Doctor Richard Freeman’s response in the Team Sky/British Cycling controversy “leaves major questions outstanding,” says Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport select committee.
Freeman, who missed his committee hearing date on March 1 due to health reasons, responded in a nine-page letter to the select committee.
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“Once again, this new evidence leaves major questions outstanding for Team Sky and British Cycling,” said Damian Collins MP, Chair of the Committee.
“In particular, why were no back up medical records kept for Bradley Wiggins in 2011, beyond those on Dr Freeman’s laptop computer? Why were there not more formal protocols enforced on recording keeping, and whose responsibility was it to make sure that Team Sky’s own stated policies were being enforced.”
Freeman told the committee that he would be available for future hearings when his health improves.
“I did not routinely upload these notes [medical records] to Dropbox which I found difficult to use, having ongoing concerns about its security and greater confidence in my own system of note keeping,” he wrote.
“The present system of medical record keeping and medicines management is a massive improvement to that which existed in 2011. I accept that it would have been desirable to have backed up my clinical records, whatever system was used. I regret not doing this.”
Today, Freeman said that the teams use a “commercial secure and backed up record keeping systems”.
Watch: UKAD’s Nicole Sapstead gives evidence to select committee
The jiffy bag or package sent to the Critérium du Dauphiné‘s final stage at the La Toussuire ski resort, from England to France via Simon Cope, contained “only Fluimucil.” Freeman ordered the decongestant medicine to avoid buying it abroad.
“The Dauphiné in 2011 was also unique for me, as a high altitude training camp followed immediately after the race without the opportunity to return to my place of work to re‐stock. I wanted to ensure I had enough supplies of medication if required at that training camp, having used up some of my present stock during the race,” he explained.
“My request made to Shane Sutton a day or two before the end of the Dauphiné 2011 was set against this background. I do not believe Fluimucil nebuliser solution was then available in France, by contrast to the powder version to be made up with water as a drink for oral ingestion, which I do not believe to be particularly effective.”
Team Sky admitted that it once bought Fluimucil from a pharmacy in Yverdon, Switzerland in April 2011 – which only would have been a three-hour drive from La Toussuire.
“I have not brought any medication from the pharmacy before or since,” Freeman said of the April 11 purchase. “During the Dauphiné in June 2011, we were running low on Fluimucil during the Dauphiné, my first thought was of the supply I had in Manchester, and that the Team would be able to access that supply quickly. It did not occur to me to travel to Switzerland.”
The Sky and British Cycling storm brewed with the Russian hacker group Fancy Bears’ leak of medial information about Olympic athletes last summer. It revealed that Bradley Wiggins‘s triamcinolone injections before important stage races. The UCI approved Wiggins to inject the corticosteroid prior to the 2011 and 2012 editions of the Tour, and the 2013 Giro d’Italia.
“I am not, and have not been concerned that the TUE process is abused by athletes, in relation to my clinical experience and practice,” Freeman said.
“Medicines are always prescribed for clinical need. Triamcinolone is an anti‐inflammatory glucocorticoid steroid injection in frequent use in medical practice for a variety of medical conditions.
“I have only ever personally administered triamcinolone to one rider at Team Sky and British Cycling. In the last seven years, I’m aware of only a handful of riders in either team being referred to hospital for image guided triamcinolone injection for clinical need, with none needing a TUE.
“Coaches and Performance Directors were involved in the process. The ethics of this treatment was discussed. No concerns were raised with me about this treatment. Use of triamcinolone is very infrequent in these teams but my obligation to doctor/patient confidentiality does not allow me to explain further.”
There is no suggestion that Team Sky, British Cycling or Bradley Wiggins have broken any anti-doping rules.