As if the UCI/Armstrong/USADA case could get any more convoluted, a Swiss court has found former Tour de France winner Floyd Landis guilty of defamation against the International Cycling Union after claims he made during a German TV interview back in 2010 regarding payments for silence. Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 TdF title for his own doping violations, had stated that the UCI accepted money from Lance Armstrong in order to assure their non-action after a positive test in the 2001 Tour de Suisse. The UCI, for their part, concur that a payment of $100,000 (£62,200) was offered and accepted, but that this was a donation to help finance anti-doping measures. Landis has been banned from repeating the allegations, ordered to pay compensation of 10,000 Swiss Francs (£6,630) to both current and former UCI presidents Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen and been obliged to publish the courts verdict at his own expense in a number of publications which are believed to include L’Equipe and the Wall Street Journal. A post-hearing UCI statement read: ‘The defamation judgment upholds and protects the integrity of the UCI and its presidents.’
In two month’s time the same court will hear a further defamation case, this time against Irish journalist Paul Kimmage, brought by the UCI. The former Sunday Times journalist had made, and reported on, similar allegations to those of Landis (and had interviewed Landis as part of his reporting) and his book ‘Rough Ride’ also seems to have irked the UCI. Regarding their legal action against Kimmage the UCI have stated: ‘Mr. Kimmage had made false accusations that defamed the UCI and its Presidents, and which tarnished their integrity and reputation… Mr. Kimmage is free to express and make public his opinions within the limits of the law and of the truth. False accusations are unacceptable and unlawful and the UCI will defend itself against all such accusations as any other citizen or entity has the right to do.’ Supporters of Kimmage (and, arguably, free speech) have launched a support fund to help meet legal costs; £26,000 has been raised to date.