UCI President to Sue Journalist Paul Kimmage for Defamation

January 30, 2012

International Cycling Union (UCI) President Pat McQuaid, generic his predecessor Hein Hein Verbruggen and the governing body itself are reportedly suing former pro cyclist turned author and journalist Paul Kimmage for defamation.

According to a report in the Irish Independent, McQuaid, Verbruggen and the UCI claim in papers said to have been filed at the Swiss district court that stories by Kimmage published principally in The Sunday Times and L’Equipe have seriously damaged their reputations. Each is claiming damages of 8,000 Swiss Frances (£5,540).

According to the newspaper, the 49-year-old Kimmage, whose award-winning autobiography Rough Ride, published in 1990, shed light on doping within the peloton, is said to have been “dishonest” in his allegations against McQuaid, Verbruggen and the UCI.

Those are said to include having accused them of “having knowingly tolerated tests, of being dishonest people, of not having a sense of responsibility, [and] of not applying the same rules to everyone.”

Should Kimmage lose, he could be required to take out advertisements in newspapers worldwide to communicate the court’s decision, paid for out of his own pocket.

As the Irish Independent notes, one curiosity of the case is that it is Kimmage being sued, not the newspapers that published the articles.
However, it should be pointed out that in November it was reported that he was to lose his staff position at The Sunday Times.

McQuaid was Kimmage’s manager in the Ireland cycling team that took part in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, and there are a number of similarities between the two men.

Both are from Dublin and belong to Irish cycling dynasties, with fathers who had been national road race champion and brothers who also entered the sport – six in McQuaid’s case, two in Kimmage’s.

Each won the Irish national road race title during successful amateur careers before going on to brief but unspectacular professional careers – their biggest impact on the sport coming through the activities they chose to undertake post-retirement.

In their current roles, each have regularly clashed, including over the allegations Floyd Landis has made about doping by Lance Armstrong and the US Postal Service team. Last year, the UCI confirmed that McQuaid and Verbruggen were to sue Landis over his accusations that the governing body had covered up a positive test for EPO involving seven-time Tour de France winner Armstrong.

There have been no further developments in that case, but one theory being advanced on forums is that in taking action against Landis and now Kimmage, the UCI and its past and current president are attempting effectively to gag them ahead of any revelations that may result from the ongoing enquiry in the US into doping that is centred around Armstrong and US Postal Service.

In November 2010, Landis gave a five-hour interview to Kimmage that formed the basis of an article in The Sunday Times in which the former US Postal Service and Phonak rider, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France, made a series of allegations against Armstrong and the UCI.