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acting on behalf of Cancellara, currently on his way to Las Vegas for a corporate event, have insisted that the book be withdrawn from distribution.
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.
True story: my PR guy is on vacation this week.
Here's my statement on the motor doping controversy https://t.co/yNExQl4rsB
— Phil Gaimon (@philgaimon) November 14, 2017
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.
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.