“Our freedom of speech is freedom or death
We got to fight the powers that be” – Chuck D
Paul Kimmage is an exemplary journalist. A cantankerous goat he may be at times, but he is an incredible journalist with an ability to get inside an athlete’s head that makes me weep with envy.
I’ve written before about how Kimmage changed the game in cycling journalism, not once but twice. That second game changer – releasing a verbatim transcript of his Floyd Landis interview after it was hacked to pieces by lawyers – may even have contributed to his parting with The Sunday Times.
Great journalists are consistent in their position and honest about their views. Kimmage has always been consistent in seeking out the source of an athlete’s drive, fighting artifice and deception as it is presented to him, and determined to shout for the athlete who engages in an interview or feature with honesty, regardless of what that truth may be.
Those qualities are almost certainly why Bradley Wiggins wanted him off the Team Sky bus in 2010, when by his own admission wasn’t delivering on what his role demanded. I’d hazard that Kimmage saw through the front and bluster of ‘Brad/Wiggo’ and he didn’t like it.
Those qualities are what gained the confidence of Floyd Landis, a man he had mercilessly pushed to tell the truth. They are what made him one of the few journalists to continue to stand up and ask the hard questions in press conferences. They are what made Lance Armstrong so determined to publicly defame him at the Tour of California.
It’s why, when faced by an unprecedented series of allegations against the most senior figures in the UCI, past and present – Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid – they are chasing him in the Swiss courts for defamation.
Let’s be clear, the basis for this case includes articles and statements made in the British press, which falls within the jurisdiction of English libel law, almost universally acknowledged to be one of the most favourable to the complainant in any legal system. They have chose to make their case against Kimmage as an individual, and not against the publications (L’Equipe and The Sunday Times in particular) in a Swiss court.
This is unheard of in my experience of journalism and to my mind speaks of a suit aimed at silencing a critic whose opinion looks increasingly to be that made in good faith and supported by evidence.
If you are a Swiss lawyer with expertise in defamation law and the defence thereof and would be willing to work pro bono on Paul Kimmage’s behalf on this case, feel free to make yourself known to those mentioned above.