UCI president Pat McQuaid has done cycling untold harm, says challenger Brian Cookson

The Lance Armstrong affair and other doping scandals have tarnished the sport
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Pat McQuaid must accept a "lot of responsibility" for the "untold damage" done to cycling by the Lance Armstrong affair and other doping scandals, according to Brian Cookson, the Briton looking to oust him as president of the sport's governing body. Speaking in Manchester, Cookson added that victory for the Irishman in next week's election would be "disastrous" for the sport.

Cookson, president of British Cycling, believes he is attracting growing support before the election on 26 September in Florence – held to coincide with the World Championships – and has already been promised decisive support. He needs 22 of the 42-strong UCI electoral college and claimed to have backing in the "high 20s".

Cookson has made anti-doping and restoring cycling's battered image a centre point of his campaign and it appears to be striking a chord with federations in Europe, the US and Oceania despite what Cookson sees as an element of fear in standing up to McQuaid, who has been in office since 2006.

"The London Olympic Games' cycling events were a massive success," said Cookson. "So it's a real tragedy there has still been reputational damage to cycling in the period since that. Cycling's place in the Olympics depends very much on the credibility of the sport.

"[McQuaid] has to take a lot of responsibility. Historically, the UCI has simply not grasped the nettle firmly enough on doping. A lot of progress has been made but there is still a lack of belief in the honesty and integrity of the anti-doping processes run by the UCI."