SKINS sues UCI in wake of Armstrong scandal

Last updated 12:55 05/11/2012

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Australian firm SKINS is suing world cycling governing body UCI for $A2 million, alleging the organisation harmed the company's image by failing to crack down sufficiently on doping and run a clean sport.

The sports compression wear maker says it has also cited UCI president Pat McQuaid and former president Hein Verbruggen for their handling of the doping crisis in the sport which it claims has harmed the company's international reputation.

SKINS has been involved in professional cycling since 2008 and sponsors Cycling Australia, USA Cycling, the Rabobank, Europcar and Telekom teams and BikeNZ in New Zealand, among others.

But, in the wake of the Lance Armstrong scandal, which saw the Texan stripped of his seven Tour de France titles (1999-2005) after a US investigation into alleged systematic doping, SKINS said it had to act and had served the UCI with a demand for $A2 million.

"The Lance Armstrong affair has damaged world cycling to the point where its reputation is possibly irreparable," said SKINS chairman Jamie Fuller in a statement on Monday.

"As a commercial partner, there are clearly implications to our brand image and as a company that has built an association with cycling to support its belief in 'The True Spirit Of Competition', our reputation and credibility has potentially been significantly damaged."

Skins has instructed international law firm, Bonnard Lawson, from its offices in Lausanne, Switzerland, to assist it in the action against the UCI, McQuaid and Verbruggen.

The lawyers wrote to UCI on Friday saying SKINS had been involved in professional cycling from 2008 in the belief that the sport had cleaned up its act after the scandal-tainted 1998 Tour de France.

Last month the UCI said it would accept the findings of a US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) dossier that placed Armstrong at the heart of the US agency dubbed the biggest doping program ever in sport.

"When we decided to invest in cycling by becoming a sponsor, we also made a significant financial commitment into a research and development program which runs in partnership with professional cycling and cyclists," said Fuller.

"We have been proud of our associations with professional cycling but we are now associated with a sport that commands little or no trust or respect from the general public.

"We believe that until it was forced into action by USADA's comprehensive report, the UCI fundamentally failed to acknowledge the issues or act to save the credibility of cycling or its commercial partners."

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