Former UCI president Hein Verbruggen has launched an attack on Brian Cookson, the man currently at the reins of cycling's governing body. In an article on his newly-launched website entitled 'Brian Cookson's frustration,' Verbruggen claims that Cookson was left frustrated by the Cycling Independent Reform Commission’s inability to unearth proof of corruption in the UCI's past, and hence was forced to "change his 'cover-ups' mantra into one about 'significant decisions that caused damage to the UCI,' all of which is based on a clearly biased report."
The highly-anticipated CIRC report came out in March and while it was unable to find proof of corruption within the UCI, it voiced concerned about certain aspects within the organisation and Verbruggen's running of it. On his website, Verbruggen has published a series of articles where he states his belief that the intention of the CIRC was not to uncover the sport's past but specifically to target the UCI and its alleged cover-ups during his time as president.
"He [Cookson] was convinced that there must be cover-ups. Who gave him this conviction, particularly as he was a UCI Board Member and so a front-row observer of how the UCI actually operated? I suppose WADA did," writes Verbruggen.
WADA and the UCI
At the bottom of a series of bullet-point conclusions at the end of the article, Verbruggen continues to question the relationship between the UCI and WADA. He believes that CIRC followed Cookson's example by putting the sole blame for the conflict between the two organisations on the UCI.
Verbruggen also questions Cookson's belief that WADA should be involved in any anti-doping investigation, saying that it "automatically results in WADA being shielded against scrutiny of its own wrongdoings."
In a separate article on his website – called 'My correspondence with the CIRC' – Verbruggen goes into further detail on his attempts to have the commission look into WADA and any potential wrongdoing in regard to anti-doping in cycling.
"I had very specifically requested that WADA be included in the CIRC's investigation. However, its final report shows that the CIRC (whose members, let us not forget, were nominated in collaboration with WADA) has not carried out any such investigation. One might understand, therefore, that I feel totally deceived by the CIRC and that the CIRC, from the very beginning, must have been biased and operating under WADA's influence," Verbruggen writes.
Verbruggen states that Dick Marty, the lead investigator on the CIRC panel, was initially interested in looking into WADA and the Swiss former prosecutor requested more information from him in September 2014. Verbruggen claims he had already sent a "comprehensive report" a month earlier "about how Pound, via WADA, had led an orchestrated campaign against me, the UCI and cycling."
He says that he sent additional information to the CIRC, none of which appeared in the later report. Verbruggen says that this shows a lack of transparency from the Commission and proves it was a "biased Commission."
In yet another article - named 'My report to the UCI' - Verbruggen claims that the CIRC tried to persuade him to keep his report confidential. He continues by writing that "The poor perception of cycling with regard to anti-doping is primarily due to WADA's and Dick Pound's smear campaigns.
"Under my Presidency, there was no complicity, no bribery, and there were no cover-ups."
In the article on Cookson, Verbruggen also highlights certain aspects of Cookson's manifesto, which was released following his announcement that he would stand for UCI president, regarding allegations of UCI collusion and corruption. He goes on to attack the make-up of the CIRC panel, which was made up of two prosecutors and a lawyer, before focusing on the raid on the UCI's offices, in Aigle.
In a section called "Cookson's raid", Verbruggen explains that a team of forensic specialists were sent to Aigle under the instruction of Cookson's assistant Martin Gibbs. He refers to the raid as "police-state methods" and criticises the CIRC for failing to include it in their report.
"The CIRC report makes no mention of this extraordinary incident and does not even question the violations of privacy rights."
Verbruggen claims that Cookson's conviction that there had to be a cover-up within the UCI and his subsequent frustration at failing to expose it led what he calls the CIRC's 'character assassination' of him. He also accuses Cookson of being obsessed with his resignation from the position of honorary president.
Cookson issued a brief statement on Wednesday when rumours emerged that Verbruggen was about to launch his website, stating that: "If Mr Verbruggen wishes to sue the UCI, that of course is a matter for him. However, I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that the CIRC report was a wholly independent investigation led by an extremely reputable and experienced team of experts. Their report and recommendations have been very helpful in rebuilding trust in cycling and the UCI."
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