'Gangster politics' row in UCI race between Pat McQuaid and Brian Cookson


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The Independent Online

The International Cycling Union president, Pat McQuaid, has accused his rival in this month's election, Britain's Brian Cookson, of indulging in "gangster politics" following the latest string of allegations of corruption at the UCI.

A document anonymously leaked to Velonews.com on Monday night accused McQuaid of corruption and collusion with disgraced rider Lance Armstrong. The summary document also alleged the UCI tried to cover up a failed doping test by Spanish rider Alberto Contador in 2010 in exchange for money. Contador tested positive for the banned substance clenbuterol during the 2010 Tour.

Cookson today asked for a quick investigation into the claims and said he hoped any truth could be revealed before the UCI congress in Florence which will elect the world governing body's next president on 27 September. "These allegations, which appear to be similar to those made to the UCI management committee in June, are clearly very serious," Cookson said. "For the good of the UCI and cycling, they should be immediately and thoroughly investigated."

McQuaid, whose candidacy's legitimacy is being challenged by several national governing bodies, denied any wrongdoing. "The claims in this so-called dossier are a complete fabrication," he said in a statement. "They are totally untrue and are not supported by a scintilla of evidence. This is a scurrilous and libelous attack on my character, with a political agenda that is both nakedly transparent and totally contemptible – and unfortunately one that is completely in character with the tactics of my opponents."

In a separate letter sent to the presidents of national federations, McQuaid accused the Cookson camp of using "gangster politics" in their bid to derail his campaign for re-election.

"If Brian Cookson does not now condemn these tactics utterly, then we can only assume that he supports them – and we will all have a graphic preview of how the UCI will be run for the coming four years under his leadership and with his henchmen," he said.

"I am proud to stand before you as a candidate in this election. I am proud to present you with a clear choice of leadership for the coming four years.

"I will be prouder still if you choose me as your next President at Congress this month.But if you do not, I will accept your choice with good grace and I will leave Florence with my head held high.

"I will know that I have given my all to the UCI over the past eight years and that I have done everything possible to protect our democratic process. I challenge Brian Cookson to say the same thing."

Cookson has yet to respond to the McQuaid letter but is understood to be planning to write to the cycling federations himself later this week.