Dr Richard Freeman tribunal: What was the outcome and what happens now?

Eleanor Crooks, PA
·3-min read

The long-running hearing into former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman’s fitness to practise medicine finally reached a decision on the contested charges on Friday.

The hearing began more than two years ago, with Dr Freeman admitting 18 of 22 charges regarding the ordering of a package of testosterone to British Cycling headquarters in 2011.

Here, the PA news agency answers the key questions around the case.

Dr Richard Freeman (second left) stands with his defence team outside the building in Manchester where the long-running hearing is taking place
Dr Richard Freeman (second left) stands with his defence team outside the building in Manchester where the long-running hearing is taking place (Eleanor Crooks/PA)

What were the charges?
Dr Freeman admitted lying to colleagues and UK Anti-Doping regarding the ordering of the package as well as other charges regarding his record keeping and the treatment of non-athlete members of staff. The central charge, which he denied, was that he ordered the package “knowing or believing it was to be administered to an athlete to improve their athletic performance”.

What was his defence?
Dr Freeman claimed he was bullied into ordering the Testogel by former performance director Shane Sutton to treat the Australian’s erectile disfunction. This was strenuously denied by Sutton, who called Dr Freeman a liar during a headline-grabbing day of testimony in 2019 before storming out.

Dr Freeman claimed he had ordered the testosterone for former performance director Shane Sutton, pictured
Dr Freeman claimed he had ordered the testosterone for former performance director Shane Sutton, pictured (Martin Rickett/PA)


What did the tribunal conclude?
The tribunal simply did not believe Dr Freeman’s version of events. They described his defence regarding Sutton as “implausible”. There was no smoking gun in terms of evidence Dr Freeman knew or believed the Testogel had been intended for doping purposes but that did not stop the tribunal drawing that conclusion, saying: “The Tribunal found his conduct incapable of innocent explanation.”

What does this mean for cycling?
British Cycling brought the case with the GMC but there is no doubt this is another blow to the already tainted reputation of one of Britain’s recent sporting success stories. A medical tribunal concluding that a prohibited substance was deliberately ordered to British Cycling headquarters for doping purposes raises all manner of questions around who else might have known and who the intended recipient was. While the governing body will no doubt say it is a different organisation to 10 years ago, this verdict drags the murky side of cycling back into the limelight.

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What happens now?
The tribunal will sit again next week to determine what sanctions Dr Freeman will face. He is currently working as a GP but faces the possibility that he will be deemed unfit to practise. Dr Freeman is also facing two charges from UKAD regarding the ordering of the testosterone and is provisionally suspended from working in sport.