Dr Richard Freeman, the former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor, told his fitness to practice hearing he had “never, ever taken any undue risks with a rider” and one had “never come across any harm” as a result of his care.
Freeman has admitted 18 of the 22 charges against him, which include ordering 30 sachets of testosterone gels to the Manchester Velodrome nine years ago and lying to British Cycling and UK Anti-Doping about it. However he denies the General Medical Council’s central charge of “knowing or believing” the Testogel was to be administered to a rider to aid their performance.
While Freeman said the nature of elite sport means pushing the boundaries occasionally is a necessity, he told a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service hearing that a rider’s safety was always of paramount importance to him.
“My job is to protect the health of the riders even against themselves,” he said. “We do have to take risks because these are elite sportsmen, there’s no time to sit down if they have asthma or something. They all want to win but it’s not at all costs. You have to take a risk/benefit analysis, this is elite sport.
“I would never, ever take risks or put a rider at serious harm’s way and I have to be prepared to fall on my sword and if senior management sack me then so be it. I have never, ever taken any undue risks with a rider and they have never come across any harm because of my care. I will stand to that until my last breath.”
Freeman contends he was bullied into ordering the Testogel by the former British Cycling and Team Sky technical director Shane Sutton to treat erectile disfunction, with both claims strenuously denied by the Australian.
Freeman said he finds Sutton “intimidating and frightening even now” as his cross-examination entered its seventh week, with the medic answering questions from his QC Mary O’Rourke for the first time on Tuesday. Up until now, Freeman has been responding to the GMC’s QC Simon Jackson as a cross-examination that was expected to last five days was heard over six weeks.
“I’m here to assist the tribunal and tell the truth,” Freeman said. “I was never told how long it was going to be. So many times I felt ambushed and unprepared. I have found that pressure very difficult. I’m not impatient but I have thought: ‘Let’s move on.’ Sometimes I felt I could have done better [when responding to Mr Jackson]. But I was determined to finish.”
Asked whether he thought he could have provided better answers if the cross-examination was across a shorter timeframe, he added: “I think I would have given much better evidence and it would have been a much fairer hearing.”