UCI wins court case against Landis following Armstrong allegations
Thursday, 04 October 2012
October 4 - Retired American cyclist Floyd Landis has been found guilty in a Swiss court of defaming the International Cycling Union (UCI) and has been prohibited from repeating his claims that the leaders of the organisation corruptly protected Lance Armstrong from a doping case.
Landis (pictured top), who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France victory for doping, has become an outspoken critic of the UCI, claiming that its President Pat McQuaid and his predecessor, Hein Verbruggen, helped cover the fact that Armstrong was taking illegal performance enhancing drugs.
Landis claimed in an interview with a German television station in November 2010 that Verbruggen and McQuaid had accepted a donation from his former US Postal Service teammate Armstrong to conceal a positive test in the 2001 Tour de Suisse.
The UCI admitted receiving £62,200 ($100,000/€77,315) from Armstrong to help finance anti-doping measures, but denied the payment was part of a cover-up.
As a result, the UCI took legal action against Landis, who following the court ruling must pay McQuaid and Verbruggen £6,600 ($10,680/€8,200) each in compensation, plus their legal costs.
In addition, he must publish the verdict in several media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal and L'Équipe, at his own expense.
"The judgment upholds and protects the integrity of the UCI and its Presidents," said the UCI in a statement released with copies of the court document.
The ruling also forbids Landis to "state that the UCI, Pat McQuaid or Hein Verbruggen have concealed cases of doping, received money for doing so or have accepted money from Lance Armstrong to conceal a doping case."
He is also not allowed to say that the UCI "are clowns, are no different to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, or to make any similar allegations."
But despite the court ruling, Landis' lawyer, Leo Cunningham, said the 36-year-old former cyclist was never formally contacted or informed he was a defendant, claiming that the ruling was "unenforceable".
"Floyd was never served with the UCI's Swiss lawsuit, never appeared in Switzerland on the case, and therefore the Swiss Court had no opportunity to hear Floyd on the issues," said Cunningham in a statement.
"The order is un-American in every sense of that word.
"It is inconsistent with American law, it flies in the face of our First Amendment and it would be unenforceable in American courts.
"It does not affect Floyd's status under American law in any way."
Landis has been given 10 days from receiving the court ruling to appeal, after which "the judgment shall become final and binding."
The document, headlined as a "Judgment by Default," stated that he could face fines for failing to comply.
But given that Landis was not an active party in the civil court proceedings, it remains unclear how the orders would be enforced.
The same court is scheduled to hear another defamation case brought by the UCI against Irish journalist Paul Kimmage in December.
Kimmage, a former Tour de France rider, has also claimed the UCI and its leaders protected Armstrong from an alleged positive test for the blood-boosting hormone EPO at the 2001 Tour of Switzerland.
The UCI sued Kimmage last month after he made comments to L'Équipe and published an interview with Landis in British newspaper The Sunday Times.
However, Kimmage appears unconcerned.
"Given the tidal wave of evidence out there about Armstrong and the degree to which the governing body were complicit in that, I'm absolutely astonished that they are pursuing this," he told Press Gazette in the United Kingdom.
In another interview with Cycling Weekly in Britain, Kimmage claimed that the action was aimed at silencing him.
"The fact that they targeted me was quite vindictive, and it was all about keeping me quiet, getting a gagging order on me," Kimmage told Cycling Weekly.
"They just want to shut me up and give me a public slap."
American website NY Velocity has launched a fund to help Kimmage and it has so far raised over $50,000 (£31,000/€38,500).