Dr Richard Freeman: Former British Cycling doctor's medical adjourned until Friday

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July 2018: Former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Freeman - We never crossed the line

A medical tribunal for the former chief doctor at British Cycling and Team Sky has been adjourned until Friday.

Dr Richard Freeman's hearing was due to begin in Manchester on Wednesday but he did not attend and a delay until Friday at 09:30 GMT was agreed.

He has been charged with ordering testosterone in May 2011 to give to an unnamed rider to boost performance.

The General Medical Council has accused him of lying to conceal his motive but Freeman denies any wrongdoing.

On Wednesday his legal team successfully applied for the 48-hour adjournment.

Tribunal chair Stephen Mooney said: "The reasons for the adjournment cannot be made public at this time.

"But I can say this, there is likely to be a further application on Friday morning which will involve legal argument and it is very likely to be held in private as well."

Freeman's legal team remain confident he will attend to give evidence but if found guilty he could be struck off and lose his medical licence.

That could also have major ramifications for the sport, with UK Anti-Doping poised to reopen its investigation into cycling, which was closed 14 months ago.

Following the adjournment, British Cycling 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 by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service.

"We continue to support the General Medical Council's work as historic questions need to be resolved."

Following a GMC investigation, Freeman was charged with contacting a leading medical supplier - Oldham-based Fit4Sport Ltd - to ask for confirmation that the order for testosterone was sent in error to Manchester's National Cycling Centre - home to Team Sky and British Cycling - despite knowing this had not taken place.

Last month the BBC obtained email correspondence that showed that five months passed between the testosterone gel arriving at the velodrome in May 2011, and Freeman receiving a note from the supplier that it had been sent by mistake.

In pre-hearing information published by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS), it is claimed Freeman's "motive for his actions, in respect of the untrue statements and communications with Fit4Sport Ltd, were to conceal his motive for placing the order".

Fit4Sport told the BBC it would not comment while the GMC proceedings were ongoing.

Freeman is also alleged to have lied to Ukad investigators in February 2017 by stating the testosterone had been ordered for a non-athlete member of staff.

Testosterone is outlawed by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Freeman, formerly head of medicine and head of sports science at Bolton Wanderers FC from 2001 until 2009, worked as a medic at Team Sky and British Cycling between 2009 and 2015. He then worked solely for British Cycling for another two years.

He will be represented by renowned barrister Mary O'Rourke, who represented former Chelsea FC doctor Eva Carneiro in 2016 in her constructive dismissal claim against the Premier League club.

The case - which will be heard at the MPTS and is scheduled to last for four weeks - threatens to cast a shadow over the sport in Britain more serious than any seen before.

Certainly, among the 11 accusations Freeman faces, the explosive claim that he ordered the testosterone gel for an athlete to boost their performance eclipses any allegation to date in the various controversies affecting British Cycling and Team Sky in recent years.

The delivery at the heart of the case was made just over a year before Britain reigned supreme in the velodrome at the London 2012 Games.

The tribunal also comes at a time when Team Sky are trying to find new backers after their main sponsor announced it was pulling out at the end of this season.

Freeman received a mystery medical package for Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2011 but was unable to prove what it contained, blaming the theft of his laptop and poor record-keeping. He also denied an MPs' report that accused Team Sky of "crossing the ethical line" with its use of medical exemptions for banned drugs. The team denied any wrongdoing.

Last year Freeman told the BBC that he suffered a "major depressive illness" before he was due to give evidence at a parliamentary select committee hearing in December 2016.

The GMC has charged Freeman with "inappropriately" providing medical treatment to non-athletes, and failing to inform three patients' GPs of "medication prescribed and reasons for prescribing".

It also claims that Freeman, who resigned from British Cycling in October 2017 because of ill health, "failed to maintain an adequate record management system".

He denies any wrongdoing and has vowed to "clear everything up" over the testosterone delivery after the GMC investigation.

Team Sky's former medical director Dr Steve Peters and British Cycling's former technical director Shane Sutton are among those expected to give evidence.

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