British Cycling have declined to confirm or deny whether Team Sky physician, doctor Richard Freeman, offered riders Tramadol on the morning of the 2012 World Championships road race. The governing body confirmed Friday that there is an ongoing UKAD investigation, "with which we are cooperating fully", but said they would be "unable to comment further at this stage".
In a BBC exclusive Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, who rode the Worlds for Great Britain in 2012, claimed that he was offered the painkiller from a doctor but that he turned it down. During the BBC interview he did not name the doctor in question but the former Team Sky rider has since told Cyclingnews that it was Dr Richard Freeman, then of Team Sky, and now of British Cycling, who allegedly made the offer.
Tramadol is an opiate. It is not banned in competition, but has been the subject of review by WADA due to concerns over its abuse within professional sport.
Former Team Sky rider, Michael Barry confirmed in his book that he was given the drug by his then team, with the squad adding that it had been "minimally" used. They have since called for it to be banned.
Freeman has been in the news recently due to his role in applying for Bradley Wiggins' TUEs during the Tour de France winner's career. Although Freeman broke no rules in applying to the UCI in order for Wiggins' to receive intramuscular injections of corticosteroids, the story has caused shockwaves with former riders claiming that they used the same drug in question in order to gain a performance enhancement. Wiggins has claimed that the steroid - triamcinolone - was used to treat allergies.
Freeman was also subject to scrutiny in a Daily Mail story on Thursday in which it was alleged that a staff member of British Cycling travelled out to the Criterium du Dauphine in 2011 with the sole purpose of delivering medication to Wiggins.
The report says that Wiggins received a 'private session' in the back of the Team Sky bus just after the race with team doctor Richard Freeman after completing his podium duties on the final day of the 2011 Dauphiné. This was just over two weeks before he was granted the first of his TUEs for triamcinolone.
Tiernan-Locke was not part of Team Sky in 2011, only joining at the start of 2013. However, he has alleged that it was Freeman who offered him Tramadol.
"At the time it was quite prevalent," Teirnan-Locke told Cyclingnews. "In this particular episode I just remember being offered it on the bus. I know that it was a prescription pain killer and had heard of it that season."
On Thursday Cyclingnews understands that British Cycling put the allegation of Tradamdol use, or the use of any other strong pain killer, to the doctor in question, and that he has denied it.
"British Cycling refuting that makes sense," Tiernan Locke said, before using Freeman's name.
"If Richard Freeman was working for Sky but he just had a British Cycling tracksuit on that day and was doing Worlds duties I can understand why they've said it was against their policy or whatever else."
"We've heard from Michael Barry, and that he was given it that year while at Team Sky. It doesn't take a lot to see why British Cycling are denying it."
Tiernan-Locke, who was handed a ban for a biological passport violation in 2013 due to blood value readings before he joined Team Sky, gave his account of the encounter on the bus.
"It was on the day of the race. It was to have during, at some point, in the race. It was on the Sky bus."
When asked what the doctor allegedly said, Tiernan Locke added, "'Do you want anything?' What would you usually have before the race?'
"It was that sort of moment. It was as casually as that really. I can't remember if he said, I've got some Tramadol or do you want some Tramadol. I don't have his exact phrase. We're going back four years. I thought it was slightly odd."
Cyclingnews has since contacted British Cycling. They refused to confirm or deny if the doctor in question was Freeman. Cyclingnews have also asked if Dr Freeman would answer questions directly. No response has yet been issued.
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