Chris Froome suggests Shane Sutton disliked him due to internal rivalry with Bradley Wiggins

Richard Freeman’s medical tribunal previously heard evidence around how Sutton raised concerns about Froome’s relationship with his coach in 2012  

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Chris Froome has suggested Shane Sutton didn’t like him due to an internal rivalry with Bradley Wiggins. 

The four-time Tour de France winner has shared a brief response after the medical tribunal of former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman came to a decision last week.  

During Freeman’s hearing, the tribunal heard that Shane Sutton raised concerns about Froome’s relationship with his coach in 2012. 

Sutton, who was then head coach at Team Sky, had concerns about Froome’s relationship with former Team Sky coach Bobby Julich - a former team-mate of Lance Armstrong who has admitted using EPO during his career. 

After the Freeman hearing came to a close on Friday (March 12), Froome said there was no follow-up to Sutton’s claims and that Team Sky riders were always subject to internal reviews of their data. 

Speaking with the Mail on Sunday, Froome said: “I am not aware of any specific follow-ups, but all the riders on Team Sky were subject to internal reviews of their data on an ongoing basis.

"I had very little contact with Shane Sutton as he was Brad’s coach. I know Shane wasn’t especially fond of me, particularly at that time. There was an element of internal rivalry as I was challenging for leadership of the team over the rider he coached."

In November last year the Freeman medical tribunal, which was investigating claims Dr Richard Freeman ordered testosterone patches to be administered to an athlete, heard evidence around Team Sky’s major anti-doping shake-up in 2012.   

In 2012 Team Sky wanted to address potential links to doping within the team, which caused team boss Sir Dave Brailsford and Dr Steve Peters to carry out interviews with staff.  

Staff were also asked to sign a declaration that they had not been involved in doping, with anyone confessing to using performance enhancing drugs being asked to leave the team. 

The process resulted in the departure of key team staff like Steven De Jongh and coach Bobby Julich. 

Sutton, who was then working as Brailsford’s deputy, was also interviewed as part of the process. 

>>> British Cycling brand Freeman guilty verdict ‘extremely disturbing’ 

During Dr Richard Freeman’s medical tribunal hearing the barrister for Freeman Mary O’Rourke QC gave details of Sutton’s interview.

When asked in the interview if he had ever been involved in doping, Sutton said no. 

Sutton was then invited to share any other concerns he had about doping in the team with Brailsford and Peters, with the Australian then referencing Froome “going to Italy on a motorbike” and his relationship with Julich, who Froome had sought advice from to improve his time trialling. 

There was no further detail and no suggestion that Froome had been involved in any doping. 

Sutton’s concerns are believed to have been investigated at the time, but no evidence of wrongdoing was found.  

Last week, Freeman was found guilty of ordering banned testosterone while “knowing or believing” it would be administered to an unnamed rider for performance enhancement. 

>>> Bradley Wiggins: ‘Freeman case stinks to high heaven’ 

Freeman had claimed he was bullied into ordering Testogel by Shane Sutton to treat the latter’s erectile dysfunction, but these claims were denied by Sutton.  

Ineos Grenadiers, formerly Team Sky, responded to the decision, saying “ it is very clear from their report that Richard Freeman fell short of the ethical standards required of him as a doctor and acted dishonestly.”

But the team said they do not believe that any athlete ever used or intended to use testosterone and that the tribunal did not hear any evidence that supported this claim. 

The hearing will resume on March 17 where the tribunal will decide if Freeman’s “fitness to practice is impaired”.