Dr Richard Freeman’s medical tribunal took another twist on Monday when he was accused of lying and making excuses by professor Steve Peters, under whom he worked at British Cycling.
Freeman, who is facing allegations that he ordered testosterone to dope an unnamed cyclist, had claimed at the weekend that Peters had instructed him to treat non-riders free of charge out of British Cycling supplies – saying it was the norm at the time.
However, in a statement issued by his company, Chip Management, Peters replied: “This is simply untrue. There is no evidence of such an instruction at all.” Peters, who has worked with some of the biggest names in sport including Steven Gerrard and Ronnie O’Sullivan, also took issue with Freeman’s claims that he had not wanted confidential medical information passed on to his GP.
However, Peters said he had not had a GP between 2005 and 2016 and so this was a “false claim”.
Peters, who was medical director at British Cycling until 2014, added: “It is very sad and disappointing that someone whom I have supported through personal troubles for many years should now choose to cast allegations that attempt to undermine me in order, presumably, to make excuses for his actions. Despite this, I hope Richard can soon get through this troubling time.”
Earlier on the fourth day of testimony Freeman admitted that the British Cycling and Team Sky medical department were pursuing marginal gains – but insisted that he never used testosterone to dope a rider.
Freeman said he had been searching for the “holy grail” that would allow riders to recover from hard training quicker, and would track 15-20 specific markers in riders’ blood, including testosterone and iron levels, according to the protocols laid out by cycling’s governing body, the UCI.
“Elite bike riders are hard to break,” Freeman said. “They push their bodies to the limit. They train at altitude, which is horrendous, to help enhance their abilities to perform. At the Tour de France they push themselves so hard they are unable to walk in the evenings and have to spend an hour with their legs on the wall.”
He also accepted that he had used therapeutic use exemption certificates – including the use of the corticosteroid triamcinolone – for a rider with allergies. “I was also aware that in 2010 UK Anti-Doping had granted seven TUEs for allergic rhinitis. That was the background to getting the TUE,” he said.
However when it was suggested by Simon Jackson QC, the counsel for the General Medical Council, that he had gone even further by “microdosing” riders with banned testosterone, Freeman described the suggestion as “offensive”.
“Because I’d suggest you were very much involved in looking for marginal gains through blood testing and using, in your words, the holy grail of markers for under-recovery?” added Jackson.
“I have never doped a rider,” replied Freeman. “I would never consider supplementing testosterone at any time.”
The doctor has accepted 18 of the 22 charges against him from the GMC, including ordering banned Testogel in 2011 and lying to UK Anti-Doping.
However, he denies “knowing or believing it was to be used by an athlete to improve performance”.
Freeman also told the tribunal that he could only remember one rider at British Cycling who had low testosterone, said that he believed he had been made a “scapegoat” for the Jiffy-gate affair – in which a mystery package was delivered to Bradley Wiggins in 2011.
“I did make some medical errors, which I have admitted,” he said. “I don’t think I was the prime target for Jiffy-gate, between Sir Dave Brailsford and Sir Bradley Wiggins, in that respect I have been caught in the middle. I do feel like I have been made a scapegoat.”
The tribunal continues.
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