Richard Freeman: Ex-Team Sky & British Cycling doctor's tribunal could be delayed several months

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July 2018: Former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Freeman - We never crossed the line

The medical tribunal of former chief Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman is at serious risk of being delayed for several months.

Freeman is yet to attend his hearing in Manchester, which was due to begin on Wednesday before a delay until Friday.

The tribunal has resumed in private legal argument, which is set to continue for the rest of the week.

Freeman has been charged with ordering testosterone in May 2011 to give to an unnamed rider to boost performance.

The General Medical Council (GMC) has accused him of lying to conceal his motive but Freeman denies any wrongdoing.

His legal team successfully applied for the 48-hour adjournment on Wednesday and the ongoing delay means the start of the actual Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) hearing has been pushed back by eight days at least.

Sources at the GMC and MPTS say it is now likely the case will not be completed within the four weeks initially allocated and will need to be adjourned and re-listed for later in the year, depending on availability of the panel and lawyers.

Freeman's renowned barrister Mary O'Rourke is understood to have various other cases arranged for several months following this one, possibly preventing any resumption until next year.

That delay could affect whether UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) is able launch a new investigation should fresh evidence emerge. Ukad concluded its investigation into British Cycling and Team Sky 15 months ago.

Freeman allegedly ordered the testosterone, which is banned for use by athletes at all times, to Manchester's National Cycling Centre from Oldham-based medical supplier Fit4Sport Ltd in May 2011.

The statute of limitations for prosecuting anti-doping cases was eight years in 2011. The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) extended that until 10 years in 2015 but it is likely the shorter statute of limitations will apply in this case.

Damian Collins MP - chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee, whose report last year found Team Sky had "crossed an ethical line" with its use of medical exemptions for banned drugs - criticised the delay.

"It is disgraceful that delaying tactics are holding up the work of this important medical tribunal into Dr Richard Freeman's work for British Cycling and Team Sky," he said.

Following a GMC investigation, Freeman was charged with contacting Fit4Sport Limited to ask for confirmation the order had been "sent in error, returned and would be destroyed" by the company, despite "knowing that this had not taken place".

Last month the BBC obtained email correspondence that showed that five months passed between the testosterone gel arriving at the velodrome in May 2011, and Freeman receiving a note from the supplier that it had been sent by mistake.

Freeman is also alleged to have lied to Ukad investigators in February 2017 by stating the testosterone had been ordered for a non-athlete member of staff.

Freeman received a mystery medical package for Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2011 but was unable to prove what it contained, blaming the theft of his laptop and poor record-keeping. He also denied the claims in the DCMS report, while Team Sky also denied any wrongdoing.

Last year Freeman, who resigned from British Cycling in October 2017 because of ill health, told the BBC that he suffered a "major depressive illness" before he was due to give evidence at a parliamentary select committee hearing in December 2016.

He denies any wrongdoing and has vowed to "clear everything up" over the testosterone delivery after the GMC investigation.

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