Ex-cycling chief Shane Sutton not to show for Freeman tribunal
Sharp exchanges trigger walkout after defending counsel brands witness ‘serial liar’
Shane Sutton: ‘I haven’t lied. He’s hiding behind a screen, which is spineless.’ Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Former head coach of British Cycling and Team Sky Shane Sutton has refused to return to Dr Richard Freeman’s medical tribunal despite efforts to persuade him to change his mind after he stormed out on Tuesday.
Sutton was the UK General Medical Council’s (GMC) star witness in its case against Freeman, who faces charges that he ordered the banned substance Testogel in order to dope an unnamed cyclist.
However, Sutton has decided not to face further cross-examination in Manchester on Thursday after being branded a serial liar and a doper in two hours of explosive exchanges with Freeman’s QC, Mary O’Rourke. Dr Steve Peters, the former head of medicine at British Cycling, will be appearing instead.
Freeman’s legal team will consider whether to ask for Sutton’s evidence to be struck from the record, taken only in part, or given less weight.
On Tuesday Sutton strenuously denied allegations that he bullied Freeman into ordering the Testogel in 2011 in order to treat his erectile dysfunction, telling O’Rourke: “You are telling the press I can’t get a hard on – my wife wants to testify that you are a bloody liar.”
Sutton rejected as “laughable” a statement from an unnamed witness who claimed he had seen the Australian inject testosterone at his house. Sutton pointed out that he had never tested positive in more than 100 tests during his professional career.
However, Sutton did not reply when O’Rourke accused him of sending Freeman “some pretty hostile texts”, before reading one out: “Be careful what you say,” it read. “I can drag you in – you won’t be the only person I can hurt.”
Hidden behind screen
Sutton snapped when O’Rourke suggested that in his statement to the GMC he had assumed there was more than one box of Testogel placed in the order in 2011. “I don’t need to be dragged through this shit fight that this individual is trying to bring on me,” replied Sutton. “I was asked to come here and answer whether I ordered Testogel. I did not.”
Sutton then addressed Freeman, who was hidden behind a screen while he was giving evidence because he is considered a vulnerable witness. “He was like the Scarlet Pimpernel. I covered his backside while he was there. Two critical cases of athletes ill and we couldn’t get hold of him. If you bring Steve Peters in, he would verify it all.
“I haven’t lied. He’s hiding behind a screen, which is spineless. Richard, you’re a spineless individual.”
Freeman has already accepted 18 of the 22 charges against him, including ordering Testogel, trying to cover his tracks and lying to UK Anti-Doping when questioned about the case.
The tribunal continues.