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Cookson accuses McQuaid of "destructive feuding" as UCI battle heats up


UCI president Pat McQuaid

UCI president Pat McQuaid

UCI president Pat McQuaid

Pat McQuaid, the head of cycling's world governing body, was accused of neglecting the fight against doping in favour of "destructive feuding and conflict" by his rival for the role after launching his manifesto for re-election today.

The Irishman was elected as president of the UCI in 2005, since when the sport has continued to be dogged by doping accusations and revelations, culminating in the exposure of seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong as a drug cheat last year.

McQuaid's manifesto, titled 'A Bright Future for a Changed Sport', emphasised his commitment to making cycling as clean as possible.

But his opponent Brian Cookson, the president of British Cycling, claimed McQuaid's record on doping told its own story and said "a complete change of leadership" was needed.

Cookson said: "Pat has been president of the UCI for two terms. While his manifesto outlines what he believes still needs to be done for the UCI, I think that many people will judge him on his record, and ask why those things haven't been done in the last eight years.

"Unfortunately under his presidency far too much energy and resource have been devoted to destructive feuding and conflict rather than grabbing hold of the issues, listening to the right people and delivering solutions.

"In his manifesto he talks about the UCI stakeholders' consultation, but I think he fails to address the number one critical recommendation - that the UCI 'must take the steps necessary to restore cycling's and its own credibility, in particular in relation to the public perception of cycling's anti-doping measures and current UCI leadership'."

McQuaid is a controversial figure, who has been accused of failing the sport by not doing enough to tackle systematic doping. The issue of drugs has certainly tarnished his, and his predecessor Hein Verbruggen's, reign.

Cookson has been a fierce critic of the UCI's handling of the Armstrong affair.

But writing in his manifesto, McQuaid said: "I stand four-square behind my record in cycling."

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McQuaid set out four priorities for the next four years, including "to preserve the new culture and era of clean cycling".

He said: "Cycling has changed since I was first elected as UCI president in 2005. It is now a global sport. It is now possible to race and win clean. We have travelled a great distance together and we must never turn back from cycling's bright future.

"My mission now is to preserve the changed culture within the peloton and team entourage. I have introduced the most sophisticated and effective anti-doping infrastructure in world sport to cycling. Our sport is leading the way and I am proud that other sports are following in its footsteps.

"The UCI now invests over 7.5million US dollars a year to keep our sport clean and to catch and prosecute those riders who refuse to embrace the new culture of clean cycling. The misdeeds of a few should not be allowed to tarnish the reputation of cycling or today's riders."

McQuaid proposed a series of initiatives to combat doping, including establishing an independent audit of the UCI's actions during the years when Armstrong was winning the Tour de France (1999-2005).

He promised to make the UCI's Cycling Anti Doping Foundation more independent and help fund it by increasing the UCI World Tour teams' contributions to anti-doping.

McQuaid also vowed to end the inequality between men's and women's cycling by establishing an independent UCI Women's Commission with responsibility for developing all disciplines of women's cycling.

"I will bring a new focus to the development of women's cycling. It is not acceptable that women in cycling do not receive the same pay, prize money and conditions as men. It is past time for this inequality to be brought to an end," he said.

His other manifesto aims are: to modernise the way that cycling is presented as a global sport and to foster the global development of cycling.

The election will take place at the UCI Congress in September.

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