The UCI announced on Wednesday that the governing body, as well as its current and former presidents, have filed a defamation suit against deposed 2006 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis.
Landis, who a year ago, levelled allegations against former teammate Lance Armstrong, also said that the UCI, under the leadership of former president Hein Verbruggen and his successor Pat McQuaid, had chosen to ignore doping evidence against the seven-time Tour de France winner.
Landis alleged that the UCI conspired with Armstrong to suppress an alleged positive doping result, an act soon followed up by a substantial donation to the UCI from Armstrong. McQuaid has acknowledged that the UCI had received a $100,000 donation from Armstrong in 2005, following a pledge to do so in 2002. The governing body used that money to by blood analysis equipment. McQuaid and other UCI officials have said the donation never presented a conflict of interest.
Landis suggested that the payment was a quid-pro-quo donation, following the suppression of a positive test result. Armstrong and Landis were teammates on the U.S. Postal team from 2002 to 2004. Landis left the team and joined Phonak in 2005 and won the 2006 Tour, but was soon stripped of his title following a positive for testosterone.
Landis has raised many of the same allegations for the past year and the UCI has sent a series of threatening letters asking him to retract his statements, which he has declined to do. Landis’ charges against Armstrong, meanwhile, triggered an expansion of a federal investigation in doping in cycling and other sports. Past teammates of Landis and Armstrong have been subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury in Los Angeles over the past several months.
On Wednesday, the UCI said it was filing a civil action against Landis due to his “repeated, serious attacks” against the UCI, Verbruggen and McQuaid:
The International Cycling Union (UCI), its current President, Mr Pat McQuaid, and one of its former Presidents, Mr Hein Verbruggen, have lodged a case in the Swiss courts against Mr Floyd Landis regarding repeated, serious attacks against their characters.
By this step, made necessary by numerous unacceptable public statements by Mr Landis, the UCI is seeking to defend the integrity of the cycling movement as a whole against the accusations of a rider who, by breaching the Anti-doping Rules, caused cycling serious harm.
When contacted by VeloNews, Landis declined to comment until further information became available.