Photo by whileseated on Flickr
The International Cycling Union (UCI) filed a defamation suit yesterday against cyclist and deposed 2006 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis, VeloNews reports. The organization is seeking damages for allegations leveled by Landis that the UCI has covered up positive doping results amoung select riders.
Specifically, Landis has pointed to seven-time Tour De France winner Lance Armstrong and a $100,000 donation Armstrong made to the UCI in 2005. UCI President Pat McQuaid says the donation, which was used to purchase blood analysis equipment, did not present a conflict of interest. Landis claims the donation was a quid-pro-quo arrangement between Armstrong and cycling's governing body.
The UCI reportedly sent several letters to Landis asking him to retract his statements, which Landis refused to do. Landis' continued allegations also drew the attention of federal prosecutors in the U.S., who expanded an ongoing investigation into doping in cycling to focus more on Lance Armstrong (a story Outside covered in October).
Landis said he will fight the UCI to try to expose "the corruption within cycling." In an e-mail to VeloNews yesterday, Landis wrote that the suit was "nothing short of witness intimidation and a terrorist tactic designed to take away from me one of Americans’ most highly valued rights. So while the clouded version of freedom of speech offered to Europeans has allowed them to bully others into subservience in the past, it will only serve to strengthen my resolve to expose them as the criminals that they are."
Coincidentally, a French judge this morning cleared three cyclists charged with doping in the 2007 Tour De France, citing a lack of evidence, including the UCI's refusal to hand over blood and urine samples that would prove the riders had broken French law.
For more about Landis' rise to cycling stardom, see our July 2006 issue.