Richard Freeman was found to have ordered testosterone "knowing or  believing" it would enhance the performance of the rider ©Getty Images

Former British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman has been found guilty of ordering a banned substance for an unnamed cyclist.

The ruling was made as a long-running medical tribunal reached a verdict today, with the hearing concluding Freeman ordered testosterone "knowing or believing" it would enhance the performance of the rider.

Freeman previously admitted to 18 of the 22 charges brought against him by the General Medical Council, including ordering a shipment of testogel - a substance that is banned both in and out of competition - to British Cycling and Team Sky headquarters in Manchester in 2011.

But he denied the central charge that he placed the order "knowing or believing" the banned substance was intended to be administered to an athlete.

The tribunal hearing started in February 2019 and was expected to last for around two months before being hit by a series of delays.

When handling out today’s ruling, Neil Dalton, chair of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, said: "The tribunal had found that you, Dr Freeman placed the order, and obtained the testogel, knowing or believing it was to be administered to an athlete to improve their athletic performance.

"The motive for your action was to conceal a conduct."

The tribunal is expected to reconvene next week to decide whether Freeman’s "fitness to practise is impaired".

It is then due to meet again in April to consider whether Freeman should lose his doctor’s licence or face any other punishments.

Richard Freeman worked for Team Sky and British Cycling from 2009 to 2017 ©Getty Images
Richard Freeman worked for Team Sky and British Cycling from 2009 to 2017 ©Getty Images

Freeman, who worked for Team Sky and British Cycling between 2009 and 2017, was last month charged with "possession of a prohibited substance" and "tampering or attempted tampering with any part of doping control" by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD).

The latter charge would cover an attempt to subvert any aspect of doping control, including an investigation.

UKAD acknowledged today's ruling and confirmed that it had charged Freeman with two anti-doping rule violations, meaning he is provisionally suspended from all sport.

Freeman has alleged he was bullied into ordering the testosterone by Shane Sutton, the former British Cycling and Team Sky coach, claiming that it was ordered to treat the Australian for erectile dysfunction.

Sutton has denied Freeman’s claims.

Brian Cookson, President of British Cycling from 1996 to 2013, when he became International Cycling Union (UCI) head, claimed to be "tremendously disappointed and saddened at the verdict" announced today.

"I made anti-doping a key focus of my time both with British Cycling and later with the UCI, working closely with the World Anti-Doping Agency and other key partners to ensure robust and independent testing,  transparency and to establish a culture of fair play," Cookson said.

"That this should now be open to question is a matter of extreme concern to me and all of those who work or have worked behind the scenes in our sport, in governance, management, administration and coaching, whether as staff or volunteers.

"I therefore call upon Dr Freeman to fully co-operate with the UK Anti-Doping investigation into this matter and to provide full, frank and honest information to them. 

"If there is anything I can do to assist, I will certainly co-operate fully with UKAD myself, and I also call upon any other person who has evidence on this matter to do the same."

British Cycling enjoyed unprecedented success during the time Freeman worked for the organisation.

Britain won eight of the 18 cycling gold medals on offer at the London 2012 Olympics and backed that up with another six at Rio 2016.

From 2012 to 2017, Team Sky also won the Tour de France five out of six years.