Sponsor Sues Over Mismanagement of Armstrong Scandal
Swiss-based performance sportswear company, SKINS Compression, has sued the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) for $2 million, seeking damages related to alleged mismanagement and poor handling of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal. SKINS has pledged to re-invest any funds received from its action to support the future of clean cycling and restore credibility in the sport.
SKINS, which has been a commercial supporter of world cycling for the last five years, also cited UCI President Pat McQuaid and Honorary President for Life, Hein Verbruggen, for their handling of a crisis that SKINS alleges is the main cause for the significant loss of confidence in professional cycling. In the wake of the doping controversy, SKINS Chairman Jaimie Fuller last month penned an open letter calling for McQuaid's swift action or resignation.
"The Lance Armstrong affair has damaged world cycling to the point where its reputation is possibly irreparable," said Fuller. "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."
In its filing, SKINS expressed concerns that cycling's tarnished image has damaged the company, which has supported organizations at various levels of cycling including USA Cycling, Cycling Australia and Bike NZ, Rabobank Cycling, Team Europcar, Team Lotto Belisol and Team NetApp. SKINS was also the provider of high tech race suits to the USA Olympic Cycling team for the London Olympics.
"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," continued 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."
Skins has enlisted international law firm, Bonnard Lawson, from its offices in Lausanne, Switzerland to represent it the case.