French awarded $162,000 in damages

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Former world junior cycling champion Mark French has been awarded $162,000 in damages after suing an Australian newspaper for describing him as a disgraced drug cheat.

The 25-year-old was banned for two years in 2004 for doping offenses, but was cleared on appeal the following year.

French took legal action against the Herald and Weekly Times in the Victorian state Supreme Court over articles published in August 2004 which he said damaged his reputation.

On Tuesday, the court awarded French the damages plus costs.

His lawyer, Michael Main, said French was happy with the outcome.

"He was very relieved that the case was over and that he had been vindicated," Main was quoted as saying.

French successfully sued a radio station in 2008 for defamation.