The owner of Ineos Sir Jim Ratcliffe has said he “fully supports” team principal Dave Brailsford after the Richard Freeman scandal.
Sir Dave Brailsford, former performance director at British Cycling and now team principal at Ineos Grenadiers, has yet to respond publicly to the Freeman decision, but the team has said they do not believe there was any evidence to suggest the testosterone was given to an athlete to enhance their performance.
Ratcliffe, the owner of petrochemical company Ineos, has now publicly backed Brailsford in an interview with The Telegraph newspaper.
The billionaire businessman, the richest man in Britain, said: “[Brailsford] has my full support. Unless something came up that I was shocked by, he will continue to have my full support.”
On the Freeman scandal, Ratcliffe added: “This happened what, 10 years ago?”
“My principal concern is where we are now and how we conduct ourselves now.”
Earlier this month, Freeman was found guilty on 21 of 22 charges relating to a delivery of banned substance testosterone, which Freeman ordered “knowing or believing” it was to be given to a rider to dope.
The tribunal then permanently struck Freeman off the medical register.
Freeman’s Medical Practitioners Tribunal hearing, held in Manchester, centred around allegations Freeman ordered 30 testosterone sachets, which were delivered to British Cycling headquarters in Manchester in 2011, and then lied to cover up the order.
He had admitted 18 of the charges against him, but denied that the substance was ordered for an athlete to dope, instead claiming he was “bullied” into ordering the testosterone by Shane Sutton to treat Sutton’s erectile dysfunction – Sutton denied this.
But the tribunal found that Freeman had ordered the testosterone for an athlete and that his “fitness to practise is impaired by reason of misconduct.”
Freeman has also been charged by UK Anti-Doping with two violations of anti-doping rules – possession of a banned substance and tampering or attempting to tamper with any part of doping control.
Brailsford has yet to respond to the Freeman scandal, but after the decision his team released a statement saying the doctor had “fallen short of the ethical standards required of him as a doctor,” but said they did not believe there was evidence to support the finding that any athlete used Testogel or any other performance enhancing substances.
In 2019, as Ineos took over from Sky as the headline sponsor of the British WorldTour squad, Ratcliffe said he would pull the sponsorship if there was any evidence that his team was not a clean cycling operation.
Reflecting on his words in the wake of the Freeman scandal, Ratcliffe said: “I was very clear, right from the beginning, that if there was ever any sense of that going on in our team, I'd walk away from it immediately. And nothing's changed in that regard.”
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