The protracted case between former UCI president Hein Verbruggen and former rider and journalist Paul Kimmage has finally come to a close with a court ruling that Kimmage must pay Verbruggen 12,000 Swiss Francs, including legal fees. Following a six-hour session in the Swiss courts, Kimmage posted a picture of the ruling on Twitter.
As well as the hefty payout to Verbruggen, Kimmage must also pay legal fees and is forbidden from saying that Verbruggen knew about and tolerated ‘masked doping controls’ and that he failed to apply the rules in the case of Lance Armstrong’s backdated TUE. Kimmage could face a further penalty if he goes against this ruling. He has already been forced to pay the legal fees of the UCI and Pat McQuaid, who were initially part of the case.
Kimmage thanked the people that had supported him during the case but also lamented the lack of press outside the courtroom. “Spent almost 6 hours today in a courtroom - public hearing - with one of the most powerful administrators in sport,” he wrote on Twitter. “Not one camera present. Not one journalist present. Not even a chamois-sniffer! And people wonder how cycling got fucked.”
The case has been a longwinded one and has seen its fair share ups and downs in and out of the court.
Verbruggen filed his initial application in October 2011, seeking damages from Kimmage for comments made in articles he wrote for the Sunday Times and interviews he gave to L’Équipe and satirical website NYVelocity.com. The court has also ordered Kimmage to inform the three publications of the ruling.
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Proceedings were then launched the following January and Kimmage was later issued a subpoena in September of that year. The UCI president at the time, McQuaid, and the UCI its self, were also part of the case as he and Verbruggen looked for 8,000 CHF in damages each.
In response to the news of the case, a defence fund was launched by NYVelocity’s Andy Shen and the people behind the website Cyclismas.com, Lesli Cohen and Aaron Brown. Many people paid into the PayPal account that was set up for the fund, which looked to help Kimmage with the legal costs. Almost $100,000 had been raised, and 21,000 CHF had been used by Kimmage, when some money when money went missing from it in 2013. This led to a separate court case between Cohen and Brown, in which Brown was found liable for the funds.
While this was going on, the case was temporarily postponed when an Independent Commission investigation was launched in the wake of USADA’s banning of Lance Armstrong. "UCI President Pat McQuaid and Honorary President Hein Verbruggen, who are individual parties to the case, will similarly seek to put their cases on hold," a UCI statement read. Soon after, the UCI, under Brian Cookson would pull out of the case.
"One of the earliest decisions I made after my election as president was that the pursuit of Paul Kimmage in the courts was in no way something the UCI should be involved in," Cookson said.
In 2013, Kimmage launched his own case against Verbruggen and McQuaid, accusing the pair of slander and defamation. “This is for everyone who stands up for the truth and anyone who exposed the doping problem in the sport and were treated appallingly by McQuaid and Verbruggen over the last 20 years,” Kimmage told Cyclingnews at the time. The Irishman tried in both the criminal and civil courts but both cases were thrown out.
After a long hiatus, Verbruggen picked up the case again in late 2014. In an open letter last year, Verbruggen claimed that the Cycling Independent Reform Commission was set up as a result of pressure from predominantly British journalists to try and validate their ‘fabricated’ stories. He declared himself proud of the legal cases he had brought against journalists and whistleblowers.