MILAN (VN) — Paul Kimmage can forget about spending time with his three children or writing a rugby player’s autobiography, because the UCI is still breathing down his neck. Despite expressing a desire to head down a new path in the wake of the Lance Armstrong doping case, UCI president Pat McQuaid said Monday that Kimmage was still in the federation’s sights.
“It’s a defamation case,” McQuaid said. “A guy who calls me corrupt, and calls the institution that I lead, the 100 people that work in it every day, I can’t accept that and I have to defend that. I don’t like to do it, I don’t want to do it, but I’m forced to do it.”
McQuaid and his predecessor, Hein Verbruggen, are suing the Irish journalist over an article he wrote in London’s Sunday Times, which detailed a seven-hour interview with Floyd Landis, and an interview he gave to France’s L’Equipe newspaper last year. The UCI heads say Kimmage was “dishonest” in accusing them of being irresponsible and not applying the rules fairly.
The Kimmage/UCI battle has gone on since 1989, when Kimmage retired as a cyclist and wrote “Rough Ride.” The book documented his four years in the pro ranks and the doping within. Since then, he has continued as a journalist, but his articles last year put him in hot water with the UCI. They highlighted the governing body’s acceptance of Armstrong’s $50,000 donation in 2002, tying it to allegations that the governing body overlooked positive doping test results for the banned American.
It could be argued that Kimmage’s work over the years helped bring cycling to the point it reached Monday, when McQuaid announced that the UCI would strip Armstrong’s Tour de France wins due to doping. One could also argue that Kimmage’s articles helped push the UCI to the point where McQuaid said, “This is a landmark day for cycling. Cycling has endured a lot of pain absorbing the USADA report… The UCI is listening and is prepared to listen. We’ve come too far in the fight against doping to return to the past.”
McQuaid said that the UCI would not drop its case against Kimmage, however. The two parties will square off December 12 in court in Switzerland.
“I would agree that he’s been a consistent anti-doping advocate,” McQuaid said. “But, I know Paul very well. I’ve known him since he was in the prom, I managed him during his amateur days. I was a good amateur in my day, and I took a decision not to go professional and went into college instead. He went to turn professional and then he took a position at one time in that career to dope, I [have] never done that, all I’ve done was work for this sport and for the benefit and the good of this sport for all my life.
“I will not stand — I’m very privileged to be elected to UCI president — I will not accept to be called corrupt. Absolutely,” McQuaid said.
Kimmage tuned into the live feed from home. In a radio interview with “Off the Ball,” he said, “[I felt] conflicting emotions of rage at the sheer brass neck of this guy and a sense of resignation and deflation, that no matter what happens he’s still going to be in that position for as long as he wants to be and accepts no accountability for what’s happened.”
He explained he found it laughable when McQuaid said that the USADA case and the UCI’s lawsuit against him are unrelated.
“To suggest that the interviews I did with Floyd Landis, which is the reason I’m being sued, has nothing to do with Lance Armstrong and the USADA report… What utter nonsense,” Kimmage said. “That was the whole point of the interview, the whole power of that interview, the steps that drove Floyd Landis, as Lance Armstrong’s teammate, to dope and the information that Floyd Landis got from Lance Armstrong in terms of how complicit the UCI was in that doping.”
Kimmage added, “What I would ask Pat McQuaid is this… Why don’t they pursue Lance Armstrong? He is the one that is slandering them by telling three of his teammates, ‘I have these guys in my pockets.’ Why isn’t McQuaid suing Armstrong?”
Kimmage was at rock bottom in January when he received initial notice of the UCI’s intentions, having just been laid-off at the Sunday Times, a firing he believes had something to do with his strong anti-doping articles. An internet group came to his rescue and created a defense fund, which on Wednesday stood at $69,000.
The fund should enable him to take on the UCI, though he was hoping the body would drop the case Monday, saying, “This is an absolute pain for me at this time.”