Skins launches legal claim against UCI chiefs for two million US dollars
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Sunday, November 04, 2012

Skins launches legal claim against UCI chiefs for two million US dollars

by Shane Stokes at 11:26 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Chairman Fuller repeats calls for resignations

SKINSThree days after the journalist Paul Kimmage announced that he had lodgd a criminal complaint against Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen, the current and former presidents of the UCI, the clothing company Skins has revealed that it too is launching legal action.

Last month its chairman Jaimie Fuller wrote an open letter to McQuaid complaining about the UCI’s relationship with Lance Armstrong, its acceptance of donations from him, its handling of the USADA case and its general anti-doping work.

“The Lance Armstrong scandal has exposed the sport to an embarrassing level of global disrepute. In short, world cycling is a mess and as President of the UCI, you and those of your colleagues charged with its executive management, must act now to restore confidence in world cycling or withdraw from office.”

He said that Skins and other companies had invested ‘considerable amounts of time and money’ into the sport and that they had been left exposed by how the sport had been run.

Two weeks later, the company has moved into action and sent a legal demand via the attorney Cédric Aguet, who is also representing Kimmage.

It points out that it has been an official supplier and sponsor of national federations since 2008, namely Cycling Australia, BikeNZ, USA Cycling, as well as the professional teams Rabobank, Europcar, NetApp, Telekom and Highroad. It also stated that it sponsors numerous UCI-sanctioned athletes.

“As a supplier and a sponsor, SKINS is particularly concerned by its brand image and since it strongly believes in the true spirit of competition, it is firmly against doping,” Aguet writes on behalf of Skins.

“When it decided to invest in cycling not only as a sponsor but also in extending its product range through massive investments in R&D, SKINS was under the illusion that professional cycling had been fundamentally reformed to contain doping and to minimise the risks of scandals with which the brand of any sponsor could be associated.

“It has now been proven that these legitimate expectations have been betrayed on the grounds you are aware of, which the press published at large. It has also been proven that the way the UCI, Henricus Verbruggen respectively Patrick McQuaid have organised the fight against doping, have communicated in that field and have then dealt with the case of Lance Armstrong is the main cause for the total loss of confidence in professional cycling by the public, which harms SKINS, as well as any other sponsor or supplier.”

Aguet said that because of those ‘acts and omissions,’ Skins has suffered prejudice, and that the costs of this exceed $2 million US. He said that the company now plans to recover this sum through the courts, unless a settlement is agreed.

The news ramps up the pressure on McQuaid and Verbruggen, particularly as they are being sued as individuals rather than as part of the UCI.

Skins chairman critical of inaction:

In an open letter printed today in connection with the court action, Fuller explained the company’s position and blasted the UCI duo.

“The recent report from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) which blew the lid off Lance Armstrong’s systematic control of widespread doping, proved that the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and its two leading figures, President Pat McQuaid and Honorary President For Life, Hein Verbruggen, have failed to eradicate cheating within the sport,” he wrote. “In fact, Mr. McQuaid and Mr. Verbruggen refused to even acknowledge that the problem was so entrenched until USADA forced them into submission.

“In short, we say that the UCI, Mr. McQuaid and Mr. Verbruggen have failed us, the sport and the public who love cycling. We also believe the USADA revelations of widespread doping activity have raised wider, cultural issues within the UCI relating to an apparent inability to rid the sport of doping over an extended period of time.”

He said that Skins’ investment had been damaged and, in addition to that, that the company’s trust in those at the top has been ‘crushed.’

McQuaid has said repeatedly that he doesn’t accept the UCI has any responsibility for what happened with Armstrong and the US Postal Service team, which ran a massive systematic doping programme which enabled it to win seven Tours de France.

He has resisted all calls for his resignation, saying that the UCI has worked hard on anti-doping.

The UCI recently said that it would allow an independent review, and that it hoped it would be concluded by June of next year. It is yet to reveal how that independent commission will be put together.

WADA’s director general David Howman told VeloNation this week that he would welcome the chance for WADA to be involved.

However Fuller states that the announcement of such a review doesn’t give him confidence. “The UCI has announced that it is will invite an independent commission to investigate cycling’s obvious problems but the fact that it took another organisation’s report to force them into action (and greatly delayed action) is a disgraceful reflection of incompetence at best,” he wrote.

“It fills me with absolutely no confidence that the UCI is either capable of leading global rehabilitation or commissioning a suitably independent and unrestricted group to conduct the forensic enquiry the sport crucially requires. Those at the top have presided over the mess, so how can they possibly be given the responsibility of commissioning and overseeing its review?”

He concluded that he sees no way for the duo to continue to lead the sport forward. “The unequivocal overhaul of cycling can only be achieved by a credible and capable governing body. In serving this action, Skins’ is also serving notice that the UCI is not currently the organisation that cycling needs it to be. For the last 22 years, there have been 2 people at the head of this organisation and we allege that they are directly responsible for the culture of denial within the UCI. It’s past time for change.”


Skins' Letter of Demand:



By fax and registered post:

Union Cycliste International

By registered post:

Patrick McQuaid

Henricus Verbruggen

Lausanne, 2 November 2012

CA / gv

Skins International Trading Ag vs. Union Cycliste Internationale, Patrick McQuaid and Henricus Verbruggen

Dear Sirs,

I inform you that I represent and defend Skins International Trading AG (hereinafter referred to as "SKINS"), which elects domicile in my Law Firm. A copy of the power of attorney in my favour is attached hereto.

As you know, SKINS has been an official supplier and a sponsor of national federations and professional cycling teams since 2008, among which Cycling Australia, BikeNZ, USA Cycling, Rabobank Professional Cycling Team, Team Europcar, Team NetApp, Team Telekom and professional teams managed by Highroad Sports. In addition, SKINS sponsors numerous individual athletes sanctioned by the UCI.

As a supplier and a sponsor, SKINS is particularly concerned by its brand image and since it strongly believes in the true spirit of competition, it is firmly against doping.

When it decided to invest in cycling not only as a sponsor but also in extending its product range through massive investments in R&D, SKINS was under the illusion that professional cycling had been fundamentally reformed to contain doping and to minimise the risks of scandals with which the brand of any sponsor could be associated.

It has now been proven that these legitimate expectations have been betrayed on the grounds you are aware of, which the press published at large. It has also been proven that the way the UCI, Henricus Verbruggen respectively Patrick McQuaid have organised the fight against doping, have communicated in that field and have then dealt with the case of Lance Armstrong is the main cause for the total loss of confidence in professional cycling by the public, which harms SKINS, as well as any other sponsor or supplier. Therefore, the acts and omissions by the UCI, Henricus Verbruggen respectively Patrick McQuaid have caused the prejudice SKINS now suffers, which prejudice exceeds the amount of USD 2,000,000, sum which the latter intends to recover through the Courts.

Before proceeding, I would be thankful if you could let me know by return of mail if a settlement could be envisioned.

While expecting your news,

I remain

Yours sincerely,

Cédric Aguet, att.



Today's open letter by Jaimie Fuller, Skins chairman:

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