Two-year tribunal for Dr Richard Freeman leaves unanswered questions

Ian Parker, PA
·2-min read

In the controversies that have dogged British Cycling and what was formerly Team Sky in recent years, Dr Richard Freeman has been a near-constant presence.

It was Freeman who applied for the much-debated therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) granted to Bradley Wiggins for the powerful anti-inflammatory drug triamcinolone before the 2011 and 2012 editions of the Tour de France and the 2013 Giro d’Italia.

It was Freeman who took delivery of the mystery jiffy bag at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine, the contents of which remain unconfirmed despite a UK Anti-Doping investigation which lasted 14 months.

And now it is Freeman, 61, who has been found guilty of ordering testosterone in 2011 “knowing or believing” it was to help dope a rider – the most damning entry yet.

Dr Richard Freeman
Dr Richard Freeman pictured at a hearing of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) in Manchester.

When Freeman joined British Cycling and the still nascent Team Sky in 2009, his appointment was part of a move – later ditched – to hire doctors from outside cycling in a bid to avoid ethical dilemmas in a sport with a chequered history. So much for that.

Freeman, raised in Manchester, qualified as a doctor in 1984 and worked as a GP for six years before moving into sport, working in golf with the European Tour, the World Rally Championships, and in football with Burnley before joining Bolton in 2001.

Freeman spent eight years with the Wanderers during some of the club’s most successful years before getting the call from the National Cycling Centre.

More success followed there. Team Sky’s run of dominance at the Tour de France began with Wiggins’ victory in 2012, while Freeman was the head doctor for British Cycling as gold medals piled up at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

But months after Rio came the ‘Fancy Bears’ hack revealing those TUEs. Weeks later the Jiffygate story broke, and in early 2017 came the revelation that Testogel had been delivered to the velodrome.

Since then there have been stories of laptops stolen or destroyed, records lost, and claims of bullying as Freeman has dealt with well-documented mental health issues which have contributed to a tribunal lasting more than two years.

Now we finally have an answer, it is one that only begs a thousand more questions.