UCI presidential candidate Brian Cookson has hit back at what he describes as a “bullying and haranguing” statement issued in response to his manifesto yesterday by the governing body’s current president, Pat McQuaid, who described the document as "half-baked." Cookson says McQuaid's response is typical of his "sometimes absurd and entirely counter-productive feuds."
McQuaid, seeking re-election for a third term but yet to outline his own manifesto, had attacked perceived inconsistencies in British Cycling president Cookson’s manifesto, in which he had outlined six key areas that he would focus on if elected in Florence in September.
It’s not the first time McQuaid has gone on the offensive against Cookson since the latter declared his intention to stand last month – previously, he has accused him of effectively being a puppet of Russian billionaire and fellow UCI management committee member, Igor Makarov.
Yesterday’s missive from McQuaid, who must overcome a legal challenge to his nomination by Swiss Cycling if he is to be able to run for a third term, focused principally on issues such as Cookson’s proposed reform of the UCI’s role in anti-doping and how he planned to finance that and other planned initiatives contained in his manifesto, launched in Paris on Monday.
While declining to engage in a point by point rebuttal of the questions raised by the UCI president, Cookson 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.
"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.
“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.
"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. 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,” he added.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.