Verbruggen remains honorary UCI president after settling case

UCI forced to pay €40,000 in legal fees to Verbruggen

Former UCI president Hein Verbruggen has reportedly settled a legal case with the UCI that will allow him to remain its honorary president. According to a report on the insidethegames.biz website, the Dutchman agreed terms with the UCI to put a stop to legal proceedings that came up in the wake of the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC).

UCI president Brian Cookson has previously called for Verbruggen to step down as the honorary president, something that he has refused to do, but the latest ruling will prevent this. “Mr. Cookson renounces definitively from asking me to resign from my Honorary-Presidency and agrees not to mention this question anymore publicly or privately,” Verbruggen told insidethegames.

Verbruggen and fellow former UCI president Pat McQuaid were heavily criticised in the CIRC report, which was issued in March after a year-long investigation. The report was very critical of Verbruggen and McQuaid’s relationship with Lance Armstrong and accused the UCI management at the time of “protectionism and favouritism”. In particular, the report pointed at two donations made to the UCI from Armstrong, and Verbruggen’s role in the Vrijman report.

Verbruggen, who was UCI president between 1991 and 2005, dismissed the report, stating that it had failed to find any evidence of corruption and called it biased. He also accused Cookson of ‘political manoeuvring’.

“Even this defence of our sport is now being used against me by the CIRC and Mr. Cookson. But make no mistake, I am proud of it. I defended our sport (not doping!) when we were being unfairly treated and receiving undeserved criticism. In doing so, I defended also the reputation and the integrity of the UCI anti-doping workers, be it staff or volunteers! Instead of taking away honorary titles, Mr. Cookson should rather follow the example of this "dictator" and defend his sport and his athletes in the same way as I did," Verbruggen wrote on his website Verbruggen.ch, which he set up in June of this year.

In April, Verbruggen also sent a lengthy letter to the governing body questioning the validity of the report and indicated that he could take legal action. The Dutchman told insidethegames that he did indeed begin legal proceedings and also lodged a complaint with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Ethics Commission. The IOC went on to mediate between Verbruggen and the UCI, with an agreement signed at the end of the proceedings.

In addition to Verbruggen remaining the UCI’s honorary president, the UCI were required to publish text on their website with regards to Verbruggen’s reservations surrounding the CIRC report with a link to his website. A payment will also be made by the UCI to Verbruggen to help pay his legal fees. Insidethegames states that the payment will be around €40,000.

Cyclingnews has contacted the UCI but is still awaiting a response.

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