Dr Richard Freeman’s lawyer demands newspaper hands over Sutton affidavit

Sean Ingle
The Guardian
<span>Photograph: Eleanor Crooks/PA</span>
Photograph: Eleanor Crooks/PA

Dr Richard Freeman’s medical tribunal took an extraordinary twist on Friday when his lawyer made a legal request to the Daily Mail to hand over a secret affidavit from Shane Sutton, the former head coach of British Cycling and Team Sky, that she claimed was “totally inconsistent” with evidence Sutton had given to a parliamentary inquiry into doping in sport.

Mary O’Rourke, the QC acting for Freeman, said the affidavit was held in the managing editor of the newspaper’s safe as “an insurance policy against any potential claims for defamation by Sir Bradley Wiggins, Freeman or Sir Dave Brailsford” and that it contained “a number of lies”. Sutton had also been Wiggins’ personal coach, a key cog in his Tour de France victory in 2012, before the two men fell out.

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Related: Former Team Sky doctor’s QC to question credibility of head coach

“The statement came into existence in or around September or October 2016 and it is a statement made by Mr Sutton for the purposes of supporting a story run by the Daily Mail and its then chief sports correspondent Matt Lawton,” O’Rourke added. “Its relation to this proceeding is in fact it contains a number of lies. It is totally inconsistent with evidence Mr Sutton subsequently gave to the DCMS inquiry in parliament where he will have given evidence under the position of being on oath.”

The Medical Tribunal Practitioners Service in Manchester then heard Simon Jackson QC outline the General Medical Council’s case against Freeman who, he said, had “lied and been evasive” at every stage of an investigation into an order of 30 sachets of the banned drug Testogel. Jackson said Freeman had acquired the Testogel not to treat Sutton’s erectile dysfunction, as he had claimed, but to give microdoses of testosterone to an unnamed cyclist. “Testogel was used not for clinical or therapeutic use but for prohibited use – namely microdosing as a way of improving an athlete’s performance,” he added.

Jackson then explained how Freeman had tried to cover his tracks when the order of Testogel was discovered in a package opened by the British Cycling physiotherapist Phil Burt in 2011. Burt immediately took the package to Dr Steve Peters, the head of medicine at British Cycling, who was in his office with Freeman. Jackson said that when an “aghast” Freeman saw the Testogel he exclaimed: “No, we shouldn’t have this. This is a mistake!” and said it had been sent in error.

Jackson claimed that Freeman then applied “soft pressure” to Trish Meats, the office manager at the Oldham-based supplement company Fit4Sport, to get her to write an email saying the Testogel had been ordered in error - even though he knew that was a lie.

The tribunal also heard Freeman’s methods could be haphazard and he would leave his office door open – even though there would be antibiotics and corticosteroids lying on his desk.

Jackson said: “At every stage from 2011 to the present, Dr Freeman has lied, been dishonest and given evasive answers about the Testogel. He has involved others in his scheme of deceit. First he tried to get Fit4Sport to lie for him. Second he asked his distinguished colleague Steve Peters to repeat that lie to the press. Then when he had run out of excuses he then named Shane Sutton as the recipient of the Testogel.

“However Mr Sutton’s medical records do not support a diagnosis for which testosterone was needed.”

The tribunal continues on Monday.

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