By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
The other defendant in the lawsuit brought by Rock Racing's Kayle Leogrande for slander, Matt Decanio, has responded to the lawsuit with answers to the complaint as well as his own motion to strike. This follows the other defendant's, Suzanne Sonye, motion to strike.
Leogrande's lawsuit seeks damages from Sonye and Decanio for a phone conversation posted on the internet by Decanio in which Sonye alleges Leogrande admitted to doping practices while racing. Sonye's statements are also central to an open investigation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
Decanio responded to Cyclingnews' request for comment with the two legal motions as well as a written statement under his organisation's name and well-known abrasive style. "First and foremost, Stolen Underground would like to commend Suzanne Sonye. Her efforts and bravery in the war against doping in cycling has caused us some conflict. We are both on the same side, but Stolen Underground's efforts to Shut'em Down by all means necessary have caused problems with Sonye.
"Nevertheless, truth is never out of style. Regarding the topic of wiretapping crimes, my lawyer tells me that Sonye was present in Colorado – a one party consent state – and that this complex legal issue has not been conclusively determined and involves judicial determination of conflicts of different states' law.
"Fortunately, Leogrande's attorney filed in California, which has some really great law regarding free speech and against lawsuits which seek to chill free speech. I cited the anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) law and Barrett v. Rosenthal in my motion to strike, which states that websites are absolutely immune from liability in defamation suits. Leogrande's lawsuit is frivolous and I expect the court to dismiss Leogrande's complaint in total against me."
The Barree v. Rosenthal precedent is essentially a freedom of speech argument specific to online rhetoric and is combined with general free speech claims riding the anti-SLAPP argument. Decanio as his own counsel appears to have drafted both montions.
Decanio continued his anti-doping stance through his writing. "The only damages that Leogrande has suffered results from his bad tattoos and the fallout from the USADA investigation, as well as the larger media coverage. The lawsuit against Stolen Underground and the Jane Doe [sic] lawsuit against USADA begs the question 'What is he trying to hide?' Maybe Leogrande's diminished performance since the investigation began tells the real story?"