Richard Freeman’s defence team will question the credibility of former British Cycling and Team Sky head coach, Shane Sutton, his QC said on Thursday during a hearing into the doctor’s fitness to practise medicine.
Mary O’Rourke QC, representing Dr Freeman, also confirmed that she wanted to cross-examine Steve Peters, the former head of medicine at British Cycling, and would be making an application to a national newspaper regarding information it holds.
Dr Freeman, the former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor, faces being struck off if found guilty of misconduct at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) in Manchester. Last week he accepted 19 of the 22 charges against him, including ordering 30 sachets of Testogel, a product banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, to be sent to the Manchester velodrome used by both teams in May 2011.
In the case brought by the General Medical Council (GMC), Freeman had previously said the testosterone was delivered in error but, at the preliminary hearing, O’Rourke revealed her client would admit he had told “a lot of lies”.
However, O’Rourke told the tribunal that Dr Freeman had got the testosterone at the request of Sutton. In his witness statement, Sutton denied knowledge of the delivery and denied the testosterone was intended for him.
In testy exchanges on Thursday, O’Rourke revealed that her team was “gathering information on Sutton that questions his credibility” and that they were also likely to want to cross-examine Peters, before adding: “We’re likely now to want Dr Peters to be called. He might be able to assist us.”
O’Rourke, meanwhile, said she was “very disappointed” after the tribunal upheld an application from the GMC’s QC to amend two paragraphs of the allegation against Dr Freeman.
On Thursday morning one of the remaining charges was amended after days of legal discussion behind closed doors. The charge now says that Dr Freeman obtained the Testogel “when you knew it was not clinically indicated for a British Cycling member of staff” – and that he did so “knowing or believing” it was to be given to an athlete to enhance performance.
O’Rourke also raised concerns about the close links between the GMC and the MPTS, claiming emails between the two parties regarding witnesses that did not include the defence had made Freeman “very concerned” and “anxious”.