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Freeman fails to get tribunal charges dropped

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

Richard Freeman's bid to have charges dropped in his medical hearing was rejected by the tribunal on Friday. 

The former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor had made a 'no case to answer' submission, with his lawyer, Mary O'Rourke QC, arguing the General Medical Council (GMC), which has brought the case against Freeman, had insufficient evidence to substantiate its allegations.

Freeman has accepted 18 of the 22 allegations, but is disputing those surrounding the delivery of testosterone to Team Sky and British Cycling HQ in 2011, notably that he ordered it 'knowing or believing' it would be used to dope a rider. 

"The Tribunal has determined that there is sufficient evidence to establish a case to answer," read a statement from the tribunal service on Friday. 

The defeat is the second in quick succession for Freeman, who failed in his application to have Shane Sutton's evidence thrown out after the former coach stormed out of the hearing and did not return.

While O'Rourke argued the GMC did not have a "scintilla of evidence" to back up the key testosterone allegation, the tribunal stated that a 'reasonable jury' would be entitled to infer he 'knew or believed' it was to be administered to an athlete to improve athletic performance. 

The tribunal took into account a 'pattern of dishonesty' from Freeman, who has admitted to telling a string of lies regarding the testosterone delivery, including during a UK Anti-Doping investigation. 

The tribunal also stated that Sutton's evidence, along with that of an endocrinologist, was "capable of establishing that the Testogel was not clinically indicating for Mr Sutton", as Freeman argues. 

Freeman was in the tribunal building in Manchester on Friday but did not attend the hearing, with O'Rourke saying he was "too emotional" to do so, according to the BBC. She went on to explain that Freeman, who has bipolar disorder and has previously revealed he's had suicidal thoughts, had seen a psychiatrist after what she described as a "crisis" this week.  "I'm not going to take risks or play games with his health," O'Rourke said. 

The tribunal had been scheduled to run until December 20, in a two-month window that was double that allocated for the original hearing that was scrapped in February. However, it is now almost certain to run over and into the new year, with scheduled commitments from the lawyers and tribunal members potentially adding further complications to the process. 

The tribunal will reconvene on Monday.