How the hell… can the Jiffy Bag Doctor write a book about medical innovation?

Want to improve your sporting prowess through medication? There’s a book on the way that will help. But Euan asks … how the hell can Dr Richard Freeman write it?

Good news book fans, there is a new tome on the way based around this decade’s boom in British cycling. This time it isn’t an “autobiography” from a star rider (or the third or fourth…), which misses out a few pertinent details. Nor is it a pseudo-business book about how marginal gains can bring Olympic-sized success to your workplace! 

No, this new book is The Line: Where Medicine and Sport Collide and comes from Dr Richard Freeman. According to the publishers, it will give details on Dr Freeman’s “innovations” and will explain his “principles and practices … in a sport where there is an ethical line as well as a finishing line”.

But hang on a minute. Isn’t Dr Freeman better known for something else? Isn’t he the doctor at the centre of the whole Jiffy Bag Debacle? Why, yes he is! But don’t worry, the book’s publishers also promise that it will contain “a frank and open account in response to allegations of misuse of medical treatment to enhance performance”.

If you think back to last year, Dr Freeman was too ill to give evidence to the UK Parliamentary enquiry into doping in sport. He was too ill to take part in a British Cycling disciplinary enquiry into his standards. Yet, he was well enough to sign a publishing deal and write a book to ensure that he tells his side of the story is.

Now I would have preferred he told his version of events in a different way. One that allows them to be properly questioned and scrutinised. Maybe one day he will.

However, let’s look forward to the book. Obviously, as a doctor he’s bound by patient confidentiality. We won’t be reading about the medical secrets of any great British Cycling success story such as Dame Sarah Storey or Sir Chris HoyAnd I’d imagine he also had to sign non-disclosure agreements with his former employers, British Cycling and Team Sky. These things are pretty standard. So it’s going to have to be pretty generic on that period of his career. If it isn’t generic, he’s either had the okay from his old workplaces to reveal their secrets – unless they didn’t get those pesky NDAs in place... That would take us into another fun situation. 

Still, we can look forward to hearing all about the innovations of Dr Freeman! He must have a pretty good memory as he famously all his notes were on the laptop that was stolen when he was on holiday. Sadly for Dr Freeman, that theft meant he couldn’t produce documentation to corroborate his evidence to any investigation.

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The “principles and practices” section should be interesting. This is the doctor who failed to keep secure the medical records of Bradley Wiggins. He kept all his notes on Wiggins on that laptop and failed to back them up – the kind of poor principles and lax practice that wouldn’t get your local GP a book deal …

Dr Freeman denies all allegations of wrongdoing, but until he allows more scrutiny of his role at Sky, I don’t see how this book is going to achieve his desire to be known for his medical innovations.

So how the hell can the Jiffy Bag Doctor write a book about medical innovation with a straight face? He’s free to do so but this could end up being a huge misjudgement. 

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