Wednesday 22 November 2017

Freeman: I didn't keep proper medical records as I didn't trust the software

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

Ian Herbert

Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman has insisted that he did not upload the medical records of Bradley Wiggins and others to a central file-sharing system because he did not consider it secure enough.

A UK parliamentary inquiry into doping in sport has heard that Wiggins' records have been lost because Freeman kept all such data on a laptop which was lost when he was on holiday in Greece in 2014.

Freeman has declined to appear before the culture, media and sport select committee through ill-health but in a written submission he has stood by his decision not to adhere to Team Sky's Dropbox system.

"I found (Dropbox) difficult to use, having on-going concerns about its security and greater confidence in my own system of note keeping," Freeman said in a submission which stated that he had been instrumental in setting up the use of the software to create a central store of medical records.

Freeman said he had instead relied on "note-keeping" though the committee inquiry has located no evidence of any pen and paper records he kept. There is no explanation of why the failure to upload went on for three years without anyone noticing.

He also insisted that the contents of a mystery Jiffy Bag, delivered at his request at the end of the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine, was the nebuliser Fluimucil, which he asked an experienced coach to deliver having overlooked the fact that he could have purchased it over the counter at a nearby chemist in Switzerland.

"It did not occur to me to travel to Switzerland," he said. "Only Fluimucil was contained in the package sent." 

Read more: 'As Roy Keane would say: it’s utter nonsense' - Bradley Wiggins in feisty mood as he bites back at critics

The doctor, who faces a possible General Medical Council inquiry for failing to maintain a record of unlicensed corticosteroid triamcinolone prescribed to Wiggins, paints a picture of a life in which he was rushed off his feet, on call at all hours of day and night.

He implies that this pressure contributed to him asking coach to bring out the Jiffy Bag package, rather than buy the medication over the counter.

"For all doctors it is always difficult to know how much medicines and wound dressings to take, especially in a stage race lasting a week," Freeman writes.

"2011 was unique, as a training camp followed after the race without the opportunity to return to my place of work to re-stock. I wanted to ensure I'd enough supplies of medication if required at that camp, having used up some of my stock during the race.

"There is immense time pressure on the team members, riders and staff. The doctor's day usually starts at 6am with a rider doping control, often having been disturbed in the night to attend to illness or the symptoms of recent injury."

He insisted he had only administered the powerful drug triamcinolone, which brings weight loss, to one rider at Team Sky and British Cycling and in the last seven years had been aware of only a handful of riders in either team needing it.

Patient confidentiality prevented him saying who, he said. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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