Kimmage speaks about his legal action, says McQuaid and Verbruggen need to be removed immediately
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Thursday, November 01, 2012

Kimmage speaks about his legal action, says McQuaid and Verbruggen need to be removed immediately

by Shane Stokes at 5:52 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Doping
 
Irish journalist on his push for a criminal investigation into UCI chiefs

Paul KimmageDescribing the current moment in time as an ‘absolutely pivotal’ moment for cycling, Paul Kimmage has argued that the sport will not be able to move on from its doping-afflicted past unless there is real and lasting change in the UCI.

He said the current president Pat McQuaid and the former head Hein Verbruggen both need to go, and that he hoped the legal action he launched today is the mechanism which will force that to happen.

“In some ways, the most essential part there is accountability, and that we see that McQuaid and Verbruggen are removed from their positions immediately,” the journalist told VeloNation today. “Unless that happens, this is a chance that is going to be wasted.

“There is a lot that needs to be done to fix the sport, and it doesn’t end with them going. That is only the first thing that has to happen. But unless that happens, there is no chance. Unless McQuaid and Verbruggen are removed from their positions, there is no chance of the sport moving on. It starts with those two guys.”

Six days after McQuaid and Verbruggen suspended their legal action against him for defamation, Kimmage counter attacked today and launched his own court case. He announced earlier that he and his lawyer Cédric Aguet have lodged a criminal complaint and denunciation against Vebruggen and McQuaid, requesting the opening of a criminal investigation for ‘slander/defamation, denigration and for strong suspicions of fraud.’

He also claims that there are grounds to believe that Verbruggen may 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.’

Kimmage’s lawyer has lodged a 28 page document with 55 exhibits. The former pro has said he believes they have put together a strong file.

“I am very happy…Cédric has done some great work,” said Kimmage. “I spoke to him today and he things we have got a very, very strong case and he fully expects that the prosecutor is going to take it and investigate it. It should move pretty fast.

“We’ve lodged a criminal complaint against both of them on different levels. For a start, there’s defamation…it's over the way they have come after me for the last year and dragged my name through the mud. But the backdrop is also a suspicion of fraud…the suspicion that they were fraudulent in their dealings with Armstrong and they enabled him to dope, and to get away with, it, basically. That is the subtext of it.”

Both Verbruggen and McQuaid have denied any improper dealings with Armstrong in the past. They have said that large donations he made to the UCI are completely unconnected with suspicious anti-doping results during the 2001 Tour de Suisse, and that no favours were given in exchange for the money.

The Texan contributed $25, 000 to the UCI in May 2002 and pledged a bigger sum of $100,000 in 2005. Despite the controversy that this has generated, McQuaid said last week that the UCI would continue to accept donations from big riders. He justified it by saying that the governing body didn’t have much money.

Others such as the anti-doping scientist Michael Ashenden have said that they consider it completely wrong for the UCI to accept money from those which it must also test.

Armstrong was sanctioned by the US Anti Doping Agency in August after he declined to fight doping charges against him. USADA handed him a lifetime ban from sport and stripped all of his results since August 1998. It subsequently published its reasoned decision, which featured over 1,000 pages of evidence, including witness statements, financial records, emails and more.

Last week the UCI said it would not appeal the sanction. It held a management committee meeting on Friday where it was decided that it would agree to an independent commission looking into the Armstrong/USADA saga and the UCI’s handling of the matter. The details of that are yet to be worked out, but a date of June 1st 2013 has been set as the final deadline for completion of the review.

Kimmage said he felt compelled to fight on:


That management committee meeting also saw McQuaid and Verbruggen decide to put their legal action against Kimmage on hold. The Irishman admitted today that he had very mixed feelings afterwards, with the thoughts of letting the matter subside being initially very tempting to him. However he ultimately decided to push on, firing up his own legal action.

“Being totally honest about this, when I heard that they had suspended the case against, me I was very relieved,” he admitted to VeloNation. “There was an absolutely huge temptation for me to say ‘thank God for that, and now I’m getting on with my life.’

“To be honest, I wanted to get out of this. I feel like I’ve paid my dues, and I just wanted to get on with other things. ‘Destroyed’ is a big word, but I haven’t been able to concentrate on anything else for almost two months now because of what they were doing to me. As a result, when they announced that they were suspending the case, it was a huge relief to me. It would have been very tempting for me to just let it go.”

However he said that on reflection, thinking outside his own personal situation, he felt compelled to push onwards. The backing he has received from people is a big factor, and so too the donations to an online defence fund which showed him the strength of feeling currently in the sport.

“Because of the good will that is being extended to me by so many cycling fans, because of all of those people who have been so supportive to me in the last few months, I had to take the fight now to McQuaid and Verbruggen,” he explained. “I felt they have to be held accountable for the way they have governed this sport for the past twenty years, and so I felt an obligation to counter-sue them.”

Fellow whistleblowers also a factor:


In Kimmage’s statement today, he listed a number of former riders as being a big motivation for him in this matter. He mentioned Stephen Swart, Frankie Andreu, Floyd Landis, Christophe Bassons, Nicolas Aubier, Giles Delion and Graham Obree as being amongst those ‘who were brave enough to speak but were dismissed as ‘liars’, ‘cowards,’ or ‘scumbags’ by Hein Verbruggen and/or Pat McQuaid.’

He made clear that he was pushing on for them. “This is not about me, it is about all of the people who have tried to stand up for the sport for the last twenty years and who have, to say the least, been shabbily treated. It’s for those who have been driven out of the sport by both Verbruggen and McQuaid,” he said.

“I’ve listed some people there – Aubier and Delion and notably Floyd, obviously. It is about them, really. There are obviously others, such as Betsy Andreu and Emma O’Reilly, but I just kept it to the cyclists. They are forefront in my mind. Anyone who ever tried to stand up was driven from the sport, basically.”

McQuaid has defended the UCI’s position and said that it has no blame to share in relation to the doping problems that affected the sport, and the fact that Armstrong and his teams were able to dominate seven Tours de France without being caught.

He’s denied that the UCI has any obligation to apologise, and believes that an independent commission will show that the governing body did not act improperly.

Kimmage said that while the notion of such a commission is a step forward, that he believes that it may not go far enough. Because of that, he sees the legal action lodged today as something which could prove more significant.

“As much as I would love to think that this independent review is going to hold them to account, I am not sure about that,” he said. “But I do think the Swiss police will probably do a better job on that. As we have seen in the sport for the past twenty years, it is only when we have got an external body like the police or the customs involved that we have actually found out what was going on. So that’s why this is very important.”

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