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Destroyed laptop, Viagra and an Australian connection: Explosive testimony in doctor’s tribunal hearing

After a 10-month adjournment in his tribunal, he finally took to the witness box for the first time on Tuesday. His testimony was predictably explosive.

Simon Jackson QC, representing the GMC, asked Freeman repeatedly about a laptop that he suggested might contain crucial medical data pertaining to his investigation. Jackson said the laptop was given to Freeman “in full working order” by British Cycling in 2017.

But two years later, when it was taken for analysis by an independent forensic expert as part of the GMC’s initial investigation, he said it had been destroyed.

“You’d taken a screwdriver or some other blunt instrument to it, hadn’t you?” he asked Freeman. “Yes,” the doctor said.

Freeman said that the laptop had been given to him by British Cycling as a “temporary fix” to replace one that was allegedly stolen in Greece and that UK Anti-Doping tried to get its hands on as part of a separate doping investigation three years ago.

He added that it had already been analysed by UKAD and “was returned to me as being of no further interest to UKAD or BC”.

However, he said it had a faulty touchpad and keyboard so he decided to destroy it. He said that he chose not to recycle it as he had watched “a program about how people in India can access data on [recycled] laptops”.

Asked whether he had backed up the contents of the laptop, he said he “thought that he had”, and also that he thought British Cycling and UKAD might have done so. But he conceded that he had not checked.

In a tense exchange, Jackson asked: “Considering the importance of all this, wouldn’t it have been prudent to check before taking a screwdriver or other blunt instrument to it?”

“Yes,” Freeman replied.

“Unless you didn’t want people to know what was on it?” Jackson pressed.

“I wasn’t trying to hide anything,” Freeman said.

Freeman was also asked extensively about the build-up to his order of Testogel in 2011. Freeman admits that he ordered 30 sachets from an independent supplier in Oldham and then lied about it when he was discovered.

But he said he did so because he was “bullied” into doing so by Shane Sutton, the former head coach, to treat Sutton’s alleged erectile dysfunction.

Sutton denies that he has ever suffered from that condition. The Australian stormed out of the hearing last November after angrily denying claims from Mary O’Rourke QC, Freeman’s lawyer, that he was a “serial liar”, a “bully” and a “doper with a doping history”.

The tribunal heard on Tuesday that Freeman started prescribing Viagra and Cialis – a drug that can be used to treat erectile dysfunction – to Sutton in 2010 without going through “the proper diagnostic hoops”.

“I didn’t examine his testicles, take his blood pressure, check his cholesterol,” Freeman said.

Jackson asked: “So you abandoned all your medical training because you felt unable to say ‘no’ to him?”

“Yes,” Freeman replied.

When Sutton asked for Testogel, Freeman said he initially balked as it was “outside my area of expertise”.

“But you ordered it anyway?” Jackson asked.

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“That was later after much rumination and fear about the consequences of not getting it [for him],” Freeman said.

Freeman’s witness statement says that he wanted to tell the truth before he did but that he had a “fear of violence”.

Freeman added that his mental health spiralled after the Fancy Bears leak in 2016, when it was revealed by Russian hackers that he had helped to secure therapeutic-use exemptions for Sir Bradley Wiggins, and the “Jiffy bag” scandal later that same year that concerned a mystery package delivered to Wiggins at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine.

It was these revelations that led to Freeman’s summons to the DCMS inquiry into doping in 2017.

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“I was in a terrible place,” said Freeman, who is now practising as a general practitioner in East Lancashire. “I’d been signed off sick [by British Cycling]. I had no GP work. I was very much on my own. I was living alone. I started drinking again, taking medication. I was on a slippery slope.

“I went down to see James Murdoch and Team Sky with Mr [Simon] Eastwood [his lawyer] to be briefed at an imposing building at Canary Wharf.

“I was in a room with as many people as this. Mike Morgan was there – who is a big person in sports law – and Rupert Murdoch’s lawyer was over from Australia. It was very tense, pressurised.

“They wanted to know how I would answer certain questions. I broke down in tears and couldn’t go on. Mr Eastwood stopped the session. I never went back. I wrote to Mr Collins [Damian Collins, the select committee chairman] to say I would answer questions in writing.”

Freeman will return to the witness box on Wednesday morning. The hearing is scheduled to finish by November 26.

The Telegraph, London

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