SKINS pledges support for Kimmage legal defense

Irish cyclist-turned-sports-writer has no access to a public defense fund that was set up on his behalf in response to a UCI lawsuit

Faced with the possibility of a legal case against him and the lack of a defense fund, cycling journalist Paul Kimmage is getting help from cycling clothing manufacturer SKINS.

SKINS chairman Jaime Fuller pledged the company’s support for Kimmage, who could have a defamation lawsuit against him re-launched by current and former UCI Presidents Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen. The pair dropped its lawsuit against the Irish journalist in October but can re-launch it at any time.

Kimmage, a former professional bike racer, spent much of his journalism career writing about doping in cycling. He accused Lance Armstrong and George Hincapie of taking illegal drugs and implied that McQuaid, Verbruggen, and the UCI knew about the sport’s doping problems.

A legal defense made of public donations was set up for Kimmage after the original lawsuit, and the account was managed by Aaron Brown — who is known in cycling circles by his Twitter handle, @UCI_Overlord. But Brown is refusing to release details of the account — or any of its money — to Kimmage. This has left Kimmage with no money to defend himself if another lawsuit is levied upon him.

“The sudden lack of transparency surrounding the defense account has left Paul exposed,” Fuller said in a press release. “He is very concerned the UCI could take advantage of his lack of access to the fund and re-launch an action against him that outraged the cycling fraternity. As a huge fan of Paul and what he stands for, we couldn’t let that happen. So if he incurs legal expenses in relation to defending future UCI action while continuing to be denied access to the fund, we’ll support him to ensure he is able to defend himself.”

Kimmage said he is grateful for the support he’s been given.

“When all this started, I was humbled by the generosity of people who made donations into the fund on my behalf and it’s vital that the money is fully accounted for and that the account is run in accordance with the original intention,” he said. “At the moment, further legal costs incurred by defending the UCI case would be an impossible situation and I’m grateful to SKINS for stepping in to provide support.”