Shane Sutton stormed out of a medical tribunal in Manchester on Tuesday after being forced to defend himself against accusations of doping, lying and bullying.
The ex-head coach of British Cycling and Team Sky decided he had had enough two hours into questioning from Mary O’Rourke QC, representing Dr Richard Freeman, the former medic at the same organisations who is facing a fitness-to-practise hearing.
Sutton is at the heart of Freeman’s case as the latter has admitted a series of charges against him, including ordering 30 sachets of Testogel to British Cycling headquarters in 2011. Freeman claims the banned product was ordered for Sutton to treat an erectile dysfunction.
In an explosive end to the day’s proceedings, a furious Sutton said: “I’ve spent two days waiting to come up here, I’ve told the truth, I’ve answered your questions, taken your bullying, and my children have taken your gutter tactics in the press.
“She (O’Rourke) has accused me, but I’ve looked the panel in the eye, I’m not lying. I’m going to leave the hearing now. I don’t need to be dragged through this s**t fight she is dragging me through personally.
“I was asked by the GMC (General Medical Council) to come here to give an answer.
“I’m going to go back to my little hole in Spain, enjoy my retirement and sleep at night knowing full well I didn’t order any patches.”
Turning to Freeman, who has spent the hearing screened off from the public gallery for health reasons, Sutton added: “The person lying to you is behind the screen.
“Hopefully one day he will come clean. He’s a good bloke, good friend, I’ve no argument with him.
“I’m happy with what I achieved in my career. I wish Richard Freeman all the best going forward. There is no one better bedside than him.”
Becoming more animated as he continued, Sutton said: “The joint head of British Cycling wanted him out of the door. Dr Richard Freeman turned up to work drunk on several occasions. He was like the Scarlet Pimpernel.
“I covered for him when we couldn’t get hold of him for emergencies on weekends, I covered his backside, covered when he couldn’t be found. I’m not lying, I’ve told the truth, don’t ask me any more questions. Dr Steve Peters (former psychiatrist for British Cycling) will verify everything I’ve had to say.
“I’m not getting dragged by this mindless little individual (O’Rourke), living in her sad world, who is defending someone who has admitted to telling a million lies to you and the rest of the world, but can’t come out and tell the truth and is hiding behind a screen, which is spineless.
“Richard, you’re a spineless individual!”
Sutton was initially quizzed on his cycling background and what he knew about the sport’s tarnished history involving the likes of Floyd Landis and Lance Armstrong, and their use of testosterone and Testogel. He started to become animated at what he felt was the “pointless” nature of the questions.
O’Rourke then said she was in possession of a statement from an anonymous individual who had stated Sutton kept vials of testosterone in a former home in Rowley Regis and had seen him injecting it. Sutton described the accusation as “laughable”.
O’Rourke had earlier in the day described Sutton as a “habitual and serial liar and a doper with a doping history”.
She further reiterated the claim later in the day when she said she had statements from individuals who had “come forward in the last two weeks to tell us you are a liar a doper and a bully”.
It is the GMC’s case that Freeman obtained the Testogel in the knowledge, or belief, that it was to be given to an athlete to enhance performance.
On several occasions Sutton denied the Testogel was for his personal use, and urged Freeman “to come from behind the screen, man up, look me in the eye and tell me to my face that I ordered it”.
Turning on O’Rourke prior to his dramatic departure, Sutton said: “If I had ordered it, I would have no problem telling you it was for me.
“You’re telling me I can’t get a hard on in the press. My wife wants to testify and tell you you’re a bloody liar. It wasn’t for me and I never ordered it.”
At one stage, O’Rourke also referred to a text Sutton had sent Freeman at the end of last year. The text read: “Be careful what you say. Don’t drag me in. You won’t be the only person I can hurt.”
Sutton’s response was to accuse O’Rourke of bullying him with her line of questioning.
Sutton said: “Am I the one on trial here? I feel like I’m the criminal”.
He suggested he would be willing to “take a lie detector test” while threatening legal action of his own, adding: “I will do you for defamation. You have no evidence.”
After taking time to calm down, Sutton later told the media outside the hearing that he had got himself “into an emotional state”.
He said he would reflect on his situation and whether to return on Thursday – the tribunal is not sitting on Wednesday – after speaking with his family.