Freeman open to doping charges under updated statute of limitations

Former Team Sky and British Cycling team doctor Richard Freeman (Image credit: Getty Images)

UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) could still pursue charges against former British Cycling and Team Ineos doctor Richard Freeman under the World Anti-Doping Agency's updated statute of limitations, according to a report in The Times. 

Freeman is currently the focus of a medical tribunal, facing an allegation that he ordered testosterone to be administered to an athlete for performance-enhancement in June 2011.

On Tuesday, Freeman acknowledged that he ordered the testosterone but is set to argue it was for a member of staff, namely former British Cycling and Team Sky technical director Shane Sutton. 

If the General Medical Council (GMC), who are bringing the case against Freeman to the tribunal, can stand up the allegation, UKAD is poised to take action, given testosterone is banned in and out of competition. 

There has been some confusion over UKAD's ability to press charges, given the change to WADA's statute of limitations - the period of time in which anti-doping violations can be punished. In 2011, when Freeman ordered the testosterone, the statute of limitations stood at eight years from the date of violation, meaning any opportunity for sanction would have passed. 

However, WADA upgraded the statute of limitations to 10 years in 2015, which would give UKAD until June 2021. According to The Times, UKAD has received assurances that a 10-year period could be applied in this case. 

After his original tribunal was adjourned in February, Freeman appeared in Manchester on Tuesday as the case started afresh, with his lawyer reading out a statement in which he admitted to ordering the testosterone but claimed it was for Sutton. 

The tribunal are currently debating an amendment to the wording of the allegation, which states that Freeman's "motive for ordering the testosterone was to ‘administer to an athlete to improve their athletic performance". The GMC want to replace 'motive' with the idea Freeman knew or believed this was a possibility. 

A decision on the proposed amendment will be made on Tuesday morning, at which point the hearing proper should being, providing there are no further preliminary arguments to be heard. 

Sutton will be called as a witness by the GMC, with Freeman's legal team keen to cross-examine him. Freeman has requested to be screened from Sutton – and from the public gallery – during certain parts of the hearing. 

Freeman is facing no fewer than 22 allegations from the GMC, including misconduct concerning his keeping of medical records and treatment of fellow members of staff, but he is only contesting the three that relate to the testosterone delivery. 

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