SOME of last week’s most intriguing sporting action has taken place not on a track or a pitch, but at a medical tribunal.

On Tuesday, the hearing of Dr Richard Freeman, the former doctor of British Cycling and Team Sky, resumed and it has made for quite extraordinary watching.

Freeman faces being struck off after accepting 18 of the 22 charges against him, but is contesting the other four, with the most eye-catching being the accusation he ordered the banned substance testosterone to the British Cycling velodrome in 2011 while “knowing or believing” it was intended to be used to boost an athlete’s performance.

Last week he admitted destroying a laptop with “a screwdriver or blunt instrument” before handing it to forensic experts who were conducting a doping investigation looking into the now infamous “jiffy bag” story involving Bradley Wiggins and the contents of said jiffy bag at the Criterium du Dauphine in 2011.

This destroyed laptop came hot on the heels of its predecessor, which was also full of medical data, being apparently stolen on a Greek island, never to be seen again.

We are three days into the resumption of the hearing and Freeman is not coming out of this well. He has been shown to have told a number of lies to cover up his actions and many of his recollections have been disputed by many parties.

He has also admitted to not being “particularly proficient” with the World Anti-Doping Agency code, which is quite a statement from a doctor who was charged with Bradley Wiggins’ medical care, as well as the British Olympic cycling teams in London in 2012 and Rio in 2016, and who presented himself as an expert in anti-doping.

It is easy to wonder why events from nine years ago are being dissected in such minute detail. Is it really worth all of this time, effort and distress it is causing all involved, primarily Freeman, who has admitted to suffering from mental health issues as a result of the investigation into his conduct?

But this case is hugely important, as it involves so many of the main players in cycling, one of Britain’s most successful and popular sports over the past decade. Dozens of World and Olympic medallists, as well as Tour de France winners have been developed by the men who feature heavily in this case.

British Cycling’s former performance director Dave Brailsford’s right-hand man, and one of the top coaches, Shane Sutton, and Dr Steve Peters, who has been credited with honing the minds of Britain’s top cyclists, have all been spoken of in the first few days of the hearing and are particularly heavily involved in the evidence against Freeman.

This hearing is expected to run until the end of next month, but already, it is easy to wonder if its conclusion is going to leave us with more questions than answers.

It is unlikely that all the facts will be unearthed at the hearing with some vital evidence now apparently lost in the ether.

In the first instance, two laptops – the stolen one and the destroyed one – were not backed up and so there is no way of ever finding out exactly what was on those hard drives.

And herein lies the huge issue for British Cycling. What has already come out in Freeman’s hearing is pretty damning, but the problem when there are gaps in the story is that people begin to fill them in themselves.

The more the protagonists in this hearing argue about the exact turn of events, the more vague the story becomes.

Everybody is aware of the dark past of road racing when it comes to doping, but Team Sky entered the sport as the great white hope, the team who would win without using untoward means that dozens and dozens of riders had employed previously.

For years, many bought into Team Sky and lauded their victories as a win for clean sport. Similarly, there have been few accusations against Britain’s track cycling team that they climbed to the top of the sport through anything other than legitimate means.

But as more information emerges, these squeaky clean reputations are being damaged.

Sutton himself has previously admitted Wiggins behaved “unethically” in taking injections of a corticosteroid before grand tours in 2011 and 2013 and his milestone 2012 victory at the Tour de France, with another senior official describing it as “cheating within the rules”.

But these allegations against Freeman go beyond that; they are accusations of full-blown cheating.

Perhaps more clarity will emerge over the coming days and weeks as the hearing continues.

Perhaps, though, as more individuals come forward with their evidence and, if the past few days are anything to go by, more and more disputes about the correct version of events emerge, we will be left with many more unanswered questions.

This hearing will be hugely damaging to Freeman. But it could also prove to be hugely damaging to the reputation of the sport in this country.