Richard Freeman, the doctor at the centre of the Jiffy-bag controversy involving Team Sky and Bradley Wiggins has finally broken his silence, stating that coaches and performance directors knew that Triamcinolone had been administered. Freeman's revelations came as part of a nine-page statement to the parliamentary Culture, Media and Sport select committee. Freeman was unable to attend a select committee hearing in March, citing ill-health.
While defending his obligations for doctor-patient confidentiality, Freeman claimed that the Jiffy-bag couriered by now Team Wiggins manager Simon Cope to the 2011 Criterium di Dauphine contained the legal decongestant Fluimucil.
Contradicting what had been said in a previous Select Committee hearing, Freeman stated that coaches and performance directors were involved in the decision to treat riders with Triamcinolone even though Shane Sutton had said when questioned that he didn't know anything about it.
"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," Freeman's statement reads.
When Sutton was questioned by the committee in December, he explained that Freeman had told him Wiggins had been 'sorted' on June 12 at the 2011 Dauphine, which Sutton understood the contents in the package had been administered.
Freeman said the Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) system had not been abused in his experience at British Cycling or Team Sky but did not discuss Wiggins' three TUEs for Triamcinolone that were given just before the Tour de France in 2011, 2012 and the Giro d'Italia in 2013. Freeman claimed he only ever personally administered Triamcinolone to one rider at Team Sky and British Cycling – presumably Wiggins. Freeman added that he had only treated one rider at British Cycling and Team Sky with Triamcinolone.
"In the last 7 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," Freeman's statement reveals.
According to the Daily Mail, Damian Collins – the head of Culture, Media and Sport select committee, plans to submit further questions to Freeman about the decision process and responsibility for administering Triamcinolone.
"From Dr Freeman's evidence it seems quite clear that the riders and coaches would have been well aware of the medication and very odd if they were not, so that does cast some doubt over the position of Shane Sutton saying he was not aware of medications, including Triamcinolone."
Collins asked: "If Wiggins was so ill during competition why was he not treated sooner? What was it that he was 'sorted' for? No one has explained what it was."
A nine-page statement
Freeman started his statement by saying that he would "endeavour to provide written answers to the requests that your committee has made to me to the best of my present ability, subject to my professional duties regarding patient confidentiality."
He claimed that huge improvements have been made in the way Team Sky and British Cycling carry out there medical record keeping and medicines management. However black holes remain, especially concerning 2011.
When UK Anti-Doping chief executive Nicole Sapstead gave evidence to the Select Committee, she said there was no evidence to support Freeman’s claim that Wiggins had been given Fluimucil because he had not followed Team Sky protocols of uploading medical records to the Dropbox file-sharing software and had then had his laptop stolen while on holiday in 2014.
UKAD are still investigating an allegation that the Jiffy-bag contained the corticosteroid triamcinolone. Freeman said in his statement that he now regrets not keeping detailed medical records
Freeman explained that he relied on his own note keeping.
"I did not routinely upload these notes to Dropbox which I found difficult to use, having on-going concerns about its security and greater confidence in my own system of note keeping," he writes in his statement.
Collins said in statement Freeman's evidence left "major questions remaining for Team Sky and British Cycling".
"In particular, why were no backup 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?"
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