viernes, 15 de noviembre de 2019

The Big Picture of Sport News: Media, The complex case of Dr Freeman is undermining cycling credibility

Dr Richard Freeman was absent when his medical tribunal hearing began again in Manchester on Thursday, with his lawyer Mary O'Rourke saying her client had "an adverse reaction to what happened here Tuesday," when O'Rourke had a tense exchange with Shane Sutton and he abandoned the hearing after calling Freeman "spineless". 

  • Freeman's legal team has claimed that the Testogel was for Sutton, who allegedly bullied Freeman into ordering the drug for personal use to treat erectile dysfunction. Sutton denied suffering from the condition and hit back when O'Rourke accused him of being a "habitual and serial liar," and "a doper, with a doping history." 
  • O’Rourke said she was very disappointed that Sutton had not returned for further questioning and there was discussion on if Sutton's comments would be struck from the record or retained.
  • "I don’t need to be dragged through this shitfight that this individual is trying to bring on me,” replied Sutton according to The Guardian newspaper. “I was asked to come here and answer whether I ordered Testogel. I did not."
  • The General Medical Council (GMC), that is looking to discipline Freeman for a total of 22 charges including ordering 30 sachets of Testogel testosterone "knowing or believing it was to be administered to an athlete to improve their athletic performance," called Team Ineos consultant psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters as their second witness.
  • Like Sutton and Freeman, Peters worked for both Team Sky and British Cycling for almost a decade including the period when the Testogel was sent to the Manchester velodrome in 2011. Peters is a renowned pyschiatrist and was the former head of medicine at British Cycling and held a similar role at Team Sky. He remains at Team Ineos in a consultancy  role.

Shane Sutton, the former head coach of British Cycling and Team Sky, has refused to return to Dr Richard Freeman’s medical tribunal despite efforts to persuade him to change his mind after he stormed out on Tuesday.

  • Sutton was the General Medical Council’s star witness in its case against Freeman, who faces charges that he ordered the banned substance Testogel in order to dope an unnamed cyclist.
  • Freeman has already accepted 18 of the 22 charges against him, including ordering Testogel, trying to cover his tracks and lying to UK Anti-Doping when questioned about the case.
  • On Tuesday Sutton strenuously denied allegations that he bullied Freeman into ordering the Testogel in 2011 in order to treat his erectile dysfunction, telling O’Rourke: “You are telling the press I can’t get a hard on – my wife wants to testify that you are a bloody liar.”
  • Sutton did not reply when O’Rourke accused him of sending Freeman “some pretty hostile texts”, before reading one out: “Be careful what you say,” it read. “I can drag you in – you won’t be the only person I can hurt.”
  • Sutton addressed Freeman, who was hidden behind a screen while he was giving evidence because he is considered a vulnerable witness. “He was like the Scarlet Pimpernel. I covered his backside while he was there. Two critical cases of athletes ill and we couldn’t get hold of him. If you bring Steve Peters in, he would verify it all.

Dr Steve Peters, a former head of medicine for both organisations, took the stand but failed to provide any answers as to why a drug that is banned in and out of competition was ordered and stored at the facility or for whom it was intended.

  • "I don't know what happened here," Peters said according to the BBC's Dan Roan and the Guardian's Sean Ingle who live-tweeted the hearing. "We've got two men and clearly one of them is lying. There has to be an answer but I'm not in a position to say."
  • The GMC alleges that Freeman ordered the testosterone in order to enhance the performance of an unnamed athlete, but Peters doubted that claim, too, calling the allegation "a leap" by the GMC.
    "If we start speculating, an amazing team who've worked so hard for 20 years have this cloud over them, it seemed so unfair."

British Cycling's former head of medicine has cast doubt on Dr Richard Freeman's claims that testosterone was delivered to its headquarters on behalf of Shane Sutton, a tribunal has heard.

  • Dr Steve Peters told Freeman's fitness to practise hearing that if 30 sachets of Testogel were ordered for Sutton in 2011, he would have known about it. 
  • "It feels like I'm being asked being to solve the crime," Dr Peters said.
    "I have a man who's lied to me, another man who is untrustworthy. It's much more likely [Freeman] has used this for himself and there are reasons for that, which I don't want to go into.
  • Peters, who was at British Cycling until 2014 and was Freeman's boss, said he doubted the General Medical Council's claim that testosterone would be ordered to the National Cycling Centre if it was to be used for doping.
  • During several hours of cross-examination, he revealed the dysfunctional nature of British Cycling at the time and how he did not question why Dr Freeman claimed the testosterone was for Sutton. 
  • During the tribunal, it was also revealed:
    I) How Dr Freeman had been previously diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
    II) How Dr Peter's relationship with Dr Freeman had broken down.
    III) That Viagra was allegedly also part of the Testogel order in 2011. 

British Cycling and Team Sky kept a stock of Viagra for riders in a cabinet because riding for so long gave them “nerve issues”, Dr Richard Freeman’s medical tribunal was told on Thursday.

  • On another day of revelations at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester it was also claimed both organisations put glory before athlete welfare and employed two senior staff members who could not be trusted.
  • Peters denied the Viagra had been for performance reasons. He also revealed that British Cycling had brought back Sutton into the organisation despite serious incidents with riders after the Beijing 2008 Olympics because he was so good at helping the team win medals. “When he was good he was excellent, everyone said that, provided he wasn’t stressed,” Peters said, before describing Sutton’s “aggressive behaviour” and how he would “go on the warpath”.
  • Peters said he was sceptical of the GMC’s case that Freeman had ordered Testogel to dope a rider. “At no time did I see any evidence it was for a rider. That’s a ‘huge leap’.”

Dr Freeman’s QC, Mary O’Rourke, put to Dr Peters: “If it was ordered to dope a rider, that’s not how you would do it unless you were mad.” Dr Peters agreed and also suggested that an athlete using such a patch would quickly fail a doping test.

  • Dr Peters added: “What didn’t make sense is if someone were to cheat they wouldn’t go through the supplier for British Cycling where there’s a paper trail. Initially I thought it must be someone forging his (Dr Freeman’s) signature.”
  • Dr Peters painted a picture of Dr Freeman, who he described as a friend, as a disorganised man who was unable to properly keep records and who found a lot of things hard to cope with.
  • It was revealed that Dr Freeman had previously been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had been admitted to hospital on several occasions, including in 2011 when he was struggling with the break-up of his marriage.
  • Dr Peters did not offer an opinion who he believed was telling the truth out of Sutton and Dr Freeman, saying: “We’ve got two men and clearly one of them is lying. None of it seems to make sense.

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