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Shane Sutton storms out of medical tribunal after denying doping claims

Shane Sutton is the former head of British Cycling and Team Sky. Credit: PA

In ancient Rome they’d have paid good money to watch the jaw-dropping theatre playing out at the Medical Practioners Tribunal Service in Manchester.

Giving evidence, Shane Sutton, the former head coach at the medal factories of British Cycling and Team Sky; asking the questions Mary O’Rourke, barrister for Sutton’s former colleague, Doctor Richard Freeman, who is accused of ordering a batch of testosterone for an unnamed rider to improve their performance.

Freeman denies what is obviously an incredibly damaging charge, maintaining he took delivery of the banned drug for Sutton to treat his erectile dysfunction.

Sutton wasn’t having any of it, but more of that later.

Dr Richard Freeman gave evidence from behind a screen. Credit: PA

O’Rourke gave an indication of how she was going to attack Tuesday’s interrogation before Sutton even entered the room, labelling him a serial liar and doper with a history of doping.

When he was there to hear those accusations first-hand, she added "bully" for good measure.

All of that based, she said, on testimony given to her by a number of as yet, unnamed individuals.

Dr Freeman is being treated as a vulnerable witness and so he was sat just a few metres away behind a screen, shielding him from Sutton’s gaze.

On numerous occasions throughout the session Sutton appealed to Freeman to pull down the screen and look him in the eye; on one occasion he even told him to “man up”.

Both were offers Freeman did not take up.

Shane Sutton denies any wrong doing. Credit: PA

O’Rourke began by questioning Sutton about his cycling past and his time as an elite rider.

He very quickly became frustrated and soon after that irritated.

"I’ve spent two days sitting here and I’ve been asked about my career.

"It’s quite frustrating that we’re talking about an old dilapidated rider from 40 years ago," he told the tribunal.

The tension increased as the testimony continued.

It got to a stage where Sutton questioned the whole process: "Am I the one on trial here?

"I feel like I am the criminal," he said.

Mr Sutton became annoyed with the line of questioning on Tuesday. Credit: PA

It was then that O’Rourke hit him with a devastating allegation that she had a witness statement from someone who said not only did they see vials of testosterone in Sutton’s fridge at his home in the late ‘90s but they also saw him inject it, in his kitchen.

"Laughable" Sutton replied and then asked who made the accusation.

O’Rourke said it was from an anonymous source.

O’Rourke’s carefully planned cross examination was punctuated throughout by Sutton trying to move the conversation back to the core reason why he was there; the order of testosterone.

"You call me a serial liar and you don’t even know me," Sutton told his inquisitor.

"You’re the bully," he said repeatedly.

He even threatened the barrister with a defamation case and offered to take a lie detector test.

The hearing centres around a batch of testosterone. Credit: PA

At one stage, O’Rourke told Sutton about a number of text messages she had seen from him sent to Freeman about the testosterone delivery.

The one she chose to share with the tribunal read: “Be careful what you say, don’t drag me into this, you’re not the only person I can hurt.”

By mid-afternoon, when O’Rourke suggested Sutton was concerned he’d get brought into the whole testosterone affair he’d reached his limit and decided enough was enough and in effect launched into a closing speech.

"Ms O’Rourke you’re lying through your back teeth and so is your client, I’ve never been concerned I’d get dragged into it.

"You need Richard behind the screen there to stand up, be a man and tell the truth.

"The truth is dead simple.

"Did I ask Richard to order this?

"No...

"I’ve come here, I’ve taken your questions, I’ve taken your bullying.

"I’m not lying, I’ve never lied, I’m going to leave the hearing now.

"I don’t need to live through this s*** fight.

"I can sleep well, I did not order any gels.

"The person lying is behind the screen.

"You’re a spineless individual and I don’t need to be part of this anymore."

With that he stood up, stormed out, saying he was off for a smoke.

After a short time to cool off, Sutton addressed the media outside the tribunal building saying he would sleep on what had happened, consult his family and consider coming back to continue his evidence on Thursday.