UCI president Brian Cookson has hit back at criticism about the way he handled the recent Astana WorldTour licence case by claiming his actions had "a pretty major overhaul within Astana of their processes and procedures".
Cookson also hit back at former president Hein Verbruggen who has described his leadership of the UCI as 'weak and indecisive'. The former head of British Cycling Federation hinted he will likely stand for a second four-year term as UCI president in 2017 to complete his many campaign promises and manifesto.
Cookson told Cyclingnews last December that the Astana team was 'drinking the last chance saloon'; when the UCI finally awarded the Kazakhstani team a place in the 2015 WorldTour despite several cases of doping in 2014. However, the UCI lost its battle for the withdrawal of the team’s licence in late April when the UCI Licence Commission ruled against withdrawal during the season, saying that the team had begun to make changes in the way it operated and agreed to adhere strictly to the remedial action recommended by the Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne (ISSUL).
"I don't regret what I said because I think that had an impact on the team and they realised how serious the situation was for them," Cookson told the Telegraph newspaper in London after attending the Telegraph Business of Sport conference.
"That caused a pretty major overhaul within Astana of their processes and procedures, and an acceptance that they needed to make that radical overhaul."
Verbuggen's claims are laughable
Hein Verbruggen attacked Cookson after the publishing of the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) report, funded by the UCI.
In a long letter leaked to the media, Verbruggen described the CIRC report as biased and warned he may take legal action after his lawyers read the report in detail. Verbruggen has declined to give up his Honoury UCI President status and suggested that Cookson and his senior management had created a 'climate of fear' amongst UCI staff.
Cookson reportedly dismissed Verbruggen claims as laughable.
"I know my people at the UCI. I'm confident that we've got a good, happy and professional workforce and that we've got the processes in place that if people aren't happy or feel intimidated in the way Verbruggen suggests, they would feel comfortable coming to me. I don't recognise the picture of the UCI that he painted in any way, shape or form," Cookson told the Telegraph.
Cookson revealed he has referred the matter to the UCI's Ethics Commission and hoped for action before September's UCI congress. He warned that if Verbruggen had not resigned by then, his honorary presidency might be revoked.