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British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman unfit to practise medicine, struck off medical register

A medical tribunal has ruled Dr Richard Freeman unfit to practise due to misconduct. Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Dr. Richard Freeman, the former chief doctor for Team Sky and British Cycling, has been ruled unfit to practise and has been struck off the medical register by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS).

Last Friday, Freeman was found to have covered up the order of a "drug of choice" intended to boost a rider's performance.

The decision comes a day after Freeman, 61, had been deemed unfit to practise due to misconduct that involved "serious dishonesty, as well as behaviour which could have placed patients at unwarranted risk of harm."

On Friday, the Tribunal said in a statement that Freeman's behaviour is fundamentally incompatible with continued registration: "The tribunal has therefore determined that erasure is the only sufficient sanction which would protect patients, maintain public confidence in the profession and send a clear message to Freeman, the profession and the public that his misconduct constituted behaviour unbefitting and incompatible with that of a registered doctor.

"The Tribunal therefore determined that Dr Freeman's name be erased from the Medical Register."

A seperate statement from the MTPS said: "The tribunal bore in mind that Freeman's misconduct involved a number of significant elements, including serious dishonesty, as well as behaviour which could have placed patients at unwarranted risk of harm.

"It concluded that public confidence in the profession would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made. The Tribunal has therefore determined that Freeman's fitness to practise is impaired by reason of his misconduct."

Freeman received the guilty verdict from MPTS following a lengthy investigation and hearings lasting two years into the discovery of the 2011 order of 30 sachets of testosterone gel to the Manchester Velodrome, Freeman also faces action from the U.K. Anti-Doping Agency.

The 18,300-word MPTS ruling issued in Manchester makes clear both the status of Freeman in sport and the magnitude of his offenses.

"The team doctor for a team of elite cyclists and a member of the anti-doping working group, ordered a doping 'drug of choice' for that sport," the ruling said.

"Upon its arrival he was dishonest about why it had been sent, removed it from the Velodrome, and it was never seen again. The tribunal found that Dr. Freeman has been dishonest in its regard ever since."

Freeman had tried to claim the package of the Testogel product was to treat former British Cycling performance director Shane Sutton's erectile dysfunction, but that was denied by the Australian in testimony to the hearing in 2019.

Freeman admitted to 18 of the 22 MPTS charges, including dishonest conduct by giving untrue information to UKAD, while contesting key charges he has been found guilty of about the purpose of the order to the base for both British Cycling and Team Sky.

"Reflecting upon the totality of the evidence, the tribunal has determined that Dr. Freeman placed the order and obtained the Testogel knowing or believing it was to be administered to an athlete to improve their athletic performance," the ruling said.

"Bearing in mind the breadth of Dr. Freeman's dishonesty ... the tribunal found his conduct incapable of innocent explanation," the ruling added.

Freeman was suspended by British Cycling in 2017 and resigned after eight years with the organization, saying he was too ill to face disciplinary action for poor medical record-keeping.

By that time he had been part of great cycling successes at the Olympics where Britain won 12 medals in both the 2012 and 2016 Games, including eight golds in London and six in Rio de Janeiro.

He also held a simultaneous role until 2015 at Team Sky, which produced Britain's first Tour de France champion in 2012 when Bradley Wiggins triumphed.

No riders were named by the tribunal as being involved in doping.

In 2019, Team Sky was renamed after Ineos following a change of ownership from the satellite broadcaster to Jim Ratcliffe, who is the chairman of the chemicals giant.

Information from Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report.