Russian cycling President Igor Makarov has announced his support for Brian Cookson’s UCI presidential bid and hit back at incumbent Pat McQuaid for comments the Irishman gave earlier in the week.
At a UCI event in Switzerland on Wednesday, McQuaid was asked by Cyclingnews whether he thought Makarov had been working against him in the UCI election. Part of the response included the president of cycling’s governing body saying in front of a number of journalists, “We’re talking about a Russian here, don’t quote me on that.”
In a statement sent exclusively to Cyclingnews by Makorov’s representatives, the Russian replied, “I am surprised that the President of the UCI allows himself to speak in such a manner about Russia and its involvement in international cycling. This reminds me of the Cold War. I represent Russia within the international community of cycling and I'm obviously proud of it, and, like the citizens of my country, I want Russian cycling to develop together with the global sports.
“I believe that the development of international cycling in all parts of the world is a priority task of the UCI and national considerations could not take place. As an example, Russian team Katusha consists of riders from many different countries - Spain, Norway, Latvia, Italy, Russia etc. and all nationalities perform side by side in races, helping each other. The riders don’t think of the nationality differences, so then, why does the head of the International Cycling Federation make such statements?”
Until now, Makarov, who Forbes estimates to have a fortune close to 1.9 billion USD, has remained on the fringes of the UCI presidential debate, publicly at least. McQuaid is running for a third term with British Cycling’s Brian Cookson as his opponent. However, Makarov has made no secret of his desire for change as he wields influence behind the scenes. Publicly, for the first time, he has gone on record to back Cookson.
“There’s no need to look for a complicated reason why many people are opposed to Mr McQuaid's candidacy.
“Now, we must think about the future of cycling around the world, which under current management was almost withdrawn from the program of the Olympic games. In the future of cycling there is a place for a man whose personal ambitions come after the interests of this great sport and its members and it is my opinion that this man is Brian Cookson. It's time to give a chance to the one who will be able to 'restore order'.
“My opinion is reinforced by the attitude shown by the UCI and its leadership in the last couple of months, including an attempt to amend the rules of the Constitution of the UCI before the elections.”
When McQuaid was asked by Cyclingnews why he thought Makarov was working against his candidacy, McQuaid stated that it was down to Katusha’s issues with the WorldTour licensing at the end of 2012. Makarov went on in his statement to deny any such rift.
“I do not have and never had any personal dislikes towards Mr. Pat McQuaid, I just want to see a bright future for international cycling which is not possible with the current management. In my opinion, the controversies surrounding the past activities of the current president of the UCI are known to the world community. Therefore, I believe that the current objectives of the UCI must change dramatically. I openly state that I do not support the candidacy of Pat in the upcoming elections, but it is not connected with the fact that team Katusha was illegally deprived of the WorldTour license. This is enough to understand that I am not against a particular person, but I am for global cycling, to which Russia is a part!”
Makarov was asked to comment on the alleged dossier of corruption he has compiled against McQuaid but he declined to do so. The UCI election is set to take place next month in Florence, Italy.