Paolo Bettini has won a lawsuit against German television broadcaster ZDF, which had claimed the former Italian pro had supplied doping products to his then-teammate Patrik Sinkewitz. The broadcast company must now pay him damages, the Italian court ruled last week.
Before the World Championships in Stuttgart in 2007, which Bettini won, the ZDF reported that when officially questioned, Sinkewitz said, "I had Italian riders, who took care ... of this testosterone gel. I could name names, too, Bramati and Bettini." The three riders had been teammates at Mapei and Quick Step.
Sinkewitz immediately denied having made that statement, and later told Spiegel magazine, “Maybe the name of Bettini was said in the course of a meeting with the BDR [German cycling federation - ed.] anti-doping commission, but I never said that I received the [doping] products from him. These things were constructed by others. Bettini warned me, 'If it was you that said it then you will be crying.'”
The ZDF's statements were false and defamatory, the court in Bolzano ruled, and ordered the ZDF to pay damages and court costs.
“I am satisfied with the judgment,” Bettini said, according to lanazione.it. “For me it was a matter of principle. The sentence repaid at least part of the smear campaign I've had to endure in spite of myself. The judgment shows that perseverance in defending your positions and rights can lead to these results.”
Bettini, 37, retired from bike racing in 2008. He is currently Italian national coach.
Sinkewitz, 31, served a one-year suspension for testosterone doping from from 2007 to 2008. He is currently provisionally suspended for a positive doping control for human growth hormone from last year.