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Freeman charged by UK Anti-Doping with two violations, faces four-year ban

A portrait of Richard Freeman, a member of the Great Britain Olympic Cycling team, during the Team GB Kitting Out ahead of Rio 2016 Olympic Games on July 13, 2016 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Two new charges of anti-doping rule violations have been brought against the former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman on the final day of submissions of a separate medical tribunal

UK Anti-Doping has charged Freeman with "possession of a prohibited substance" and "tampering or attempted tampering with any part of doping control", it was reported today by the the Times and BBC Sport. It was also reported that Freeman has contested a portion of the charges, with a request for a hearing. Ukad refused to comment on the investigation. 

The charges relate to Freeman ordering the banned drug testosterone and its delivery to the Manchester headquarters of Team Sky and British Cycling in 2011.

According to the Times, Freeman has denied the first of the two charges but has admitted to lying to UKad investigators, which amounts to tampering with an anti-doping investigation. In 2017 Freeman told UKad investigators that he had returned the testosterone to British Cycling’s medical supplier. In the hearing he claimed he took it home and emptied the sachets down a sink.

In his main witness statement to the MPTS medical tribunal Freeman admitted: “Once the Ukad investigation started, it seemed to me too late to stop the train from running, and accordingly during my Ukad interview I found myself misleading the investigators.” 

At the end of January, the General Medical Council summed up its case in a fitness to practice hearing, and this week the proceedings continued in the ‘facts’ stage of the process, reaching a two-year mark. Having started out in February 2019, the fit-for-practice hearing centres on testosterone gels ordered to the national velodrome by Freeman.

At the time of the delivery, in June 2011, an eight-year statute of limitations was in place, but the new 10-year limit, imposed in 2015, is understood to now apply. 

Freeman has accepted 18 of the 22 original allegations brought by the GMC, but is disputing the four charges relating to the testosterone gels, claiming he ordered them to the treat erectile dysfunction of former head coach Shane Sutton and not provide to an athlete to boost performance. Sutton has denied the accusations.

UK Anti-Doping, which first heard about the testosterone delivery and forwarded evidence to the GMC, has been poised to take action if the GMC was able to substantiate the key allegation that Freeman ordered the banned substance "knowing or believing" it was to be administered to a rider. 

Freeman resigned from British Cycling in 2017, but was charged by the GMC two years later. Under the statute of limitations, UK Anti-Doping had until May this year to charge Freeman.

The hearing has been expected to conclude in May 2021. BBC Sport noted that Freeman could face a ban from sport for four years if he is found guilty by an independent National Anti-Doping Panel.