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Timeline: Richard Freeman's medical tribunal

Dr. Richard Freeman ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics
Dr. Richard Freeman ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics (Image credit: Getty Images)

The tribunal assessing former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman's fitness to practise medicine is in full swing. Centred around the allegation that Freeman ordered testosterone - which is banned in and out of competition - in 2011 'knowing or believing' it could be used to dope a rider, the process so far has been nothing if not dramatic. 

With fresh revelations on an almost daily basis, it's easy to lose track of it all, so we've compiled this timeline that charts the affair from its very beginnings to the latest from Manchester. 

Where it all began

When investigating the so-called 'jiffy bag' affair, UK Anti-Doping unearthed the fact that a package containing testosterone had been delivered to the Manchester velodrome, home to British Cycling and Team Sky, in June 2011.

In March 2017, in the midst of the UKAD investigation, Steve Peters, former head of medicine, went public with the information to the Sunday Times. Peters said Freeman had told him the package must have been sent in error, and that Freeman had shown him confirmation it had been returned to the supplier. 

The GMC gets involved

UKAD closed its investigation in November 2017, frustrated by a lack of medical records. However, it passed evidence on to the GMC, which in theory has enhanced powers to require disclosure of information under the Medical Act. Either side of the new year, allegations emerged that the testosterone had in fact been ordered deliberately. 

Towards the end of 2018, the GMC finished building its case against Freeman and a hearing was scheduled by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) for February. 

The full list of allegations would not be made public until the hearing formally opened, but the GMC produced a summary of its case. At the heart of it was the explosive allegation that Freeman had ordered the testosterone and that his motive for doing so was 'to administer to an athlete to improve their athletic performance'. The GMC further alleged Freeman had lied repeatedly about the delivery in a bid to  conceal his motive for placing the order. 

Away from the testosterone, the GMC also brought charges relating to Freeman's record keeping, and 'inappropriate' treatment of non-athlete members of staff and management of prescription medication. Freeman would face being struck off the medical register. 

The original hearing

On February 6, 2019, the tribunal gathered in Manchester for the start of the process. However, it failed to get off the ground. 

With Freeman absent, his lawyer, Mary O'Rourke QC, immediately requested an adjournment, the reasons for which were heard in private given they related to Freeman's health. After securing an initial 48-hour adjournment, preliminary arguments were discussed in private before the tribunal was scrapped and put out for rescheduling.

The new tribunal

Eight months after the hearing was supposed to get underway, a date for the new tribunal was confirmed. With time to run from October 28 to December 20, almost double the time was allocated compared to the original. 

On October 28, opening statements were read, summarising the parties' respective cases, but there was more delay as the GMC argued for a significant change to the key allegation. 

After the panel agreed to amend the allegation, which replaced the idea of Freeman's motive being to dope an athlete with that of 'knowing or believing' it could happen, the tribunal formally opened. With it, the full list of 22 allegations - only four of which Freeman would contest, all relating to the testosterone - was made public. 

The tribunal has been sitting most days since November 7, serving up consistent drama.

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