The former physician was convicted on Friday of ordering a banned drug for some of Britain’s most successful cyclists and teams that he knew would be used to enhance the rider’s performance.
The ruling, a surprise end to one of the highest-profile doping cases in cycling since Lance Armstrong’s drug scandal, nearly destroyed the credibility of the game nearly a decade ago, raising new doubts about successes, and the world. The methods of some of the top cyclists over the past decade.
Doctor Richard Freeman worked for the Tour de France winning team Sky and the British Cycling Federation, which oversees the country’s Olympic program. He was convicted in 2011 of the UK Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service of Testosterone, a steroid, for an unnamed rider. The tribunal said Freeman did so because the drug “knowing or believing” would be used to help the rider or his team win.
The tribunal also said that from 2010 to 2016, Team Sky’s head doctor, Freeman, expressed a series of lies to cover the purchase of the drug and its intended use.
The case was drawn up for two years and it is raising serious questions about Team Sky, which is now called Inios grenadiers, Which is one of the most prominent teams in cycling history and includes champion riders like Chris Frome and Bradley Wiggins.
Now surrounded by allegations of doping, the team has been compared to Armstrong’s United States Postal Service team, because of its success internationally because of its streak and the depth of the top riders on its roster – but also because of these methods Due to constant suspicion they may get fuel. .
“It was found that the delivery of testosterone gel in 2011 was to illegally enhance a rider’s performance,” said Brian Feser, the chief executive of British Cycling. Said in a statement. Feser said the organization would leave any “further action” related to the case in the hands of anti-British officials, “whose work would get our full support.”
Freeman was a fixture around British cycling teams for years as the country and its riders reached the pinnacle of the sport. He worked for British Cycling from 2010 to 2017, and was part of a concerted effort by the organization to invest in the sport before the UK hosted the 2012 London Olympics.
That investment paid off: British riders Led the medal count in cycling in LondonWith 12 medals including eight golds – twice the total number won by Germany, the team ranked second in the cycling medal table. It repeated its success at the 2016 Rio Games, winning a dozen medals, including six golds.
In 2012, a year after Freeman was accused of receiving a shipment of testosterone, Team Sky won its first Tour de France, with Wiggins triumphantly riding Champs-Alessis in Paris as his teammates surrounded him Celebrated The scene would become almost an annual event: from 2012 to 2019, the British team won the Tour seven times in eight years. Fromm topped the podium four times.
Credit for the success of British teams and British riders in major international competitions With the cycling boom starting in England. But as is often the case in sports, the team’s dominance also raised doubts as to how its riders became so good and so fast. In Team Sky’s case, speculation about the squad’s possible drug use came back with some evidence.
In this latest case, Freeman, who was lying to British antidoping officials about getting testosterone and about it, initially stated that he had not ordered the drug and that the company had made a mistake in sending it to the team. He then ordered it to be accepted, but claimed that he had been instigated to do so by British cycling and Team Sky coach Shane Sutton, whom he said Freeman sought to obtain medication to treat his erectile dysfunction. Was demanded.
The tribunal called Freeman’s claim “an elaborate lie”, although doctors claim its veracity.
Sutton strongly refutes Freeman’s claim. In a statement to The Daily Mail on Friday, he said that he is disappointed that Freeman used him as a scapegoat.
“I would like to stress that neither I nor Sir Dave Brilsford knew about the testosterone order,” said Sutton, longtime manager of Team Sky and former performance director at British Cycling. “But I think it’s important to find out who the doctor ordered for. Hopefully, the UK will come out of the investigation by anti-doping.”
UK anti-doping, which oversees antidoping in Britain, announced on Friday that it accused Freeman of possessing a banned substance and tampering with or tampering with doping controls. The agency said in a statement, Freeman has been suspended pending an investigation.
That investigation is expected to delay Team Sky’s possible use of testosterone, which the tribunal called a “drug of choice” on Friday. The drug has been used in cycling for decades, in forms such as injections, pills, creams and gels, to enhance recovery, and has been banned as a performance-enhancing substance for a long time.
Testosterone is helpful for riders to bounce back from grueling efforts, however, some people use it despite the risk of a positive test. Floyd Landis used it to help him win the 2006 Tour de France, but he later tested positive for it and was stripped of the win.
Testosterone Drugs is the only one of the team Sky riders have been accused of using to enhance their performance. In 2016, Russian hackers broke a world anti-doping agency system, which tracks the approved use of banned drugs by athletes, called therapeutic drug waivers; Hack revealed that both Wiggins and Frome had used drugs, including corticosteroids, during the race for Team Sky.
A subsequent British Parliamentary Committee report suggested that Wiggins used potent corticosteroids for medical reasons in his 2012 tour victory (he claimed it was for asthma), but due to his power-to-weight ratio To improve. A lightweight yet strong rider will have an easier time racing the steep mountains than a heavy one. Wiggins Denied that he used the drug to aid his performance, And he has spent years explaining those and other doping allegations.
In 2016, UK anti-doping began an investigation into a package distributed to Team Sky, bound for Vignan in the weeks before Wiggins’ win, which he won at the Tour de France of the Summer. But the agency could not prove the contents of that package, partly because Freeman claimed that his laptop was on leave with the team’s medical records.
Britain’s anti-doping refusal to discuss Friday’s search against Freeman, as it accepted the decision.
“We do not intend to make any further comment,” the agency said in a statement.