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Freeman absent from medical tribunal after adverse reaction to Sutton aggression

Richard Freeman, former Team Sky doctor
Richard Freeman, former Team Sky doctor
(Image credit: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Dr Richard Freeman was absent when his medical tribunal hearing began again in Manchester on Thursday, with his lawyer Mary O'Rourke saying her client had "an adverse reaction to what happened here Tuesday," when O'Rourke had a tense exchange with Shane Sutton and he abandoned the hearing after calling Freeman "spineless".  

Freeman will apparently have an emergency appointment with a psychiatrist on Friday and is not "not in any fit condition to be here today or tomorrow." 

Sutton was also absent after opting not to return for further voluntary questioning. However the General Medical Council (GMC), that is looking to discipline Freeman for a total of 22 charges including ordering 30 sachets of Testogel testosterone "knowing or believing it was to be administered to an athlete to improve their athletic performance," called Team Ineos consultant psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters as their second witness.

During initial debate, O’Rourke said she was very disappointed that Sutton had not returned for further questioning and there was discussion on if Sutton's comments would be struck from the record or retained.

Freeman's legal team has claimed that the Testogel was for Sutton, who allegedly bullied Freeman into ordering the drug for personal use to treat erectile dysfunction. Sutton denied suffering from the condition and hit back when O'Rourke accused him of being a "habitual and serial liar," and "a doper, with a doping history."

"I don’t need to be dragged through this shitfight that this individual is trying to bring on me,” replied Sutton according to The Guardian newspaper. “I was asked to come here and answer whether I ordered Testogel. I did not."

Before leaving, he also verbally attacked Freeman, who was sat behind a screen after being deemed a vulnerable witness.

"I haven’t lied. He’s hiding behind a screen, which is spineless. Richard, you're a spineless individual."

Peters is expected to reveal further details of the Testogel order and Freeman's work as a doctor.

Like Sutton and Freeman, Peters worked for both Team Sky and British Cycling for almost a decade including the period when the Testogel was sent to the Manchester velodrome in 2011. Peters is a renowned pyschiatrist and was the former head of medicine at British Cycling and held a similar role at Team Sky. He remains at Team Ineos in a consultancy  role.

Freeman reportedly told Peters the Testogel order was a mistake and claimed he would secure an email saying so. An email eventually arrived five months later but Freeman has since admitted the Testogel was not sent in error.    

However Peter's questioning was immediately called into doubt by O'Rourke when he was asked about Freeman's health. It also emerged Peters had recently spoken to the GMC lawyer but O'Rourke claimed the official submission note included details that he had not told her in a similar phone conversation.

O'Rourke suggested that the line of questioning put to Peters meant the tribunal had gone "well and truly off piste", but after debate Peters was questioned.   

The hearing continues.