Cookson says he won't rely on courts to silence dissent

Ahead of Monday's release of his manifesto in Paris, UCI Presidential candidate Brian Cookson took to the twittersphere for a Q&A session on Friday. Later on his blog, Cookson specifically responded to questioned posed by journalist Paul Kimmage, where the Brit said that he believed in "freedom of debate".

Kimmage is the subject of defamation proceedings by current UCI President Pat McQuaid, his predecessor Hein Verbruggen and the sport's governing body, believed to stem from an interview the journalist did with Floyd Landis for The Sunday Times in 2011.

Kimmage put the following questions to Cookson:
There were three plaintiffs (PMCQ, HB and UCI) on the legal suit I was served: Were you party to this decision?
I'll try again...Were you party to the decision to sue Floyd Landis? Is suing whistleblowers in your manifesto?
As an example of openess and transparency would you mind answering my questions please? #askbrian

Cookson was hesitant to answer the queries directly "because they involve legal actions which are still live" but said that he was committed to providing answers as soon as he was able.

"What I can say as a general point, is that the UCI has expended too much time, resource and money fighting battles which have distracted it from far bigger problems – in particular doping," Cookson wrote.

"I can also say that if I am elected in September, the UCI will not use the courts to silence whistle-blowers, journalists or other dissenting voices. This is not to say we would not seek to communicate our own point of view or correct inaccuracies or unbalanced comment when appropriate but I am a firm believer in freedom of debate as being good for the long-term health of any sport."

Meantime, Lance Armstrong, who received a lifetime ban from competition last year for his part in what the United States Anti-Doping Agency called "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen," also had a question for Cookson.

Armstrong, has been forthright in his view that a proper investigation needed to target the era he raced, and not just the actions of his team. The American has also made clear that he will willing to participate in a truth and reconciliation commission.

"Question for @cooksonforuci - any plans to convene a Truth and Rec Commission to FULLY understand the mistakes of previous generations?" Armstrong asked."

Cookson responded by saying that he would be supportive if "if legal and practical hurdles can be overcome".

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1