The campaign for UCI president has become more heated as the vote at the UCI Road World Championships in Bergen, Norway, draws closer, with incumbent Brian Cookson accusing opponent David Lappartient of soliciting the support of former president Pat McQuaid and raising fears that should the Frenchman win, he would install McQuaid into a 'senior role' at the UCI.
Cookson defeated McQuaid in the 2013 election in Florence, Italy, after a lengthy and contentious campaign that focused on restoring the UCI's reputation in the wake of Lance Armstrong's ban and subsequent doping confession. McQuaid has been openly derisive of Cookson, telling Cyclingnews in July "I think Brian's been a fraud", and "they've made a total balls of the WorldTour".
While Cookson described the spectre of McQuaid returning to Aigle as evidence of the 'devastating direction' Lappartient would take the federation, his opponent denied soliciting McQuaid's support.
"I am aware of the rumours that Pat McQuaid has been actively lobbying on behalf of UCI presidential candidate David Lappartient," Cookson said in a statement to the BBC.
"I have of course seen the declarations Pat McQuaid has made recently in support of David in the media, and I have also been shown proof that Pat is actively lobbying on David's behalf.
"Only they know if Pat has been offered a senior role at the UCI, which would be a grave concern for anyone who can recall the disastrous situation that the UCI was in just four years ago under his leadership."
Cookson continued, alleging that Lappartient's failures to renounce the support of McQuaid was no surprise, claiming the Frenchman "hosted Pat and other former executives at the first Elite European Road Championships in France last year".
Lappartient denied any involvement in McQuaid's support.
"From information I gathered, it has been reported that Mr. McQuaid has sent an email to a couple of delegates, whom he knows, by telling them his personal opinion about Brian Cookson and therefore calling on them to support my candidature," Lappartient said, according to the BBC.
"This was a personal act of McQuaid and not on my demand. By saying, 'Only they know if…' seems to me, once again, Brian Cookson is certain of nothing. Making false comments like these is unsportsmanlike behaviour.
"To set the record straight, during the Elite European Road Championships in France last year Brian Cookson is referring to, McQuaid called and asked if he could stop by since he was nearby. I immediately informed Brian Cookson, then McQuaid was of course given access to see the race as he asked to.
"It is pitiful that Brian Cookson is not concentrating his time and energy on explaining any vision he may have for cycling development in the next four years. That is what delegates are expecting, and not to delve into and hide behind old stories from four years ago.
"This act is undoubtedly a clear sign of despair from Brian Cookson and his languished campaign."