Richard Freeman launching appeal to clear his name after being struck off
Richard Freeman, the former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor found guilty of ordering banned testosterone for an unnamed rider, is to appeal in an effort to clear his name.
The appeal will be lodged at the Manchester high court on Thursday at 12.30pm BST but the hearing, which is expected to last two days, will not take place until November or December.
It is understood that Freeman’s legal team are preparing up to 15 grounds for the appeal, many of them relating to the evidence the former Team Sky and British Cycling technical director Shane Sutton gave to the original tribunal in November 2019.
Freeman’s legal team is seeking the recording of the exchanges at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service between Sutton and Freeman’s lawyer, Mary O’Rourke QC, to demonstrate the manner in which Sutton gave his evidence. During the heated exchanges Sutton said to Freeman: “He’s hiding behind a screen, which is spineless. Richard, you’re a spineless individual.”
They also want to question the medical evidence, the ruling itself, and may also try to reverse the burden of proof applied by the MPTS.
However, the medical defence union, which paid for his defence, has decided not to fund his appeal, so Freeman has retained O’Rourke on a no-win no-fee basis. Her costs will be paid by the General Medical Council if Freeman is successful. Freeman has recruited new solicitors, led by Graham Small and Ian Lewis of JMW.
“Mr Freeman is innocent of wrongdoing and we are confident that the truth will ultimately be recognised by the UK justice system,” Small said.
Freeman, who worked for Team Sky and British Cycling between 2009 and 2017, admitted to 18 charges against him including buying banned testosterone, lying to the UK Anti-Doping Agency and keeping haphazard records.
But in a ruling in March he was found guilty of three more charges relating to the delivery of 30 sachets of Testogel – banned in and out of competition – to British Cycling and Team Sky headquarters in Manchester in May 2011. It is these three charges he is challenging.
On handing down its ruling the tribunal found Freeman’s claims that he had bought the banned drug for Sutton to treat his erectile dysfunction were “implausible”. It also found him guilty of concealing his conduct by orchestrating an elaborate cover-up after buying “a doping ‘drug of choice’ for his sport”.
“Bearing in mind the breadth of Dr Freeman’s dishonesty and the number of people he had pulled into it, the tribunal found his conduct incapable of innocent explanation,” the ruling added. “It was clear that, on the balance of probabilities, the inference could properly be drawn that when Dr Freeman placed the order and obtained the Testogel, he knew or believed it was to be administered to an athlete to improve their athletic performance.”