Freeman tribunal pushed back another day

Patrick Fletcher
Dr. Richard Freeman ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics

The medical tribunal examining former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman has suffered a second 24-hour delay in the space of two days and has now been pushed back to Thursday.

With the original hearing in February having been scrapped, the tribunal reconvened last week and introductory statements were made, but the past week has been spent on private discussion of an amendment to one of the allegations against Freeman.

Last Tuesday, the commencement of the tribunal proper was scheduled for 9:30am on Tuesday November 5, but on Monday lunchtime that was pushed back by 24 hours. On Tuesday afternoon, an identical statement was issued, saying the process had been delayed by another day and that the parties are set to reconvene on Thursday at 9:30.

"We have just been made aware the tribunal hearing the case of Dr Freeman requires further time before announcing its decision on the preliminary application to amend the allegation," read a statement from the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service.

The ongoing discussions concern the wording of one of the 22 allegations made in the GMC's case against Freeman, only three of which he is contesting. These all relate to the delivery of testosterone - banned in and out of competition - to British Cycling and Team Sky headquarters in June 2011.

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In its original case summary, the General Medical Council (GMC) outlined the allegation that Freeman's "motive for placing the order was to obtain Testogel to administer to an athlete to improve their athletic performance". However, it is now seeking to alter the notion of 'motive' to that of Freeman knowing - or that he should know - this would be a possibility. 

Last week, the GMC claimed this would not imply a change to the burden of proof, but rather that it reflected updates to Freeman's own defense. 

In his statement last week, read by his lawyer, Mary O'Rourke, Freeman outlined that he will admit to ordering the 30 sachets of testosterone gel and that he had "told a lot of lies" about the matter, having previously claimed the package was sent in error and returned. 

Freeman will claim the Testogel was intended not to dope a rider but to treat Shane Sutton, who worked as a coach across British Cycling and Team Sky. However, Sutton, who is set to appear as the GMC's principal witness and will also be cross-examined by O'Rourke, will deny this, with the GMC intending to provide evidence from an endocrinologist that Sutton would have no medical need for Testogel.

If the GMC can stand up their allegation over the course of the tribunal, which has space to run until December 20, Freeman could lose his licence to practice medicine and also face doping charges. UK Anti-Doping, which passed on evidence to the GMC after a lack of medical records frustrated their investigation into the so-called 'jiffy bag' affair, have reportedly been assured that the World Anti-Doping Agency's updated 10-year statute of limitations would be applicable.