The former chief doctor of Team Sky and British Cycling, Richard Freeman, has failed in a high court appeal against being struck off and now faces a UK Anti-Doping investigation.
Freeman was removed from the medical register in 2021 after being found guilty of ordering 30 sachets of banned testosterone to the National Cycling Centre, “knowing or believing” it was for an unnamed rider to improve their performance. He had appealed against the decision, arguing that a medical tribunal had been wrong to find his former colleague Shane Sutton a “credible and consistent witness” after he had stormed out of the original hearing.
Freeman’s legal team had accused Sutton of being “belligerent, argumentative, evasive and obstructive” when giving testimony at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service. But while Mr Justice Fordham accepted that certain aspects of Sutton’s conduct was “unacceptable”, he ruled that there was “nothing wrong” with the judgment against Freeman.
The decision not only leaves Freeman £23,000 poorer but facing the resumption of a Ukad investigation into his conduct which was paused in 2021 because of his appeal. The 63-year-old had been charged with two anti-doping rule violations and could face a four-year doping ban from sport.
It is yet another fall from grace for Freeman, who was a key figure in the extraordinary success of both Team Sky and British Cycling’s medal factory, overseeing the medical care of the riders between 2009 and 2017. However, when he was found guilty of ordering Testogel for an unnamed rider in May 2011, and lying to cover his tracks, the news sent shockwaves through the sport and left Team Sky and British Cycling shrouded in suspicion.
Freeman had argued that he had ordered the testosterone on Sutton’s behalf in order to treat Sutton’s erectile dysfunction – a claim angrily denied by the Australian former Team Sky coach and British Cycling technical director. Sutton told the tribunal: “You are saying I can’t get a hard-on in the press. My wife wants to come here and testify you are a bloody liar.”
In conclusion to his 38-page judgment, Mr Justice Fordham said: “In my judgment, there is nothing within the tribunal’s approach, reasoning or conclusions. The appeal is dismissed; and the Appellant is to pay the respondent’s costs summarily assessed in the sum claimed as £23,000.”
A statement on Monday from Freeman’s lawyers at JMW Solicitors said they were “disappointed”.