Richard Freeman: Ex-Team Sky & British Cycling doctor’s tribunal adjourned

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

The failure of ex-Team Sky and British Cycling chief doctor Richard Freeman to give evidence over claims he ordered testosterone for an unnamed rider is “appalling”, a politician says.

A medical tribunal for Freeman was adjourned on Tuesday and may not take place until next year.

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee chairman Damian Collins said it meant questions needed to be asked.

Freeman also failed to appear in front of a DCMS committee hearing in 2016.

The committee had called Freeman to give evidence during a wider investigation into doping in sport. It wanted to hear from him over his involvement in the ‘jiffy-bag’ scandal, in which a mystery package was delivered to Sir Bradley Wiggins at a race in 2011.

However he did not appear, citing ill health.

“We should be concerned that there is a concerted effort to make sure that Dr Freeman never has to give evidence, and we should rightly question why that might be the case,” Collins told BBC Sport.

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.

The tribunal had resumed in private legal argument before being adjourned.

A GMC spokesperson said: “It is frustrating that this case has not yet got under way.

“We remain ready to open our case in public and hope we will be permitted to do so as soon as possible.”

British Cycling said it was “extremely disappointed” by the decision.

“It is in the public interest and in the best interests of the sport that the allegations against Dr Richard Freeman are heard and examined openly by the Medical Practitioners’ Tribunal Service,” it said in a statement.

“British Cycling is a co-referrer in this case and we will continue to support the General Medical Council’s work as there remain historic questions to be answered.”

A new panel will need to be convened and the case has to start from scratch again.

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Analysis

BBC sports editor Dan Roan

It had been hoped that, following an investigation by the GMC, this tribunal represented the best chance yet of clearing up potentially the gravest controversy to hit British cycling.

Yet eight years after a mystery delivery of testosterone to the national cycling centre, and despite explosive allegations levelled against a man who was until quite recently the sport’s most senior doctor, we are no nearer to closure than a month ago when the case was meant to begin.

For the last four weeks the case has been held up by private legal argument.

The nature of the two applications made by Dr Freeman’s lawyers, whether they have been ruled upon, and why he failed to turn up for the hearing has all been kept secret.

At a time when Team Sky are understood to be in advanced talks with Britain’s richest man – Sir Jim Ratcliffe – about becoming the team’s new backer, this delay to what was sure to be a damaging case could prove useful.

But others will be deeply concerned that with the case now put back by many months, it may never actually happen at all.

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We did not cross the ethical line – Wiggins

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UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) concluded its own investigation into British Cycling and Team Sky 16 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.

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”.

In January, the BBC obtained email correspondence that showed 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, who resigned from British Cycling in October 2017 because of ill health, 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 denies any wrongdoing and has vowed to “clear everything up” over the testosterone delivery after the GMC investigation.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/47461988

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