(AFP) – Former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman's disciplinary hearing on misconduct charges has been delayed again, the medical practitioners tribunal service (MPTS) said Tuesday.
The hearing was meant to start at the MPTS' headquarters in Manchester on February 6 but was immediately adjourned after an application by Freeman's lawyers.
Although the reasons behind the application have not been made public, they are thought to be related to Freeman's mental health.
The General Medical Council, the regulatory body for doctors in Britain, has alleged Freeman was involved in a cover-up after ordering large quantities of testosterone, a performance-enhancing drug banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, to be delivered to the National Cycling Centre, with the GMC saying he obtained 30 sachets of Testogel "to administer to an athlete to improve their athletic performance".
The tribunal has the power to stop any doctor from working in the United Kingdom.
"Please be advised that the preliminary legal argument being made in the hearing of Dr Freeman will continue throughout this week," said Tuesday's statement from the MPTS.
"This means that we do not expect a decision on the application until sometime next week."
Had the hearing started as scheduled, it was listed to last 20 working days until March 5.
But given it has still to get going, there now seems no way it can finish on time and with the likes of judges, lawyers and witnesses having other commitments, it may be that no verdict is delivered until next year.
Freeman was also the doctor at the centre of the so-called 'Jiffy Bag' scandal which saw Sky accused of a suspected anti-doping violation regarding a mystery package reportedly destined for star rider Bradley Wiggins in 2011.
However, a UK Anti-Doping investigation concluded without any charges having been brought.
Freeman has previously denied all doping charges against him.
He resigned from British Cycling in October 2017 after telling the national governing body he was too ill to face disciplinary action for poor medical record-keeping.
Team Sky's future was thrown into doubt last month after British media company Sky announced it was ending a partnership that has delivered six Tour de France titles in the past seven years.
Any delay in resolving Freeman's case and the ensuing speculation could hinder Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford's attempts to find a new sponsor when the current deal expires at the end of this year.
Wiggins, riding for Sky, became Britain's first Tour de France champion in 2012.
Sky team-mate Chris Froome won four Tour de France titles and Geraint Thomas became the team's third winner of cycling's landmark event in 2018.