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Ex-Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman's tribunal is adjourned

Richard Freeman
Image: Richard Freeman's tribunal has been adjourned

British Cycling has said it is "extremely disappointed" that the medical tribunal of its former doctor Richard Freeman has been adjourned after 20 days of preliminary argument.

It was supposed to start on February 6 but lawyers have spent the last four weeks debating two preliminary applications from Dr Freeman's barrister Mary O'Rourke in private.

The tribunal delivered a decision on the second of those applications on Tuesday, the last of the hearing's scheduled days at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) headquarters in Manchester, but it will not be made public and the tribunal will now be relisted for later this year.

In a short statement to announce the indefinite adjournment, the MPTS said: "We believe it is in the public interest, and the interest of everybody involved in a case, for hearings to be completed as quickly as possible.

"We will be working with the parties to relist this hearing at the earliest opportunity."

Jess Varnish
Image: Dr Freeman did not give evidence at Jess Varnish's employment tribunal

The statement added that the MPTS try to reduce delays by resolving preliminary matters before hearings start but "parties may make applications at the start of a hearing and ... the tribunal must rule on these before they can hear the allegation against a doctor".

Dr Freeman, who also worked for Team Sky, is facing several misconduct charges, but the most serious is related to a delivery of testosterone, a drug banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), to the National Cycling Centre in May 2011, which he then allegedly tried to cover up.

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The GMC, his regulatory body, claims Dr Freeman obtained the 30 sachets of Testogel "to administer to an athlete to improve their athletic performance", a charge which could have huge implications for Britain's most successful Olympic and Paralympic sport.

Dr Freeman denies all wrongdoing but he resigned from British Cycling in October 2017 rather than face disciplinary action for poor record-keeping related to a different controversial delivery in June 2011, the so-called 'Jiffy bag' scandal.

He also failed to appear before a parliamentary inquiry into that mysterious package in December 2016 and did not show up to give evidence on behalf of former GB track sprinter Jess Varnish at her employment tribunal in December.

Freeman has previously denied all doping charges against him.
Image: Dr Richard Freeman denies any wrongdoing

In response to Tuesday's adjournment, a British Cycling spokesperson said: "It is in the public interest and in the best interests of the sport that the allegations against Dr Richard Freeman are heard and examined openly by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service.

"We are therefore extremely disappointed that the hearing has been adjourned.

"British Cycling is a co-referrer in this case and we will continue to support the General Medical Council's work as there remain historic questions to be answered."

A spokesperson for the GMC added: "It is frustrating that this case has not yet got under way. We remain ready to open our case in public and hope we will be permitted to do so as soon as possible."

Dr Freeman's legal team said it could not comment as the case was ongoing.

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