Professional cyclist turned award winning author and journalist Paul Kimmage has been ordered by a Swiss court to pay former UCI president Hein Verbruggen libel damages of CHF12,000 (£8,230).
Verbruggen, together with his successor at the top of the governing body Pat McQuaid and the UCI itself initiated the action in January 2012, claiming that articles written by Kimmage and published in outlets including The Sunday Times – which had made the journalist redundant just a fortnight earlier – had seriously damaged their reputations.
The articles included claims that the UCI had helped cover up positive anti-doping controls by Lance Armstrong, who later in 2012 would be banned from sport for life and stripped of results including the seven consecutive Tour de France titles he won between 1999 and 2005.
The judgment, a copy of which Kimmage shared on Twitter, forbids him from
... stating that Henricus Verbruggen knowingly tolerated doping, concealed test results, is dishonest, does not behave responsibly, did not apply the same rules to everyone, did not pursue Lance Armstrong after he had been provided with a backdated certificate, nor to make any allegation of that nature ...
Breach of that condition would leave Kimmage open to further potential action and penalties and he must also publicise the court’s decision through notices in The Sunday Times, L’Equipe, the Geneva-based newspaper Le Temps and on NYVelocity.com.
When news broke that Verbruggen, McQuaid and the UCI planned to sue Kimmage there was anger among many cycling fans and bloggers on social media and many pledged to support him.
A defence fund was set up through the satirical website Cyclismas, raising almost $100,000 – although Aaron Brown, who had achieved minor notoriety on Twitter through his parody UCI Overlord account, absconded with the money.
With that money never recovered despite the efforts of donors and Cyclismas’s Leslie Cohen to pursue Brown through the courts, Jaimie Fuller, founder of compression clothing firm Skins and a campaigner against corruption in sporting governing bodies, stepped in to support Kimmage.
The UCI withdrew from the action in October 2013, shortly after Brian Cookson succeeded McQuaid as president, and the latter too would pull out of it, leaving Verbruggen on his own in the lawsuit.
On the day the case was heard in court last month, Kimmage tweeted: “A sincere thanks to all the cycling fans who supported me. A special thanks to Cedric Aguet [his lawyer], Jaimie Fuller and to my family and friends.
“Four years and three months is a long time to be locked in a taxi with the meter running. I would not have made it without you.”
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.