By Duncan Mackay

Paul Kimmage_in_cycle_gearSeptember 29 - Paul Kimmage, the journalist being sued by Interntional Cycling Union (UCI) President Pat McQuaid and his predecessor, Hein Verbruggen, has cliaimed he is "astonished" that they are continuing to take legal action against him after seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong was banned for life. 

The former professional cyclist (pictured) claimed that McQuaid and Verbruggen were being "vindictive".

The two officials are each seeking damages of €6,600 (£5,532/$8,668) claiming to the Swiss District Court that they feel "their reputation has been seriously damaged" by Kimmage, mainly in articles published in The Sunday Times and French newspaper L'Équipe

The legal action was launched in January but the writ was not served on the Irishman until earlier this month - after the United States Anti-Doping Agency had announced that they had banned Armstrong for life after he chose not to defend himself against charges that he had used performance enhancing drugs. 

If Kimmages loses the case, which is due to be heard in Vevey, Switzerland, on December 12, as part of the settlement he will be forced to take out full-page advertisements in L'Equipe, The Sunday Times and the Swiss paper Le Matin to apologise to McQuaid and Verbruggen. 

"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 UK.  

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." 

Pat McQuaid_with_head_on_handUCI President Pat McQuaid has decided to continue with legal action against fellow Irishman Paul Kimmage despite the lifetime ban given to Lance Armstrong

Part of Kimmage's defence seems set to be that as the leaders of the sport McQuaid and Verbruggen must have been aware of the problem of doping within the sport. 

"Their reputation has been damaged by the fact they've been at the helm at the professional cycling, between the two of them, for more than 20 years," he said.

"If it was any other profession, if you were to apply their incompetence, they would've been sacked years ago." 

American website NY Velocity has launched a fund to help Kimmage and it has so far raised nearly $44,000 (£27,000/€34,000)

Kimmage believes that people are donating to the site because they want to send a message to McQuaid and Verbruggen at their unhappiness at how the sport has been administered.

"I understand, they are supporting me, but essentially it's not about me," he told Cycling Weekly.

"Outside of my immediate circle of friends, I believe [that for] everybody else it's about [the UCI's] incompetence.

"That's what it's about."  

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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September 2012: Kimmage supporters pledge more than $20,000 to help fight McQuaid and Verbruggen legal case
September 2012: UCI's McQuaid and Verbruggen push ahead with legal action against journalist despite Armstrong life ban
January 2012: UCI's McQuaid and Verbruggen seek damages from journalist Kimmage