Freeman claims Shane Sutton bullied him to order testosterone

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Dr Richard Freeman has claimed that Shane Sutton "bullied" him into ordering the Testogel testosterone sachets that were sent to British Cycling headquarters in Manchester in the spring of 2011, as the medical tribunal hearing of ex-British Cycling and Team Sky medic began in earnest on Friday and revealed new details of the case.

The tribunal has spent more than a week discussing a proposed amendment to one of the key allegations. The change was granted on Thursday morning and the hearing finally got underway on Friday. Of the 22 allegations, Freeman is now contesting just four, all relating to the delivery of testosterone - which is banned in and out of competition - to British Cycling and Team Sky offices. All the others have been proven or admitted to by Freeman.

The critical allegation from an anti-doping point of view, which could spark a formal investigation for anti-doping rule violations, is 12b: "You placed the Order and obtained the Testogel knowing or believing it was to be administered to an athlete to improve their athletic performance."

The identity of the alleged athlete in question is still unknown.

Simon Jackson, the lawyer for the General Medical Council (GMC) set out his case on Friday, revealing key sections of Freeman's statement that was written in September. Freeman's team now says the statement is truthful after he admitted he had previously "told a lot of lies."

"Shane Sutton specifically requested that I prescribed him Testogel," said Freeman's witness statement according to a detailed report from the BBC.

"I was bullied into prescribing it for him."

Freeman also claimed in his statement that the Testogel was used to treat Sutton's erectile dysfunction. However, Jackson said that in Sutton's witness statement, the former Great Britain and Team Sky coach claimed he received treatment and prescriptions from Freeman but that those did not include Testogel.

Sutton is scheduled to appear as a witness on Monday and Tuesday next week, with GMC prosecution suggesting Sutton had become "Freeman's scapegoat to cover up his earlier misconduct."

Jackson explained that Sutton denies this and the GMC's case is that it was instead used for "micro-dosing" as a way of improving an athlete's performance.

According to the BBC, Jackson said Sutton would produce British Cycling medical records to prove he did not require testosterone. Jackson suggested there was a long-standing dispute between Freeman and Sutton.

The prosecution also suggested that Freeman applied "soft pressure" on Trish Meats of the medical supplies company Fit4Sports who supplied the Testogel, to send an email and so get himself "out of a situation of his own making". A statement from Meats revealed that the Testogel was never returned and remains debited to British Cycling's account.

In response to the GMC prosecution's accusations, Freeman's lawyer Mary O'Rourke argued that the GMC has "reached conclusions that are not sustainable".

She confirmed she will call former British Cycling physio Phil Burt and former British Cycling head of Medicine Dr Steve Peters as witnesses in addition to Sutton.

Freeman's team seek secret Daily Mail Sutton 'affidavit'

Before the prosecution started laying out its case, O'Rourke announced she will ask the GMC to make a section 35A legal application to British tabloid newspaper Daily Mail to release an alleged document that relates to the Freeman case.

O'Rourke claimed a "witness statement or affidavit" signed by Sutton was provided to the newspaper as an "insurance policy against any claims of defamation" by Bradley Wiggins, Dave Brailsford and Freeman. Sutton was a close friend and mentor to Wiggins when he targeted the Tour de France. Brailsford was the head of the British Cycling performance programme and is team manager at Team Ineos, which replaced Team Sky in the spring.

The Daily Mail will have 14 days after receiving the application to send the GMC any document.

O'Rourke suggested the document was relevant to the Freeman case because it "contains a number of lies" and is "inconsistent" with Sutton's subsequent evidence to the British parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee report that was published in 2018.

That report, using the legal protection of parliamentary privilege, said Team Sky had "crossed an ethical line" saying in its final report: "We believe that drugs were being used by Team Sky, within WADA rules, to enhance the performance of riders, and not just to treat medical need."

Both Wiggins and Team Sky have always denied any claims of wrongdoing.

The hearing continues, with dates cleared until December 20.

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