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Verbruggen steps down from UCI vice presidency

Hein Verbruggen (file photo) Photo: © Mark Gunter

Hein Verbruggen (file photo) Photo: © Mark Gunter

The UCI confirmed on Wednesday that Vice President Hein Verbruggen, was stepping down after three years in the role. He has held the post since shortly after Pat McQuaid took over from him as President. Verbruggen also resigned his position with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in the final days of the Beijing Olympic Games.

Verbruggen will retain the title of UCI Honorary President; however, the 67 year-old Dutchman said he is looking forward to having time to read and study history. He served as the UCI's President from 1991 to 2005.

Commenting on the ongoing rancor between the UCI and the Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), the organizers of the Tour de France, he told the AFP, "It is a clear we are at a low point. There is much work to do, starting with an agreement." He gave a glimmer of hope though by saying that the disputing parties were close to an agreement, with the ProTour continuing and organizers retaining TV rights. Verbruggen started the ProTour near the end of his tenure as President.

Verbruggen gave his opinion about the prevalence of doping in cycling. "The problem of doping is not greater in cycling than in other sports. But unfortunately we have this image and the image is often more important than the facts."

Finally, he denied rumors that he and Lance Armstrong would combine their resources to buy the company which owns the Tour de France, although he reacted positively to Armstrong's return to racing and likely eighth attempt at winning the Tour de France.

He noted that others might not be as supportive of Armstrong's comeback. "He has a lot of charisma and is popular in a lot of countries. There are some who will welcome his comeback a lot more than others," said Verbruggen to the AFP.

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