News 14th June 2017

Hein Verbruggen’s death confirmed by the IOC

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has today confirmed the death of Hein Verbruggen, former President of the International Cycling Union (UCI) from 1991 to 2005, following a long battle with bone marrow cancer. Verbruggen was also a board member of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) from its establishment in 1999 until 2002, however left after becoming frustrated with its focus on creating a Code rather than tackling doping. During his tenure as UCI President, he says he repeatedly asked WADA for assistance in tackling the problem of erythropoietin (EPO) use in cycling, which was emerging at that time.

In April 2016, Verbruggen filed a complaint with the IOC Ethics Commission, which alleges that WADA knew about the problems with doping in athletics for many years, yet ignored it until the media discovered the issues. His complaint argues that WADA accused him and his successor, Pat McQuaid, of complicity in doping and corruption in cycling through a ’12-year long hate campaign’ following his exit from WADA.

The complaint also argues that despite WADA being directly involved in appointing members of the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC), its February 2015 Report cleared him and McQuaid of complicity in corruption. The CIRC Report found that the UCI prioritised the growth of cycling over talking doping in the early 1990s and 2000s.

‘One thing is extremely important to note – in fact the most important outcome of the CIRC’, reads Verbruggen’s Open Brief. ‘This totally subjective Commission, co-appointed by WADA, could find no evidence whatsoever of any complicity or corruption within the anti-doping policies of the UCI during my presidency (1991 – 2005), nor indeed during that of my successor, Pat McQuaid (2005-2013)’.

WADA asked Verbruggen to retract his complaint, and Verbruggen refused, instead publishing a detailed critique of the CIRC Report. In this, he argues that the CIRC ignored a 19-page report which he filed, as well as detailing his correspondence with the CIRC, which he also alleges was ignored. All of the information about his case was outlined on his internet site, the launch of which highlighted how much the complaint meant to him. He also launched a new blog, commenting on more general sports administration issues, earlier this year.

In the weeks before his death, Verbruggen told The Sports Integrity Initiative that he understood that his IOC Ethics Committee complaint would go ahead. Some of the details regarding his correspondence with WADA over the issue are available in this article. As today’s IOC statement doesn’t mention the Ethics Committee complaint, The Sports Integrity Initiative has asked the IOC if it will be processed following Verbruggen’s death. At time of publication, no response had been received.

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