Australian clothing firm Skins has threatened to sue cycling's world governing body for US$2 million, alleging it harmed the company's image by failing to crack down on doping and run a clean sport.
The firm's Swiss lawyers wrote to UCI saying Skins had been involved in professional cycling since 2008 in the belief that the sport had cleaned up its act after the scandal-tainted 1998 Tour de France, but had concluded that it must revise that view.
Skins said it had invested in the sport "under the illusion that professional cycling had been fundamentally reformed to contain doping and to minimise the risks of scandals with which the brand of any sponsor could be associated". But in the wake of the Lance Armstrong scandal, which saw the American stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after a US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) investigation into alleged systematic doping, Skins said it had to act accordingly.
Skins chairman Jaimie Fuller said: "As a commercial partner, there are clearly implications to our brand image. Our reputation and credibility has potentially been significantly damaged."
Fuller laid the blame squarely at UCI's door. "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."