Former UCI President Hein Verbruggen has distanced himself from the current electoral contest between Pat McQuaid and Brian Cookson, insisting that he has “no opinion on anything.”
The Dutchman supported McQuaid as his successor when his tenure as UCI president came to an end in 2005, while McQuaid has defended Verbruggen against criticism of his record, and, in particular, allegations of impropriety in his treatment of Lance Armstrong.
Speaking to Cyclingnews on Wednesday, however, Verbruggen declined to comment when asked for his reaction to the news that Swiss Cycling had withdrawn its nomination of McQuaid as a candidate for the UCI presidential election.
McQuaid is now reliant on the contentious and still to be validated backing of the Moroccan and Thai cycling federations in order to contest the election, which takes place in Florence next month.
“I have absolutely no opinion on that. As a matter of fact, I have taken distance from sport and also from cycling, and I don’t want to be involved in anything anymore so I hope you appreciate that,” Verbruggen said. “This was a decision that I took a year ago, once I stepped down from SportAccord [the umbrella organisation for international sports federations - ed.] My involvement in sport is over and so I have even turned down a number of offers that I had in consulting in sport.”
While the 72-year-old Verbruggen remains listed as the honorary president of the UCI and an honorary member of the International Olympic Committee, he was adamant that his career in sports administration has come to an end but said that the decision was not linked to the fall-out of the Lance Armstrong affair.
“This has nothing to do with Armstrong, it was a decision I took – 38 years was enough,” he said. “I don’t want to be involved.”
Although Verbruggen joined Pat McQuaid in launching defamation proceedings against both Floyd Landis and Paul Kimmage last year, McQuaid this week denied that Verbruggen has offered any support to his re-election campaign, claiming to Cyclingnews that his predecessor had “disappeared off the face of the earth.”
For his part, Verbruggen stressed his neutrality in the contest between McQuaid and Cookson. “I have no opinion and both candidates know that I don’t want to have anything to do with it,” he said.
“I don’t have any opinion on anything, alright? As a matter of fact I’m biking. That was one of the reasons [for stepping down from SportAccord – ed.], because I wanted to have more time for biking and that’s what I’m doing now. You find me on the bike.”