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Dave Brailsford should be suspended by Ineos, says MP and member of DCMS

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Sir Dave Brailsford — Dave Brailsford should be suspended by Ineos, says MP and member of DCMS – PA.

Sir Dave Brailsford should be suspended by Ineos Grenadiers pending a full investigation into how Dr Richard Freeman came to order testosterone “knowing or believing” it was to “improve athletic performance”.

Arguably the most significant drugs scandal ever to engulf British sport culminated on Friday in former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Freeman also being found guilty by a medical tribunal of “concealing” his conduct by orchestrating an elaborate cover-up.

Clive Efford, the former shadow sports minister and now a member of the Digital, Culture, Media & Sport select committee, said of Brailsford and anyone else in charge at British Cycling and Team Sky at the time: “Until this is cleared up, all those involved shouldn’t be anywhere near the sport.”

Dave Brailsford

He added: “Clearly, there are questions to be answered and people should be suspended while this is properly investigated.” Efford said Friday’s ruling against Freeman by a medical tribunal exposed Team Sky’s “zero tolerance” approach to doping as having been “a tissue of lies”.

Brailsford has yet to comment on the outcome of Freeman’s tribunal but his former right-hand man, Shane Sutton, said neither man had known about the testosterone order. Damian Collins, the former chairman of the DCMS select committee who spearheaded its own investigation into doping claims against Team Sky, said Brailsford should apologise for what took place on his watch. Collins also proclaimed “it can’t get more serious” for British sport than an offence committed by a team doctor.

He added: “It’s essential now that we understand which cyclist or cyclists this was for and whether he ordered this of his own initiative or whether someone asked him to do it – and who those people were.

“It’s so important that investigations should continue to determine whether this was a one-off incident, what else had he been ordering, at whose request, and who was he treating?” Collins also said the case reinforced his view that the fight against drugs in sport in the UK was “under-resourced” and that the “funding and enforcement” of it should be reviewed.

Freeman, who has since quit cycling and now works as a GP in Lancashire, did not contest 18 of the 22 charges against him in his fitness-to-practise tribunal, which has dragged on for over two years. But he had always defended the motives behind his decision to order a batch of Testogel from medical supplier Fit4Sport in May 2011.

Freeman told the tribunal he was “bullied” into doing so by former head coach Sutton, to treat the Australian’s erectile dysfunction. Sutton vehemently denied he ever suffered from the condition. In its written reasons handed down on Friday morning, the three-person tribunal determined that Dr Freeman’s evidence was “implausible”, adding it did not believe he ordered the Testogel for Sutton.

Timeline | 10 critical moments in the hearing

Freeman claimed for the first time last autumn that he took the drugs home with him that night and washed them down the sink, but the tribunal noted that they only had his word for this. “Bearing in mind the breadth of Dr. Freeman’s dishonesty and the number of people he had pulled in to it, the tribunal found his conduct incapable of innocent explanation.

It was clear that, on the balance of probabilities, the inference could properly be drawn that when Dr. Freeman placed the order and obtained the Testogel, he knew or believed it was to be administered to an athlete to improve their athletic performance.”

In a statement, Sutton said he was “saddened” and hoped the person’s identity the testosterone was allegedly ordered for would one day be revealed.

“I feel for the doctor; that he ever got into this situation, and I remain disappointed that I was used as a scapegoat,” Sutton said. “It has caused great pain to both my family and me. But it also saddens me that this episode has cast a massive shadow over the success we enjoyed, both at Team Sky and British Cycling.

“I’d like to stress that Sir Dave Brailsford nor I knew about the testosterone order. But I think it’s important to find out who the doctor ordered it for. Hopefully, that will emerge from the investigation by UK Anti-Doping.”

UKAD confirmed only that it already charged Freeman with two rule violations after he admitted in the course of his evidence that he had lied to them about the Testogel during their “jiffy bag” investigation.

The rider’s identity for whom the testosterone was allegedly ordered has never been established, nor did the General Medical Council attempt to expose it. The 10-year statute of limitations on doping offenses means any rider who did use the ordered testosterone could escape punishment unless charged in the next two months.

British Cycling chief executive Brian Facer said: “The finding that the 2011 delivery of testosterone gel was intended for the illegal enhancement of a rider’s performance is alarming. We leave any further action in respect of this to UK Anti-Doping, whose work will have our wholehearted support.”

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