/ Cycling

Brian Cookson unruffled by Pat McQuaid criticism as battle for UCI presidency hots up

Updated: Wednesday, 26 Jun 2013 21:12 | Comments

Brian Cookson has headed British Cycling in an unpaid capacity since 1997
Brian Cookson has headed British Cycling in an unpaid capacity since 1997

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Brian Cookson has responded to Pat McQuaid's attack on his bid for the presidency of the International Cycling Union as the leadership battle intensifies.

McQuaid tore into Cookson's manifesto 24 hours after it was unveiled in Paris on Monday, describing it as "half baked, fundamentally flawed and financially impractical".

Cookson, the British Cycling president since 1996, today in a statement said: "The response from Pat McQuaid to my manifesto has once again demonstrated exactly why restoring credibility to the UCI and cycling in general was the number one recommendation of the recent Deloitte consultation with the sport's stakeholders.

"His bullying and haranguing style seems designed to antagonise everyone who does not share his approach to the governance of world cycling.

"Yesterday's release was a reminder of the sometimes absurd and entirely counter-productive feuds in which he has engaged."

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.

Cookson insisted he would not counter McQuaid's attack, but stressed his belief that the situation is clear ahead of September's elections.

"As we enter the next stage of the presidential election, it is clear that the choice that has to be made is between two different approaches to the work of the UCI and two different visions for our sport," Cookson added.

"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.

"I continue to hope the presidential contest can be one in which cycling can take pride."

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.

Cookson has pledged to investigate claims of complicity between the UCI leadership and drugs cheats, allegations which McQuaid and Verbruggen strenuously deny.

Cookson believes change is imperative and that he has strong support since his manifesto was launched.

"Members of the cycling family and other interested observers 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 added.

"His bullying and haranguing style seems designed to antagonise everyone who does not share his approach to the governance of world cycling" - Brian Cookson on Pat McQuaid

"I will not respond in kind but I will say that the UCI desperately needs transparency and that includes the costs of the president's office and the damaging litigation that has become commonplace during Mr McQuaid's Presidency.

"On Monday I set out a new agenda for the UCI and cycling which has already received very strong support from around the world.

"I have been truly encouraged by the messages I have received following the launch and the serious and considered way which members of the cycling family and the media have responded to the direction I want to set."

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