Dr Freeman hearing – the questions that remain for this week’s tribunal

Cycling

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The medical tribunal of former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman is set to start in Manchester on Wednesday.

The technical purpose of the hearing is to decide whether Dr Freeman is fit to practise medicine – but it also has major implications for British Cycling, Team Sky – now Team Ineos – and the sport overall.

Dr Freeman is facing 22 allegations following a General Medical Council investigation.

He is only contesting three charges, including that he ordered testosterone in May 2011 to give to an unnamed rider to boost performance and then lied about why he ordered the banned substance.

Here are some of the questions that still need answering on this long-running story.

Has Freeman lied about his activities?

In the preliminary hearing, Dr Freeman’s lawyer Mary O’Rourke said her client will admit he had “told a lot of lies” but that his latest witness statement, submitted in September, is “the truth”.

More will come out during the hearing, but the first session revealed what some of those lies were.

Dr Freeman now he admits he did order the 30 testogel sachets to the National Cycling Centre in Manchester in May 2011, having previously claimed it was sent in error by suppliers Fit4Sport.

Given he did place the order, it means he was dishonest in asking Fit4Sport five months later for written confirmation the testosterone had been sent in error.

Who was the testosterone for?

This is the key aspect of the case because testosterone is banned for use by athletes at all times under World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) rules.

The prosecution will allege Dr Freeman ordered the testosterone for an athlete to enhance their performance.

If proven, Dr Freeman could face doping charges and it will raise serious questions over what was going on at British Cycling, the dominant force in track cycling at the time and Team Sky, who were on the cusp of doing the same in road cycling.

Dr Freeman will claim he ordered the testosterone at the request of Shane Sutton, who was head coach of British Cycling and Team Sky at the time.

In his witness statement, Sutton denied the testosterone was for him and denied ordering it or knowledge of the delivery.

What are the three allegations he denies?

Dr Freeman will continue to deny that he ordered the testosterone for an athlete and that he administered testosterone to an athlete.

He is also expected to deny that he lied to UK Anti-Doping investigators in 2017 by telling them the testogel had been ordered for a non-athlete member of staff.

Why the delay?

The independent medical practitioners tribunal was set to take place in February but got bogged down in legal argument and Dr Freeman did not appear, citing ill health.

Who else will give evidence?

A list of witnesses has not yet been released.

Miss O’Rourke said the only GMC witness she needs to cross-examine is Sutton.

Dr Steve Peters, the former head of medicine at British Cycling, was expected to be among the witnesses when the tribunal was due to start in February.

Who else could have questions to answer?

Dr Peters is central to this story – when the Sunday Times revealed the testosterone delivery in 2017, he told the newspaper that Freeman told him the order had been made in error.

Dr Peters claimed Dr Freeman contacted the supplier by phone the same day the order arrived to confirm it was sent in error and Dr Peters said he then asked Freeman to return it.

Dr Peters said he was shown this confirmation by Dr Freeman and was satisfied he did not to raise the matter with then British Cycling head Dave Brailsford.

Brailsford could face questions over how much, if anything, he knew.

What are the possible outcomes?

If the charges are upheld, Dr Freeman faces being struck off.

UK Anti-Doping may also re-open and begin a new investigation into allegations of wrongdoing at British Cycling and Team Sky.

While investigating a separate case – the mystery medical package delivered in a Jiffy bag to Dr Freeman at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine, allegedly for Sir Bradley Wiggins – Ukad discovered information it then passed to the GMC for this case.

Both Wiggins and Team Sky have always strongly refuted any claims of wrongdoing over the long-running saga.

Ukad closed its investigation in November 2017 and was unable to determine the contents of the Jiffy bag but criticised British Cycling for failing to keep adequate medical records.

Wada extended the statute of limitations for prosecuting anti-doping cases to 10 years in 2015 and Ukad has reportedly been assured that time limit will apply in this case.

If Ukad decides there is a case to answer, key players in one of Britain’s most successful sports may be facing a high-profile investigation into allegations of cheating.

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