UCI President Brian Cookson has released a statement in the wake of a reported settlement that will allow Hein Verbruggen to remain as the sport governing body’s honorary president. Despite reports of a lawsuit being settled, Cyclingnews understands from the UCI that there was no legal case, but rather a threat of legal action from Verbruggen and a complaint before the IOC Ethics Commission, which was later withdrawn.
Following a seemingly reluctant agreement, however, the UCI sent Cookson’s statement to Cyclingnews in an email Monday, which read,
"Those close to cycling know very well where the UCI went wrong in the past, including the conflicts it needlessly got into and which seriously damaged its credibility. I was elected to change the way the UCI conducts itself and therefore, following a request from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), I indeed met with Mr Hein Verbruggen last summer. We came to a confidential agreement, which was to ensure, amongst other things, that he would stop using his influence to criticise and cause trouble for the UCI. Since Mr Verbrugeen never respected his commitments, the agreement is considered null. No money has ever been paid to Mr Verbruggen since I became President."
According to a report on the insidethegames.biz website, Verbruggen agreed to terms with the UCI, which settled a legal case. However, according to the UCI, their disagreement had never reached the courts.
Cookson had called on Verbruggen to step down from his position as honorary president of the UCI after the Dutchman was criticised in the CIRC report for his relationship with disgraced seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.
The report also accused Verbruggen, who was the president of the UCI from 1991-2005, and the UCI at that time of protecting and giving favouritism to Armstrong, and described two donations made to the UCI from Armstrong, along with Verbruggen’s role in the Vrijman report.
However, Verbruggen said the report didn’t show any evidence to back up its claims and he questioned its validity.
Although Cookson had initially called on Verbruggen to step down as honorary president of the UCI, they seem to have reached an agreement whereby Verbruggen will remain in his position. In addition, insidethegames.biz reported that 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.
It was also reported that a payment will be made by the UCI to Verbruggen to help pay for his supposed legal fees, at roughly €40,000, a claim made by Verbruggen.
Following the settlement, Verbruggen told insidethegames.biz. “Mr. Cookson renounces definitively from asking me to resign from my Honorary-Presidency and agrees not to mention this question anymore publicly or privately.”