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Journalist files criminal complaint against UCI leaders

ZURICH (AP) -- An Irish journalist filed a criminal complaint against International Cycling Union leaders Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen, accusing them of protecting Lance Armstrong while he won seven Tour de France titles.

Paul Kimmage, a former Tour rider and vocal anti-doping campaigner, alleges defamation and fraud in the case filed in Switzerland.

Kimmage's lawyer, Cedric Aguet, told The Associated Press on Friday that a 28-page file was submitted to the local prosecutor's office in Vevey, near UCI headquarters. The lawyer said prosecutors could decide "within two weeks" to open criminal proceedings.

"We are talking here about a possible massive fraud," Aguet said by phone. "If one or both are considered as responsible for assisting Mr. Lance Armstrong it would be several years in prison. The maximum penalty is five years."

The UCI recently agreed to strip Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and ban him for life, following a report from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that accused him of leading a massive doping program on his teams.

The USADA report included sworn witness testimony that Armstrong said the governing body helped cover up his positive or suspicious doping tests at the 1999 Tour de France and 2001 Tour of Switzerland.

McQuaid, the UCI president, and Verbruggen, his predecessor, deny the allegations. Last week, the UCI ordered an independent commission to examine its conduct in the Armstrong case. The panel's report is due by June.

Kimmage's complaint says there are "strong suspicions" the UCI and its leaders, either directly or indirectly, helped Armstrong earn "significant sums of money in and out of competition while he was doped." Armstrong faces demands to repay almost $4 million in Tour prize money alone from his 1999-2005 victory run.

"All that took place in Switzerland, within the premises of the UCI in Aigle. This is why we consider the criminal authorities in Vevey" have jurisdiction, Aguet said.

Kimmage's complaint was filed six days after McQuaid and Verbruggen suspended their defamation suit against him, stemming from an interview he conducted with Floyd Landis, a former Armstrong teammate and key USADA witness. Landis said UCI leaders acted corruptly and protected star riders from scrutiny.

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