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Richard Freeman’s lawyer tells tribunal Shane Sutton was ‘hostile … because he knows the truth’

Mary O’Rourke insists he ‘fled’ from cross-examination ‘before questions he knew were coming’

The Queen’s Counsel defending Dr Richard Freeman on charges brought against him by the General Medical Council has said that Shane Sutton’s “hostile attitude” when she cross-examined him last month was “because he knows the truth” about the Testogel patches delivered to British Cycling’s headquarters in 2011.

Sutton, former technical director at British Cycling and who worked alongside Freeman both there and at Team Sky, stormed out of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service hearing in Manchester on 12 November as he was being questioned by Mary O’Rourke QC, saying, “I don’t need to be dragged into this shit fight.”

> "I don’t need to be dragged into this shit fight" - Shane Sutton storms out of Richard Freeman hearing

Freeman has admitted 18 of the 22 charges against him, including ordering the patches, but denies that they were intended for use by an athlete.

Instead, he insists that he was bullied into obtaining them for Sutton, whom he claims was suffering from erectile dysfunction – something the Australian firmly rejects.

Last week, O’Rourke urged the tribunal that Sutton’s to rule Sutton’s evidence inadmissible since it was incomplete, but her argument was rejected.

> Freeman tribunal: Former British Cycling doctor suffers blow as panel says Shane Sutton testimony is admissible

BBC News reports that when the hearing resumed yesterday the QC, who had accused Sutton of being “a liar, a doper and a bully” claimed that Sutton’s departure from the tribunal was because he found her questioning “too hot to handle.”

She said: “I got a hostile attitude because he knows the truth about what happened here.

"If you have nothing to hide you don't behave in that manner, you don't start becoming abusive and banging the table," she said.

"He fled before questions he knew were coming. He knew there was more material that would compromise him.

"He left because it was too hot to handle, not because of what I was saying."

After a recording of the session at which Sutton gave evidence was replayed to the tribunal, O’Rourke said: “A witness of truth doesn't behave in that way, a witness of truth doesn't misperceive he's bullied.

"A witness who has something to hide is going to be suspicious from the off.

"A witness who knows what he's done and told lies and knows well about drugs, and the use and abuse of them, is a witness who goes on the offensive.

"A witness of truth doesn't abuse counsel and Richard Freeman, who he calls a friend.

"He's come along with agenda. Is he a liar? Yes. He got caught out."

Freeman himself did not attend yesterday’s session since he was said to be "upset" over weekend media coverage of the case, which looks set to run beyond its scheduled finish date of 20 December into the New Year.

However, O’Rourke says that her client, who has not returned to the tribunal since Sutton gave evidence, would be unable to appear then, since his own doctor has prescribed him a skiing holiday.


Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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