By Duncan Mackay

Pat McQuaid_looking_fed_upNovember 1 - Pat McQuaid (pictured), President of the International Cycling Union (UCI), faces a serious legal challenge following an action launched by Paul Kimmage, the Irish journalist who until last week he was taking to court himself and seeking damages from.

It is the latest sensational twist in the saga surrounding Lance Armstrong, who the UCI last week officially confirmed would be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after being found guilty of taking drugs by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

Kimmage tonight lodged a criminal complaint against countryman McQuaid and the UCI's Honorary President Hein Verbruggen.

The UCI, McQuaid and Verbruggen had originally launched a lawsuit against Kimmage but last week suspended defamation proceedings pending the results of an independent report following the Armstrong revelations. 

Now former rider Kimmage, who has been hugely critical of the UCI leadership's response to doping in cycling in a series of articles in The Sunday Times and L'Equipe, has launched legal proceedings of his own in Swiss town of Vevey, close to the UCI's headquarters and where McQuaid lives.

Kimmage wrote on Twitter: "I have lodged a criminal complaint against Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid.

"I have initiated these proceedings not for myself - this is not about Paul Kimmage, but on behalf of the whistle blowers - Stephen Swart, Frankie Andreu, Floyd Landis, Christophe Bassons, Nicolas Aubier, Gilles Delion, Graeme Obree and every other cyclist who stood up for truth and the sport they loved and were dismissed as 'cowards' and 'scumbags' by Verbruggen and McQuaid."

A statement released by Kimmage's lawyers, international firm Bonnard Lawson, confirmed the complaint had been lodged with the public prosecutor in Vevey.

The statement added: "Paul Kimmage complains, among other things, that he was dragged through the mud, that he was called a liar in public and accused in public of committing offences against the honour after he had obtained the publication of an interview by Floyd Landis in which the latter denounced the conduct of the highest officials of the International Cycling Union (UCI)." 

Kimmage, a former professional cyclist who first exposed how widespread doping was in the sport when in 1990 he wrote the critically-acclaimed book Rough Ride, had received a subpoena in September from the Tribunal D'Arrondissement de L'Est Vaudois in Vevey.

McQuaid and Verbruggen initiated the the action in January and each were 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 L'Équipe.

Paul Kimmage_press_release_November_1_2012_cropped

Paul Kimmage claims he has not launched the legal action against Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen for himself but on behalf of the "whistle blowers", like Floyd Landis

After McQuaid and Verbruggen launched their legal action, a legal fund had been set up by his supporters on the American website, which has so received made more than $86,000 (£53,000/€66,000) in donations and ontinues to raise.

The fund is now set to be used to bankroll Kimmage's counter action against McQuaid and Verbruggen.

McQuaid, a member of the International Olympic Committee, meanwhile, now faces a massive task to hold onto his role as head of international cycling.

But denies his action against Kimmage was motivated by personal malice but by the desire to clear up claims he had covered up a positive drugs test in 2001 involving Armstrong.

"This is nothing to do with Paul Kimmage writer of 'Rough Ride'," he told Irish radio last week.

"This is nothing to do with Paul Kimmage anti-doping advocate.

"This is nothing to do with the Paul Kimmage that I knew very well as a cyclist.

"This is to do with a journalist who went over the line and who called me corrupt.

"And I will not accept that on my behalf nor on my family's behalf, who are living in Ireland."

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
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January 2012: UCI's McQuaid and Verbruggen seek damages from journalist Kimmage