Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
Hein Verbruggen will contest any attempt by the Union Cycliste International (UCI) to force him to relinquish his title as Honorary President, and is having the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) report analysed by lawyers. In a letter written to all UCI board members, Verbruggen calls the CIRC report – which mentions his name 115 times – a ‘character assassination’. The letter was published in full by Belgian newspaper De Morgen.
In the letter, Verbruggen reveals that he is not going to accept UCI President Brian Cookson’s (pictured) 17 March request that he should relinquish his position as Honorary President. ‘Dear Friends and Management Committee Members, it is definitely not going to be that easy’, he writes. ‘Mr. Cookson is in for a surprise if he thinks that I will accept this scandalously biased CIRC-report and the same goes for taking away my honorary title. Indeed, the last word about the CIRC-report has not yet been written. I would like to make you aware that I am having the report analysed by Swiss lawyers’.
The CIRC report said that under Verbruggen’s leadership (1991-2005), the UCI had placed prioritised growing cycling as a sport over tackling doping. It said that UCI leadership had defended ‘stars’ such as Lance Armstrong in order to achieve this aim, ignoring allegations that he had doped and defending him against them.
In the letter, Verbruggen also alleges that the CIRC chose to ignore evidentiary documents submitted by him and other interviewees. He alleges that his cooperation with the CIRC was conditional on it investigating the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) ‘wrongdoings’ towards cycling and the UCI. ‘I presented an extensive report on this issue to the CIRC with a great many important questions, a number concerning WADA’, writes Verbruggen. ‘The CIRC totally ignored my report and my questions, in spite of the fact that they had assured me that “they would look into ALL STAKEHOLDERS”. The CIRC has even chosen not to publish my report as an attachment to theirs.’ Verbruggen said that he would shortly be sending his report to all UCI stakeholders, so that they can judge for themselves.
‘I therefore declare here and now that I will consider the withdrawal of my title to be a ‘sanction’ and I will NOT accept being sanctioned, especially not by such a person as Mr. Cookson!’, reads the letter. ‘Be aware that the UCI should be prepared to face legal action against any sanction imposed on me based on either Mr. Cookson declaring me a “dictator”, or on the clearly biased CIRC report’.
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