McQuaid claims rival’s campaign is 'half baked, flawed and impractical’
UCI president goes on the attack after Cookson launches manifesto
British Cycling President Brian Cookson is challenging Irishman Pat McQuaid for the presidency of the International Cycling Union (UCI)
Just 24 hours after British Cycling president Brian Cookson launched his campaign for the leadership of the International Cycling Union (UCI), current president Pat McQuaid has questioned his rival’s manifesto.
Cookson is so far the only person to challenge McQuaid’s leadership as the Irishman, who has been UCI president since 2005, seeks to be elected for a third term in September.
Several pledges have been made by Cookson, including to tackle the perceived failings of the eras of McQuaid and his predecessor, Hein Verbruggen, with anti-doping at the top of the agenda.
McQuaid responded to the publication of Cookson’s manifesto in Paris in typically combative style.
“Brian Cookson’s election manifesto is half baked, fundamentally flawed and financially impractical,” the Irishman said in a statement.
“Just telling people what they want to hear is easy. He needs to explain how he is going to make it happen.
“He must also make a clear statement on whether he believes that cycling has changed, as many of today’s riders have said loudly and clearly.
“He must also clarify whether he believes cycling is leading the fight against doping, in order to reassure the cycling family that he is prepared to stand up for the sport against those who attack it.”
Both McQuaid and Verbruggen’s reigns have been tarnished by systematic doping in the sport, epitomised by drugs cheat Lance Armstrong’s domination of the Tour de France from 1999 to 2005.
Tackling the use of performance-enhancing drugs led the agenda in Cookson’s manifesto, revealed yesterday in Paris, just yards from where the UCI was founded in 1900.
Cookson declined to wade into a war of words with his presidential rival, but McQuaid opted to go on the offensive, questioning numerous aspects of his rival’s plans without stating his own position, including the choice of venue for yesterday’s announcement.
Anti-doping was the leading subject in McQuaid’s response.
“Brian Cookson’s manifesto is proposing nothing new on independent anti-doping,” added McQuaid, who has been steadfast in his position despite calls for his resignation in recent months.
“The Wada (World Anti-doping Agency) Code simply does not permit the UCI, or indeed any other international federation, to create an independent anti-doping body.
“Brian’s proposal that the ‘UCI must remove itself from the management of anti-doping’ is a nice soundbite, but it demonstrates how little he understands about the Wada Code and the UCI’s responsibility as a signatory to the Code.
“My own position, and that of the UCI, as we have said many times, is that we are in favour of independent anti-doping if Wada changes its Code to facilitate that for all international federations.”
Cookson insisted the location of the anti-doping office at the UCI headquarters in Switzerland, along the corridor from McQuaid’s office, was wrong.
In calling for a number of issues to be explained in Cookson’s anti-doping pledge, McQuaid added: “Brian must immediately explain... how far geographically must the UCI relocate the CADF away from its president’s office to guarantee its independence?”
McQuaid also questioned Cookson’s stance on a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the cost of the pledges contained in his manifesto.
“He has prepared his manifesto as if money were no object,” McQuaid said.
“This money has to be found and he has given no indication from where it will come or how he proposes to generate new revenue streams to finance the multi-million cost of his aspirations.”