had planned to dope a rider.
The Guardian reports that Freeman has admitted 18 of the 22 charges brought against him by the General Medical Council, including ordering the banned substance Testogel. However, he denies that he did so “knowing or believing” that they were intended for use by an athlete.
He claims that he ordered the patches for former British Cycling and Team Sky coach Shane Sutton to treat erectile dysfunction – something strenuously denied by Sutton.
“There’s an old truism,’ said Jackson. “It’s not the lie that gets you — it’s the cover-up. And what a cover-up it’s been, drawing in other people who became casualties of Dr Freeman’s campaign for self-preservation.”
Jackson said it was “inconceivable” that Freeman did not know the athletic benefits of testosterone, as he claimed, and said his admission he hadn’t read the small print of the World Anti-Doping Agency code was, “untenable as being the truth.”
He also said there was “no evidence” for Freeman’s claim that he had been bullied into ordering the Testogel by Sutton, arguing the doctor had simply been seeking to exploit his former colleague’s poor reputation to protect himself.
“By framing Shane Sutton he was taking advantage opportunistically of various bullying allegations against him,” he suggested.
Summing up, Jackson said: “As the lead team doctor he was under pressure – as all doctors were – to have riders fit and ready to deliver the expected performance and the expected results. He was also a risk taker. And he was knowingly prepared to put others at risk with his prescribing practices in respect of riders, but always did it standing behind their stated consent to the medication which he provided.”
He concluded: “All the lies told in the subsequent cover-up make no logical sense. The GMC submits that they all point to concealment of a plan, Dr Freeman’s plan, that the Testogel should be used to dope a rider.”
The almost interminably long-running tribunal continues on Monday with Freeman’s counsel Mary O’Rourke expected to begin her closing submissions on Tuesday.
A decision is expected in March, with the doctor potentially being barred from practising medicine when the tribunal finally makes its decision.