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UKAD under pressure to investigate former Team Sky doctor before 2021 statute of limitations date

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

With repeated delays in the tribunal hearings to decide whether former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman is fit to practice medicine, the UK Anti-Doping Agency (UKAD) is apparently under pressure to consider lodging anti-doping rule violations against the doctor before the ten-year statute of limitations runs out on May, 2021, according to The Times.

Freeman has admitted to 18 of 22 charges brought by the General Medical Council (GMC), including the ordering of Testogel in 2011, a substance that is banned both in and out of competition. That admission alone could result in a violation of UCI rules that apply to both athletes and support personnel and prohibit possession of banned substances.

As a physician, WADA gives leeway for possession of banned substances for a non-athlete family member who had a physician's prescription or carrying it for emergency situations - exceptions unlikely to be applied to possession of testosterone. 

It has yet to be established exactly for whom the Testogel was intended.

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

By admitting to lying to UKAD, saying the order was sent in error by supplier Fit4Sport and returned when it was not, Freeman could face additional charges of tampering.

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.

Because of Freeman's fragile mental health, there have been repeated delays in the proceedings, with the original tribunal scheduled for February 2019. The hearings only began in October last year and after heated exchanges between Freeman's attorney and Sutton, Freeman skipped the hearings after suffering an psychological crisis.

The tribunal is due to resume in April with an anticipated final hearing in October. According to the Times, UKAD are not likely to issue any anti-doping charges until Freeman testifies in the tribunal.