A Union Cycliste Internationale spokesperson says the UCI is “disappointed” in Irish journalist Paul Kimmage’s defamation suit against global cycling’s governing body, especially since the UCI dropped its own filing just days prior to the offensive.
“We note that Paul Kimmage has launched legal action against the UCI president Pat McQuaid and his predecessor Hein Verbruggen,” UCI communications director Enrico Carpani wrote to VeloNews in an e-mail on Sunday morning.
“Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen will, of course, fully cooperate with the judicial authorities should they decide to start an investigation and they are completely confident it will establish that Paul Kimmage’s complaint is without merit.”
Kimmage had been due in court to defend himself against a UCI-driven lawsuit over his writings about the governing body’s handling of an alleged Lance Armstrong positive test at the 2001 Tour de Suisse. The UCI suspended its suit, Carpani said, for the betterment of the sport amid the rubble of the Armstrong revelations.
“On 31 October 2011, the UCI, Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen had initiated court proceedings against him in order to protect their reputation against false and damaging accusations that he had made,” Carpani wrote.
“Nevertheless last week, while continuing strongly to maintain that Kimmage had defamed them, the UCI, Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen decided it was logical and appropriate — and for the greater good of cycling — to suspend legal action against him while the Independent Commission is under way … Paul Kimmage’s response in launching legal action is therefore disappointing.”
Kimmage’s slander and defamation suit, filed in Swiss court, charges that the journalist “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.”
With the move, the Kimmage issue has grown from a nuisance to a public-relations problem for the sport’s governing body, as it now faces both a lawsuit and the rising tide of public opinion.
A defense fund for Kimmage established when the UCI leveled its charges has collected more than $80,000 for the journalist’s defense against the UCI. That money, according to the fund’s organizers, will not be used on offense before those who donated to the fund are notified.
Some supporters needed no such notification.
“Paul, feel free to use my donation for offense, defense, or a couple of pints. Cheers, mate,” wrote one commenter on the VeloNews website. Another went even further: “Kimmage can even borrow my bike to get to court.”