Russian oligarch hits back as the presidential battle heats up
Igor Makarov, the President of Cycling Federation of Russia and owner of the Itera company that sponsors the Katusha team, has hit back at insinuations by Pat McQuaid about his support of rival presidential candidate Brian Cookson and his funding of the European Cycling Union.
In a statement issued by his press service, Makarov has called on the UCI Ethics Committee to review how McQuaid used Makarov's name in an attempt to discredit Cookson and his presidential bid.
In a letter to the national federation presidents which was leaked on Monday, McQuaid stated, "I fear Mr Cookson may be a pawn in a larger game. Mr Makarov, owner of Katusha, has expressed his anger on a number of occasions that the UCI Licence Commission denied his team a place in the 2013 WorldTour for 'ethical reasons'. The independence and impartiality of the Licence Commission is exactly the sort of positive step forward that the UCI has taken in the past decade."
In the carefully worded statement issued by the Itera Group, Russian Global Cycling Project, Makarov refuted those claims.
He confirmed that he had held talks in Moscow with Cookson, and pointed out that sponsorship from European Cycling Union by his Itera company has been active for three years without McQuaid raising concerns.
Highlighting the growing tension in the UCI Presidency battle and the power struggle for control of cycling's international federation, the Russian oligarch also reminded McQuaid that the Katusha team had secured its WorldTour licence 'by the most democratic way possible – through an Arbitration Court of Sports'.
In December the UCI Licence Commission had refused to give the Katusha team a WorldTour licence, citing ethical reasons. This verdict was over turned by CAS forcing the UCI to allow 19 WorldTour team in the peloton this year.
The full letter reads:
In response to the media published letter of Pat McQuaid, current President of International Cycling Union (UCI), to the heads on (sic) national cycling federations on Mr. McQuaid’s participation in the upcoming UCI presidential election, press-service of Mr. Igor Makarov is issuing the following statement:
Using the name of Mr. Igor Makarov, current President of Cycling Federation of Russia, Head of the Russian Cycling Development Project and a Member of UCI Management Committee in relations to UCI presidential race is unethical and hopes that UCI Ethics Committee will consider reviewing Mr. McQuaid’s actions and the nature of his letter in accordance to the UCI Code of Ethics.
Pertaining to Mr. McQuaid’s questions, expressed in the letter, we wanted to mention that for the last three years Itera, a company headed by Mr. Makarov, has been an official sponsor of the European Cycling Union and this fact has never raised any concerns in the past.
One of democracy’s main principal is a freedom of choice. And because of that principal, Mr. Cookson’s candidacy, just as anyone else’s for that matter, cannot be considered as “odd”. Mr. Cookson has utilized his right, nothing more. And concerning the meeting of Mr. Makarov and Mr. Cookson – it was not “secretive” and took place within the scope of cooperation between national cycling federations. Corresponding press release was published on the official site of Russian Cycling Federation on May 15, 2013 (http://fvsr.ru/federation-news/1344--c-.html). Moreover, being President of Cycling Federation of Russia and a Member of UCI Management Committee, Igor Makarov is repeatedly meeting with the representatives of other national federations and the UCI.
Concerning the license that was striped from the World Tour team Katusha, it was reinstated by the most democratic way possible – through an Arbitrary Court of Sports (CAS) that has fully confirmed the illegitimacy of the UCI Licensing Committee actions.
In conclusion, the press-service of Igor Makarov would like to wish good luck and fair competition to all participants of UCI presidential race and a well-deserved victory to the best one.