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Freeman medical tribunal to resume in October

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

Dr. Richard Freeman's tribunal will reconvene from October 6 through November 26 under the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS). The hearing that is assessing whether the former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor is fit to practice medicine was adjourned on medical grounds in December.

Freeman has admitted to 18 of 22 charges brought by the General Medical Council (GMC), including the ordering a shipment of Testogel, a substance that is banned both in and out of competition, that was delivered to British Cycling and Team Sky headquarters in Manchester in 2011. 

MPTS tribunals hear cases and make independent decisions regarding doctors where serious concerns have been raised and whose fitness to practise has been called into question by the GMC.

The GMC alleges that Freeman ordered the testosterone gel "knowing or believing" it was intended to be used for performance enhancing purposes for an athlete and not for a staff member as he claimed. Freeman has denied the four charges related to this allegation. 

Freeman alleges that Shane Sutton, a former British Cycling and Team Sky trainer, requested the drug to treat a medical condition, but Sutton denied that claim.

There have been on-going delays during the tribunal hearings concerning Freeman, which were originally scheduled to begin in February of 2019. Due to Freeman's struggle with mental health the proceedings were delayed until October last year.

During the hearings that were held between October and December last year, there were heated exchanges between Freeman's attorney Mary O'Rourke and Sutton. Freeman ended up skipping the remaining hearings after citing a psychological crisis.

Freeman also failed to get the four charges dropped and the Tribunal determined in December that there was "sufficient evidence to establish a case to answer."

Although the hearings were initially scheduled to continue into late December, they were adjourned until 2020 on medical grounds.

The beginnings of this case date back to 2016 with a UK Anti-Doping Agency (UKAD) investigation into British Cycling and Team Sky medical practices. According to a report in The Times, in February, UKAD was under pressure to consider lodging anti-doping rule violations against Freeman before the ten-year statute of limitations runs out on May, 2021. However, the report suggested that UKAD won't issue anti-doping charges until Freeman testifies in the upcoming MPTS tribunal.

The MPTS has noted that it will be running hearings virtually and via its hearing centre beginning August 3 and that all public hearings will be observable at the hearing centre, either in the public gallery, or through a video link in a public viewing room.

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