Tribunal rules Dr Richard Freeman’s fitness to practise impaired by misconduct

Eleanor Crooks, PA
·2-min read

Former British Cycling and Team Sky chief doctor Richard Freeman’s fitness to practise medicine is impaired, a Medical Practitioners Tribunal has ruled.

Dr Freeman admitted 18 of 22 charges against him at the start of the long-running hearing in 2019 and on Friday was found guilty of all but one, including ordering testosterone to British Cycling headquarters “knowing or believing” that it was to be given to a rider for doping purposes.

Dr Freeman’s QC Mary O’Rourke offered no submissions on his behalf when the hearing resumed on Wednesday and, after a day’s deliberation, the tribunal gave their verdict on his fitness to practise.

Dr Richard Freeman, second left, and Mary O'Rourke QC, left
Dr Richard Freeman, second left, accompanied by Mary O’Rourke QC, left, and his defence team (Eleanor Crooks/PA)

The conclusion read: “The Tribunal bore in mind that Dr 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 Dr Freeman’s fitness to practise is impaired by reason of his misconduct.”

Dr Freeman had claimed that he ordered Testogel in 2011 to treat former performance director Shane Sutton’s erectile dysfunction.

That was strenuously denied by the Australian and dismissed by the tribunal as being untruthful.

“The Tribunal considered that Dr Freeman’s conduct surrounding the order of the Testogel amounted to a long and considered pattern of very serious dishonesty,” the impairment ruling continued.

“In the course of that dishonesty… Dr Freeman abused the professional trust of colleagues and friends, publicly traduced the reputation of another professional (Mr Sutton), and deliberately misled UKAD (UK Anti-Doping), among other matters.

Shane Sutton
The ruling stated Dr Freeman ‘traduced the reputation of’ Shane Sutton, pictured (Martin Rickett/PA)

“His dishonesty continued up to and during the hearing itself. This, too, was serious misconduct.”

Dr Freeman admitted poor conduct regarding his record keeping and inappropriate treatment of non-riders, and the tribunal considered his behaviour in relation to clinical concerns and record management was remediable.

But his ordering of the Testogel, and the pattern of lying that followed, the tribunal considered particularly egregious.

“While noting that Dr Freeman had made admissions to some of the dishonesty, and had offered written reflections in these regards, The Tribunal considered that the purpose of these admissions were to enable him to continue to perpetuate the bigger deception which continued into this hearing,” the tribunal said.

“For these reasons, the Tribunal determined there remained a risk of further such behaviour by Dr Freeman.

“In all the circumstances, the Tribunal determined that Dr Freeman’s actions would be considered as deplorable by members of the public and fellow practitioners.

“The Tribunal concluded that Dr Freeman’s actions were sufficient to amount to serious misconduct.”