Richard Freeman, the ex-chief doctor of Team Sky and British Cycling, has received a four-year doping ban due to his possession of a prohibited substance and his lying when questioned by UK Anti-Doping officials.
In 2021, Freeman was struck off from the medical register due to his involvement in ordering thirty sachets of prohibited testosterone to the National Cycling Centre. It was determined that he knowingly or believed that the substance was intended for an undisclosed rider to enhance their performance.
The ban is the first official doping sanction for a member of British Cycling staff working during what is seen as the golden era of British Cycling, with the team dominating in the velodrome and on the roads. Freeman, also worked closely with Sir Bradley Wiggins and other top riders while working for the powerhouse that was Team Sky (now Ineos Grenadiers), and was the Team GB physician during the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.
Freeman claimed that he had bought the prohibited testosterone to treat the erectile dysfunction of the former British Cycling technical director Shane Sutton. This claim had been dismissed by a medical practitioners tribunal in 2021, when Freeman was questioned as to why he had not informed his colleagues Phil Burt or Dr Steve Peters about the testosterone package when it was delivered to the Manchester Velodrome where both Team Sky and Team GB were based in 2011.
Freeman who also chose not to defend himself had his claims rejected by the National Anti‑Doping panel, chaired by Charles Flint KC alongside David Casement KC and Prof Dorian Haskard. In their written decision the panel stated, “The first occasion on which Dr Freeman raised the suggestion that a ‘non-rider’ staff member had any involvement in the order for testosterone was in his interview in 2017. If Dr Freeman had believed that the Testogel was supplied for Mr Sutton in May 2011 then, as determined by the MPT, it was inexplicable that Dr Freeman did not inform Mr Burt or Dr Peters that the Testogel was for a patient and subject to patient confidentiality.”
The chairman of British Cycling, Frank Slevin, admitted that Freeman’s conduct during his employment by the national governing body “bore no resemblance to the high ethical and professional standards which we, our members and our partners rightly expect."
Slevin also expressed his annoyance that it was still unclear who Freeman bought the prohibited testosterone package for or whether the banned substance was ever used on a rider saying, We acknowledge that many will be understandably frustrated, as we are ourselves, that some matters arising from this case and others remain uncertain. We once again want to take this opportunity to urge individuals with relevant information to share that with UK Anti-Doping."
Shane Sutton has never commented on whether or not he ever had erectile dysfunction and Freeman now has 21 days in which to appeal his four-year ban.