Freeman skips witness appearance at Varnish employment tribunal

Legal considerations keep former British Cycling doctor away

Dr. Richard Freeman, who was due to be a witness for Jess Varnish in her employment tribunal this week, will not appear upon advice from his legal team.

Varnish has argued that British Cycling and UK Sport wrongfully dismissed her in 2016 before the Rio Olympic Games, arguing that she was effectively an employee and should have been awarded the rights as such.

Freeman was expected to help Varnish substantiate claims that the support by British Cycling and UK Sport, which included medical care provided by Freeman and other doctors, as well as other benefits including dentistry, proved that British Cycling treated her as an employee.

According to the BBC, Freeman's legal team advised him to reconsider appearing because of the General Medical Council's investigation into a supposedly mistaken order of banned testosterone patches to British Cycling headquarters under Freeman's watch.

Varnish's lawyer, David Reade QC, told the BBC that the GMC's investigation led Freeman's legal team to reconsider his appearance in the tribunal because his character could be questioned upon cross-examination.

"When we informed him of that, he was advised by his legal team that he should not give evidence," said Reade.

British Cycling counsel Thomas Linden argued that Freeman did not have "the courage to be cross-examined or for me to point out to him that his statements are false."

Linden added, "Freeman's credibility is an issue. He has form for pulling out."

Varnish has accused British Cycling of gender discrimination in her dismissal, and although she could recoup the full value of her due compensation, a source close to Varnish said that she only wants to clear up the grey area in which UK Sport-supported athletes find themselves.

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