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American former pro insists comments in his book have been taken out of context

American former professional cyclist Phil Gaimon has issued a statement seeking to clarify comments he made in his newly-published book, Draft Animals, regarding Fabian Cancellara in which he said the Swiss rider “probably did have a motor” when winning certain major races.

As we reported yesterday, lawyers acting on behalf of Cancellara, currently on his way to Las Vegas for a corporate event, have insisted that the book be withdrawn from distribution.

> Fabian Cancellara's lawyers demand recall of Phil Gaimon's book and apology over motor doping claims

The Swiss rider’s manager, meanwhile, has called on Gaimon, who like Cancellara retired in 2016, to issue a public apology for his remarks.

Tweeting a link to the page on his website where his statement has been published, former Cannondale-Drapac rider Gaimon said that the person who handles his PR is on holiday this week.

He insisted that the passage about Cancellara, who has vehemently denied using illegal mechanical assistance since accusations were first levelled against him after his Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix double in 2010, had been taken out of context.

“In Draft Animals, I repeated a rumour that’s well-documented and many years old, and I presented it as such,” Gaimon wrote.

“I stand by my opinion, but it’s exactly that, and anyone who actually opened the book would know that what I said was far from an ‘accusation’.

“Put a gun to my head and that’s what I believe so I’d be a liar if I left it out, but I claim no revelations or proof, so I don’t see it being ‘taken off the shelves’ except by the folks buying it.

“Ironically, that part in the book is dismissing conspiracy theories about motors today as clickbait, and it’s now been turned into clickbait.”

He continued: “My friendship with Tom Danielson is a big part of the story, so usually when I get hate mail, it’s calling me a hypocrite for not being enough of a ‘doper hater’.

“I didn’t expect this to be pulled out of context or turned into mudslinging, and I’m sorry for anyone who’s wasted time or energy on it. That’s not how I wanted to sell books, and it’s not worth this headache.

“There were some things I had to get off my chest and some tough times to share to give a picture of the sport as I experienced it, but if a juicy tell-all is what you’re looking for, don’t bother buying it.

“I don’t reference any scandal you haven’t heard before, and I’ll probably show empathy towards dopers that you want me to hate,” he added. “I expect that type of reader will be disappointed.”

Gaimon’s comments about Cancellara have been widely reported in the specialist cycling press and beyond, and the UCI has said that it may investigate the allegations.

> UCI may look into motor doping claims against Fabian Cancellara

In his book, he wrote:

I dismissed it [talk of a hidden motor] until I heard his former teammates talk about certain events where Cancellara had his own mechanic, his bike was kept separate from everyone else's, and he rode away from a ‘who's who’ of dopers.

When you watch the footage, his accelerations don't look natural at all, like he's having trouble staying on the top of the pedals.

That fucker probably did have a motor.

What will no doubt exercise the minds of lawyers on both sides, should the argument continue, is how much of what he wrote reflected what was already in the public domain – the fact that Cancellara was accused of using a concealed motor several years ago – and to what extent Gaimon was expressing an opinion that he believed that to be the case.

In the meantime, Draft Animals, published last month in the US by Penguin Books, remains on sale through Amazon and other outlets.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

17 comments

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HalfWheeler [663 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like

"True story: my PR guy is on vacation this week"

Which explains the clueless response.

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Woldsman [207 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes

Am I missing something here? Surely it’s one thing to pass comment on a matter, say in the pub with mates, but quite another to put a damaging comment in a book and shrug off the concerns of the other party’s lawyers by saying it’a just an ‘opinion’. What the actual flip? 

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Miller [62 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes

Gaimon must always have known that sentence was going to be controversial, being a slanderous claim against a major rider. It's a bit late to be retreating from the statement.

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fukawitribe [2036 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like
Miller wrote:

Gaimon must always have known that sentence was going to be controversial, being a slanderous claim against a major rider. It's a bit late to be retreating from the statement.

He's not.

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alansmurphy [1162 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes

And that continued to be the problem, he says he's standing by his opinion and would with a gun to his head but it's not an accusation.

What if someone's opinion of him equated to those about many in the US movie industry at the moment, would Fabio be able to state "he's probably a bit of a fucking sex offender"?

Strangely, I've been watching Gaimon's YouTube and enjoyed it, thought he was a bit of a laugh. May have to hit unsubscribe.

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atlaz [255 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes

He makes comments about other former pros too which are equally likely to get him into trouble. Not least because one of them shares a sponsor, Mavic, with him. 

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The_Vermonter [44 posts] 3 weeks ago
2 likes

It was a flippant comment about something that has long been discussed. Luigi, his lawyers, and everyone else need to chill. 

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Nuclear Dan [23 posts] 3 weeks ago
3 likes

Gaimon would easily win in court, the allegations first surfaced in 2010.

Cancellara has had seven years to sue anyone making them.

It would be difficult to demonstrate loss of earnings or reputation for a story that old or that well known.

Secondly he could claim "honest opinion" this is a UK specific defence with analogues in other domains. This provision is that an "honest person" could have held this opinion.

Thus the defence is, I looked at the videos, his attack is beyond what I think a person could have done unaided. This is my opinion.

The plaintiff would have to show that an honest person with the information available to the person making the statement could not come to that conclusion. Or that the statement had a reckless disregard for the truth.

I think there is enough "evidence" for someone to hold this opinion.

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Carton [393 posts] 3 weeks ago
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alansmurphy wrote:

would Fabio be able to state "he's probably a bit of a fucking sex offender"?

I think Fabio could probably get away with being a bit of a sex offender. 

As for Fabian, I still don't think that he did it, but the way he has dealt with the whole thing from the beginning (see the answer he gave Caley Fretz way back when), isn't exactly making me a fan.

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ColT [344 posts] 3 weeks ago
3 likes

Fair play to Gaimon. Needs more like him to cut through all the bullshit clouding the truth about pro cycling.

Probably

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Jimmy Ray Will [814 posts] 3 weeks ago
2 likes

Still on the side of Gaimon here, I also share theview that the wording used in the book is a lot cleverer 'legally' than it may initially look. 

I am sure things will carry on for a few more days before going quiet and get forgotten. 

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Anthony.C [240 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes

This is all just great publicity for his book at Cancellara's expense, it's shameful.

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philhubbard [68 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes
Anthony.C wrote:

This is all just great publicity for his book at Cancellara's expense, it's shameful.

 

Gaimon never asked for this comment to be picked up by the media and splashed around, I'm sure you can find several other comments similar to this in his books if you tried

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Bob F [42 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes

All I'm hearing is noizzzzz....

 

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Anthony.C [240 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes
philhubbard wrote:
Anthony.C wrote:

This is all just great publicity for his book at Cancellara's expense, it's shameful.

 

Gaimon never asked for this comment to be picked up by the media and splashed around, I'm sure you can find several other comments similar to this in his books if you tried

How do you think the media picked that line out of the book ? That's why he has a publicist.

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Nuclear Dan [23 posts] 3 weeks ago
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Carton wrote:
alansmurphy wrote:

would Fabio be able to state "he's probably a bit of a fucking sex offender"?

I think Fabio could probably get away with being a bit of a sex offender. 

As for Fabian, I still don't think that he did it, but the way he has dealt with the whole thing from the beginning (see the answer he gave Caley Fretz way back when), isn't exactly making me a fan.

In short, no Cancellara could not get away with making up a story about Phil Gaimon being a sex offender.

There is no Gaimon sex offender allegations in the public domain.

Thus stating an opinion on them would be to make a false allegation with zero evidence and given the current situation lots of evidence for malice. Hence pretty much a text book libel case.

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alansmurphy [1162 posts] 3 weeks ago
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So who puts the original story in the public domain without evidence? Is it there now because it's been said here, Fab could say he read it on road cc. .