Shane Sutton 'hostile' at tribunal because he was hiding truth, says Dr Richard Freeman's lawyer

Mary O'Rourke and Richard Freeman
Mary O'Rourke QC (left) has been representing Dr Richard Freeman

Shane Sutton's "hostile attitude" during doctor Richard Freeman's medical tribunal was because he was hiding the truth about testosterone being delivered to British Cycling in 2011, the hearing was told on Monday.

Former British Cycling performance director Sutton walked out of the tribunal last month after being accused of being "a liar, a doper and a bully" by Dr Freeman's defence lawyer Mary O'Rourke QC.

After a recording of that session from 12 November was replayed, she said he left the tribunal because it became "too hot to handle".

Highlighting where Sutton had raised his voice and banged the table, she told the hearing the Australian was "defensive" and "abusive".

"I got a hostile attitude because he knows the truth about what happened here," she said.

Former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Freeman denies ordering testosterone gel to British Cycling headquarters in 2011 knowing or believing it was intended for an athlete.

He says he was bullied into ordering 30 sachets of Testogel by Sutton to treat erectile dysfunction, a claim the latter denies.

After Sutton left the hearing prematurely, O'Rourke said she wanted his evidence thrown out because it was incomplete, but on Friday it was deemed admissible.

O'Rourke is also attempting to have four of 22 charges against her client thrown out, claiming insufficient evidence.

In her submission she successfully asked for the audio of Sutton's curtailed appearance to be replayed before the tribunal in Manchester.

As part of that submission, she highlighted how Sutton's performance in the tribunal showed how he lacked "credibility".

"If you have nothing to hide you don't behave in that manner, you don't start becoming abusive and banging the table," she said.

"He fled before questions he knew were coming. He knew there was more material that would compromise him.

"He left because it was too hot to handle, not because of what I was saying."

The hearing was told on Friday that Sutton's perception had been that he had been bullied by O'Rourke, leading to him walking out.

But the tribunal panel clarified that they did not regard her conduct as bullying.

'He got caught out'

Following the replay of last month's stormy session, which lasted about 90 minutes, O'Rourke added: "A witness of truth doesn't behave in that way, a witness of truth doesn't misperceive he's bullied.

"A witness who has something to hide is going to be suspicious from the off.

"A witness who knows what he's done and told lies and knows well about drugs, and the use and abuse of them, is a witness who goes on the offensive.

"A witness of truth doesn't abuse counsel and Richard Freeman, who he calls a friend.

"He's come along with agenda. Is he a liar? Yes. He got caught out."

Earlier on Monday, O'Rourke told the hearing Dr Freeman did not attend on Monday after feeling "upset" by media reports of proceedings over the weekend.

During Friday's discussion of potential delays to the hearing, which mean it could continue after its scheduled end date of 20 December, O'Rourke said her client would not be able to attend the tribunal in the new year because he had been prescribed a skiing holiday by his own doctor.

That led to media coverage which "caused him some distress", O'Rourke said.

Dr Freeman has not attended the hearing since Sutton labelled him "spineless" during his appearance.

The independent tribunal has been called by the General Medical Council to assess Freeman's fitness to practise.

The medic, who left British Cycling in 2017, admits 18 of 22 charges against him including ordering testosterone to the National Cycling Centre, trying to cover up the order and lying to a UK Anti-Doping investigation.

The tribunal continues.

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