British Cycling brand Freeman guilty verdict ‘extremely disturbing’

"This is a day for sober reflection," says the governing body

British Cycling has described Dr Richard Freeman being found guilty of ordering testosterone ‘knowing or believing’ it was for performance enhancement as “extremely disturbing”, and that his actions fell “a mile short” of what the governing body expects.

After UK Anti-Doping banned Freeman from all sports following the tribunal’s verdict, British Cycling issued a statement saying it is a day for “sober reflection”.

“The verdict of the panel confirms British Cycling’s own findings that he had failed in his duties as a doctor and supports our decision to refer him to the GMC for further investigation,” British Cycling CEO Brian Facer said in a statement.

“The finding that the 2011 delivery of testosterone gel was intended for the illegal enhancement of a rider’s performance is extremely disturbing. We leave any further action in respect of this to UK Anti-Doping, whose work will have our wholehearted support.

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“This is a day for sober reflection and we know that will be felt by the thousands of people who race their bikes in this country and love our sport, from the Great Britain Cycling Team to the grassroots. We also know that they will share our view that all those who work in our sport must adhere to the highest standards of ethical behaviour.”

British Cycling says that since the end of Freeman’s eight-year employment a number of changes have been made to improve the medical service provided to riders as well as to the organisation’s governance.

These include obtaining CQC status, which means the medical team is held to the same standard as hospitals are, the introduction of a new Code of Conduct for all medical and performance support staff, as well as the establishment of an Integrity Committee.

“The wider actions of Dr Freeman described in the tribunal fall a mile short of the standards we expect,” Facer continued. “Since suspending Dr Freeman from his employment by British Cycling four years ago, we have made substantial changes to the way we provide medical services to riders competing for Great Britain, amid much wider improvements to our governance which we believe now put us at the forefront of our sector.”

The guilty verdict comes almost two years after the tribunal began, having been subject to countless delays, with another hearing scheduled for March 17 to decide if Freeman is struck off as a medical practitioner.

One British MP has also called for Dave Brailsford to be suspended from his role as boss of the Ineos Grenadiers pending a full investigation, while the WorldTour team have distanced themselves from the doctor who was employed by them from 2009 to 2015, saying they don’t believe any athlete ever used or sought to use the banned Testogel that had been ordered.

“The Team fully supports the work of the GMC and 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,” the Ineos statement read.

“However the Team does not believe that any athlete ever used or sought to use Testogel or any other performance-enhancing substance. No evidence has been provided that this ever happened or that there has been any wrongdoing by any athlete at any point.”