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Freeman absent from medical tribunal after 'upsetting' media reports

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

Richard Freemen did not attend the medical tribunal that resumed on Monday after being upset by media reports over the weekend, according to the BBC. The medical tribunal that is assessing the former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor’s fitness to practise medicine decided last week to admit evidence from Shane Sutton and discussed delaying the hearing.

The hearing is scheduled to conclude on December 20, but it could move into the New Year.

The BBC reported that Freeman’s lawyer, Mary O’Rourke, said her client had been prescribed a skiing holiday by his doctor and wouldn’t be able to attend the tribunal if it were extended in to the New Year. O’Rourke said the corresponding media coverage "caused Freeman some distress".

"He was supposed to be with us today, but he didn't feel able to come as a result of being upset of media coverage over the weekend," O’Rourke added, according to the BBC report.

Freeman has accepted 18 of 22 charges against him, including that he ordered 30 sachets of the banned substance Testogel and then lied to UK Anti-Doping about trying to cover it up. He denies the accusation, formalized by the British General Medical Council, that he made the Testogel order knowing it was for an unnamed athlete to microdose testosterone.

Freeman's legal team is trying to have the remaining four charges thrown out. Freeman claimed that the Testogel was for Sutton, the former head coach at Team Sky and British Cycling. 

Freeman claimed that Sutton allegedly bullied him into ordering the drug for personal use to treat erectile dysfunction. Sutton denied suffering from the condition and claimed that he had never heard of Testogel prior to the reporting of this case.

Sutton walked out the medical tribunal hearing in November after O’Rourke accused him of being 'a doper' and 'a serial liar' and a 'bully'. 

The next day, Freeman also did not appear at the medical tribunal hearing after citing an "an adverse reaction" to the previous day's cross-examination.

O’Rourke wanted Sutton’s testimony disregarded for being incomplete, but according to reports in the BBC on Friday, the tribunal ruled Sutton’s evidence admissible. 

O’Rourke also requested clarification from the tribunal panel regarding her previous cross-examination of Sutton, and whether the panel felt she bullied him.

Panel chair Neil Dalton confirmed that O’Rourke did not bully Sutton. However, the panel explained that "Sutton's unwillingness to continue to be cross-examined arose directly out of his perception of unfairness and bullying engendered by Ms O'Rourke's approach to him", as reported by the BBC.

Although O’Rourke initially said she might quit the case if the panel decided that she has bullied Sutton, she now intends to continue to have the four remaining charges against Freeman thrown out.