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Kimmage: An apology to the UCI is laughable

  • By Gregor Brown
  • Published Oct. 5, 2012
Paul Kimmage is the rider-turned-journalist in the crosshairs of a lawsuit from Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen. Photo: Graham Watson | www.grahamwatson.com

MILAN (VN) — Professional road cycling enters its offseason after Sunday’s Paris-Tours and next week’s Tour of Beijing, but the international cycling federation, the UCI, is busy with Irish journalist Paul Kimmage and other legalities.

The UCI expects the U.S. Postal Service case files from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in the next 10 days. UCI president Pat McQuaid must then give his official stamp of approval on USADA stripping the Texan of all seven of his Tour de France wins or appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the high court for international sport.

The UCI distributed a press release Wednesday to inform the public that it had won its case against dethroned 2006 Tour winner Floyd Landis. A Swiss district court ruled in favor of the UCI — a “judgment by default” — and ordered Landis to keep quiet on doping cover-ups, apologize to the UCI, and pay fines.

Kimmage, a journalist formerly with The Sunday Times in London, is next. He received a subpoena in a UCI lawsuit to appear in the same Swiss court on December 12. His case is linked to Landis’ and centers on the UCI allegedly covering up positive doping controls from Armstrong in the 2001 Tour de Suisse. Landis first alledged the cover-up in 2010, and again with Kimmage in January of 2011 as part of an interview. Kimmage wrote of the claims in Sunday Times articles, and spoke of them in an interview with France’s L’Equipe newspaper. He was also critical of McQuaid and former UCI president Hein Verbruggen. The Switzerland-based federation is suing Kimmage, instead of going after the publishers of the newspaper.

“Maybe it is normal, but you might ask them when they did that before to give you examples when they’ve [sued] a journalist and not a publication,” Kimmage told VeloNews last week. “I don’t remember that ever happening.”

McQuaid said during the world championships two week ago, “We’ve also done the same thing against Floyd Landis, so it’s not a question of press, it’s a question of who says what.”

In a press release on Monday, the UCI wrote, “Mr. Kimmage had made false accusations that defamed the UCI and its presidents, and which tarnished their integrity and reputation… The UCI will defend itself against all such accusations as any other citizen or entity has the right to do.”

Kimmage explained that he has not seen or spoken with McQuaid or Verbruggen, largely because The Sunday Times laid him off in January as part of cutbacks. He added, “I very much look forward to it.”

The UCI reported an income of 26.8 million Swiss Francs ($28,616,000) for 2011, so it is able to afford lawyers to argue its case. However, NYVelocity.com and Cyclismas.com came to the unemployed Kimmage’s aid and created a defense fund. It stood at $52,420 on Friday and would enable him a proper legal defense against the UCI. Landis did not fight the federation’s lawsuit and the court ruled in favor of the UCI in a “judgement by default.”

“Essentially, it’s not about me,” Kimmage said of the fund. “Outside of my immediate circle of friends who may have contributed, I believe [for] everybody else… it’s about [the UCI's] incompetence.”

Kimmage went head-to-head with the world’s governing body as early as 1989, when he retired as a cyclist and began writing Rough Ride. The book documented doping within the sport. He continued his work as a journalist with Sunday Tribune in Dublin, Ireland, The Sunday Independent in Dublin and, from 2002 to 2012, The Sunday Times in London. During that time, he covered at least 10 editions of the Tour de France, once embedded with American squad Garmin.

“It’s definitely harder to find work [as a journalist],” Kimmage said. “We are important, we fulfill an important role in society if we are doing our jobs properly and we play a significant role in how the world works.”

The UCI seeks around 8,000 Swiss francs ($8,500) and a printed apology. Kimmage, however, said he will push on and fight.

“The notion that I would apologize in the first place is laughable,” Kimmage said. “The notion that I can do so now, given how many people have stood up for me and have put their hands in their pockets for me, makes it even more improbable. It’s just up to me now to go and take them on.”

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