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Cookson hits back at McQuaid in UCI leadership row

June 26, 2013

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — The contest for the presidency of world cycling’s governing body became even more tetchy on Wednesday when current leader Pat McQuaid was accused by his challenger of “bullying” his opponents and engaging in “absurd and entirely counter-productive feuds.”

Seeking a third term as UCI president, McQuaid went on the offensive Tuesday and said pledges in the election manifesto of rival Brian Cookson were “half baked, fundamentally flawed and financially impractical.”

Cookson, who is promising to clean up cycling after numerous doping scandals in McQuaid’s eight-year reign, hit back a day later to continue an increasingly bitter feud.

“His bullying and haranguing style seems designed to antagonize everyone who does not share his approach to the governance of world cycling,” Cookson, president of British Cycling, said in a statement. “Yesterday’s release was a reminder of the sometimes absurd and entirely counter-productive feuds in which he has engaged.”

The pressure has been on McQuaid ever since the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report last year that led to Lance Armstrong being banned for life from cycling and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. McQuaid was accused by critics of closing his eyes to the endemic doping culture in the sport.

“I believe in a path based on credibility, trust and change and not one littered with a seemingly endless round of doubts and discrepancies where relations with important stakeholders are conducted by press release and punctuated by legal letters,” Cookson said.

“Members of the cycling family and other interested observers,” Cookson added, “can read my manifesto, compare it with the current state and image of the UCI, and make their own minds up as to who they believe best represents the future of the UCI and cycling.”

Cookson launched his campaign for the UCI presidency in Paris on Monday. Among the pledges in his manifesto were establishing an independent anti-doping unit as well as a policy of transparency regarding any allegations that implicate the UCI over historic doping cases.

McQuaid called on Cookson to provide more thorough explanations on his pledges for independent testing and establishing a Truth and Reconciliation commission, and questioned how Cookson would fund his proposals.

The election will take place in September.

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