Former UCI president Pat McQuaid has defended his time in charge of world cycling’s governing body ahead of the publication tomorrow morning of a report by the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) that is expected to be highly critical of the Irishman and his predecessor, Hein Verbruggen.
(Update - Those expectations turned out to be correct, with the former UCI presidents accused among other things of poor governance, undermining the fight against doping and credibility in the governing body, and protecting Lance Armstrong. Read our report here.)
Speaking to Cycling News, McQuaid also confirmed that while still in office he entered into a contract with Igor Makarov, owner of the Katusha team and president of the Russian cycling federation, something he admits he realised in hindsight was a conflict of interest.
The agreement would have seen McQuaid help develop cycling in Makarov’s home country, Turkmenistan, including putting together a bid to host the 2017 UCI Road World Championships.
He said that when he signed the contract in 2012, he did not plan to stand for re-election the following year and that when he decided to do so, he told Makarov he did not want to go ahead with it
He denied that his decision not to proceed was motivated by a cooling of the relationship between him and Makarov after Katusha was refused a WorldTour licence for that season. It received one following a successful appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
McQuaid said: "That is the one sincere regret I have of my eight years as UCI President. Indeed, I am proud of my achievements, in particular in relation to anti-doping and the globalisation of my sport during my presidency."
The CIRC was set up last year by Brian Cookson, who beat McQuaid to the UCI following an acrimonious campaign, and it has now transpired that a copy of the contract was contained in a dossier that UCI management board member Makarov sent to the heads of national federations ahead of the election.
The former UCI chief confirmed that he has testified to the three-member commission, part of whose remit was to examine allegations of the governing body colluding in covering up doping by the disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong.0
The latter was banned from sport for life in October 2012 and stripped of results including the seven Tour de France victories he achieved from 1999 to 2005.
At the time, ratifying the sanctions, McQuaid said that Armstrong "has no place in cycling," but more recently he has claimed that the American was a "scapegoat" and the victim of a "witch hunt" by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
Cookson has said that the report will make for “uncomfortable reading” and that "when you open a can of worms, you find a lot of worms."
But McQuaid, who took over from Verbruggen in 2005, insisted he was "totally confident" the commission would "not report any wrongdoings, or complicity in covering up any positive doping cases" while he was in charge.
He also maintained he had been "completely open and transparent" on the three occasions on which he appeared before the CIRC.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.