UCI vs Landis: the missing lawsuit

It’s been almost five months since the UCI issued a press release in which it stated that it would sue Floyd Landis. However, the former professional has not had any communication with either the governing body or its Swiss lawyers, suggesting that the case could fail to materialise.

In November of last year, Landis appeared on German television and claimed that “it is known in the peloton” that the UCI has “protected some people” over the years. He also accused the UCI of taking bribes, conducting cover-ups and manipulating test results.

Days later, UCI president Pat McQuaid accused Landis of being a ‘liar’ but it took until February of this year before the UCI backed up the claims and threatened to sue the former rider.

In a letter dated February 7, 2011, addressed to Landis, the UCI gave the American a 15-day window in which to retract his comments or face legal proceedings. Reymond & Associes acted for the UCI’s former and current presidents, Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid.

Landis’ reaction was one of bluff and mocking contempt. He set up a fake legal firm and began to email the UCI’s legal team. He even set up a website for his fictitious legal firm, Greymanrod.com (the website has since been removed), creating a lawyer to represent him. One of the legal team’s areas of expertise was in Vegetable Rights Abuse Advocacy.

It wasn’t until May that the UCI, after Landis refused to back down, announced that they would take him to court to ‘defend their honour’. In a public statement they said: “The International Cycling Union (UCI), its current President, Mr Pat McQuaid, and one of its former Presidents, Mr Hein Verbruggen, have lodged a case in the Swiss courts against Mr Floyd Landis regarding repeated, serious attacks against their characters.”

“By this step, made necessary by numerous unacceptable public statements by Mr Landis, the UCI is seeking to defend the integrity of the cycling movement as a whole against the accusations of a rider who, by breaching the Anti-doping Rules, caused cycling serious harm.”

However, since then the case appears to have gone cold. McQuaid told Cyclingnews at the recent World Championships in Copenhagen that the wheels were still in motion but that he didn’t know exactly where the lawyers were with the proceedings.

“It’s ongoing but the legal team are dealing with it,” McQuaid said.

“I will not accept anyone saying that I or the UCI is corrupt. If you say that about the UCI, that’s 90 people affected. I will not accept that the UCI is corrupt or has ever been corrupt. I just will not accept that. If someone wants to say that, they need to stand up and show the proof.

“It’s definitely going ahead but I don’t know when. I haven’t spoken to legal but they’re looking after it. You can’t dictate resolutions on legal cases. They go at their own speed and you have to let the lawyers take care of it.”

Cyclingnews contacted Landis and asked if he had received any notification or communication from the UCI since they announced the start of legal proceedings. Like McQuaid, he had no idea where the case was heading but he did disclose that he had received no communication.

More importantly, he told Cyclingnews that he had hired his own US lawyers – real ones this time – to trawl the Swiss courts to find a case that matched his name. According to Landis, nothing was found.

“They put out a press release on their website saying they had filed a law suit. That was months ago and they can’t pretend that didn’t happen. I had lawyers search the courts of Switzerland for something with my name on it and there is nothing,” Landis said. “So McQuaid is full of it.”

Landis can’t prove why the UCI would go so far without actually taking the necessary steps to sue him but he did throw out a potential theory:

“I expect the reason he doesn’t want to sue me and I’m sure Lance Armstrong’s lawyers think the same thing, is because they don’t want to give me an opportunity to start exposing things. Then I get to subpoena people and depose them. There’s also the fact that I’m telling the truth, which is another problem for him.

“The fact that they said they sued me and they didn’t - you can’t have them do that. How can we trust them if they’re going to go around making things up?”

While McQuaid was fuzzy on the details, he did have one last warning aimed in the direction of Landis. Cyclingnews informed the UCI president that Landis didn’t believe a case existed.

“Let him wait and see,” McQuaid said. “He’s already had communication from our lawyers so he should treat it seriously.”

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Daniel Benson

Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.