The medical tribunal of the former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman now looks increasingly likely to drag on until after Easter 2021 after yet more delays caused by the release of a new tranche of medical data.

When the tribunal began in February 2019 it was expected to last for two months.

Now there are fears it could drag on into a third year if it is not finished by 26 November, when Freeman’s QC, Mary O’Rourke, has another General Medical Council case to attend that is due to run until the spring.

The hearing was held in private session on Thursday because there is a shared concern between Team Ineos, British Cycling and the General Medical Council about breaching medical confidentiality by accident if riders’ blood details are put in the public domain, and it will not now resume until next Thursday.

The new data, and the GMC’s desire to establish a “key” so that Freeman can be cross-examined without making riders’ identities obvious, has meant that his evidence has gone on longer than expected. Rourke is now not expecting to call her other witnesses until the end of October – two weeks later than planned.

Another potential issue is that the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service will have to shut if a “circuit break” is introduced by the government – although it will stay open if Manchester is moved into tier 3 of lockdown regulations.

Freeman has accepted 18 of the 22 charges against him from the GMC, including ordering the banned Testogel in 2011 and lying to UK Anti‑Doping. Last week, he also admitted abusing his position by persuading an employee of the medical supplier Fit4Sport to cover his tracks.

The doctor denies “knowing or believing it was to be used by an athlete to improve performance” and says he purchased it for British Cycling’s head coach at the time, Shane Sutton, to treat his erectile dysfunction, which Sutton denies.

One option, O’Rourke suggested, would be to delay her other case by a few weeks – giving extra time for the Freeman tribunal to be completed before Christmas – but said that was by no means guaranteed to happen.

The tribunal continues.



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