Journalist Paul Kimmage has ridden the rising tides of the Lance Armstrong investigation and a public keen to support him to Swiss criminal court, where he’s filed a defamation suit against the Union Cyclste Internationale’s leadership.
The move marks a turning of the tables in the relationship between Kimmage, an Irish journalist who was among the first to lift the lid on doping in international cycling, and the UCI, which was due to battle Kimmage in court over his allegations that the UCI was corrupt in it handling an alleged 2001 Lance Armstrong positive test a the Tour de Suisse.
In the wake of the Armstrong case, the UCI’s Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid suspended their suit against Kimmage, but now, it’s the journalist on the attack, emboldened by a seething public and a defense fund that raised more than $85,835 in his name to combat the cycling union’s legal attack.
Kimmage’s lawsuit files a criminal complaint against Verbruggen and McQuaid “for slander/defamation, denigration and for strong suspicions of fraud,” according to a November 1 release from his attorney, Cédric Aguet. The complaint was sent to the public prosecutor of Vevey, Switzerland, and was distributed among the cycling media.
The 28-page document, with 55 exhibits, alleges that Kimmage “was dragged through the mud (and) called a liar in public” after obtaining the publication of an interview with Floyd Landis, who criticized the conduct of the UCI and its management.
Aguet said his client “informs the Swiss criminal authorities of the strong suspicions which weigh on at least Hein Verbruggen to have granted, directly or indirectly, the essential assistance which allowed Lance Armstrong to gain significant sums of money in and out of competition while he was doped.”
Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton alleged under oath that Armstrong told them how the UCI helped cover up a positive doping test from the 2001 Tour de Suisse. Other witnesses, including support staffer Emma O’Reilly, alleged that U.S. Postal Service staff produced a back-dated medical prescription to excuse a positive cortisone test at the 1999 Tour de France. The governing body has denied these claims.
“[The allegations] are absolutely untrue, when you study the papers in the file related to the 1999 cortisone and the 2001 Tour of Switzerland, you’d see that there was nothing to be bought off,” McQuaid has said. “The UCI absolutely denies that that ever happened.”
Kimmage wrote about these allegations in articles for London’s Sunday Times last year and spoke of them in an interview with France’s L’Equipe newspaper. The UCI sued Landis and won its case against the former Armstrong teammate, who did not fight the federation’s charges, and was initially due to face off with Kimmage on December 12 in a Swiss court.