Former British Cycling doctor destroyed laptop before handing to experts

(Reuters) - Former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman, who was charged with ordering 30 sachets of banned substance Testogel for an athlete in 2011, admitted to destroying a laptop with "a screwdriver or blunt instrument" before giving it to forensic experts conducting a doping investigation.

Freeman, appearing at a General Medical Council (GMC) hearing, said the device was given to him by British Cycling to replace one that was stolen in Greece.

The disappearance of the first laptop had hindered the UK Anti-Doping's investigation into a jiffy bag ordered on behalf of former Team Sky rider Bradley Wiggins at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine cycle race.

Freeman said the second laptop, which is believed to have contained the records of the riders under his supervision, was damaged and that he chose not to recycle it as he was afraid information could be hacked.

"I had nothing to hide," Freeman said when accused by Simon Jackson QC, on behalf of the GMC, of damaging the laptop "in an amateurish way".

"It had already been damaged by British Cycling.

"Rather than take it to a local recycling centre, I had seen a programme about how people in India can access data on laptops. I decided I cannot let that happen so I decided to destroy it. This was in the midst of a period when I wasn't feeling well."

Freeman admitted to 18 of the 22 charges against him but said he was pressured into ordering the banned substance by former head coach Shane Sutton. Sutton had denied the allegations.

Freeman also said being questioned by Sky chiefs had caused him to break down following which he had cancelled his appearance at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee hearing in 2017.

"I went down to see James Murdoch and Team Sky... to be briefed at an imposing building at Canary Wharf... 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," he added.

(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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