Monday 23 July 2018

Ex-Team Sky doctor had 'suicidal thoughts' amid jiffy bag furore

Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman. Photo: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman. Photo: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

The former Team Sky doctor at the centre of the "jiffy bag" affair said he was suffering from a "major depressive illness" before withdrawing from giving evidence to MPs investigating doping in sport.

Richard Freeman did not appear at the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee last year, citing ill health, after being summoned over his involvement in a package given to Sir Bradley Wiggins after the Criterium du Dauphine race in 2011.

He replied in writing, but did not appear in person before the parliamentary inquiry.

The UK Anti-Doping Agency (UKAD) spent 14 months investigating allegations that the package contained a banned corticosteroid, triamcinolone.

In November 2017 it closed its investigation of the matter, saying it was unable to prove or disprove that it contained a banned substance because of missing medical reports.

The DCMS report concluded in March that Team Sky had "crossed an ethical line" in their use of the powerful drug.

Wiggins, Dr Freeman and Team Sky have all categorically denied cheating and insist the package contained a legal decongestant.

Now in an interview with BBC Sport, Dr Freeman reiterated neither he, the 2012 Tour de France winner or Team Sky ever "crossed the line".

Asked if he ever "flirted with the line" or sat in a "grey area that falls somewhere between the rules and cheating", he replied: "Never."

Dr Freeman, who also resigned as British Cycling's head doctor last year, explained he did not appear at the select committee in person due to a "breakdown" brought on by the investigations by UKAD and DCMS.

He told the broadcaster: "I went down to the select committee the day before, but that's when unfortunately I had a breakdown and it was the final straw.

"I found the investigation, initially by the newspapers and then by UKAD, very stressful. I suffered from a major depressive illness.

"You lose all your energy for life, you can't sleep, you feel helpless, hopeless, worthless, guilty about all sorts of things... you can have suicidal thoughts."

Asked if he had had suicidal thoughts, Dr Freeman replied: "Yes."

Team Sky told BBC Sport: "These historical matters from 2011 have been the subject of extensive scrutiny and we have nothing further to add. All of our focus is on the Tour de France, which starts on 7 July."

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