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by Shane Stokes
December 24, 2015
Photography by Cor Vos
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A dispute has sprung up between former UCI president Hein Verbruggen and the current head of the governing body, Brian Cookson, with both speaking publicly about this weeks’ news that an agreement had been reached between them in the wake of the CIRC report.
On Monday, Verbruggen told the Inside The Games website that the agreement would see Cookson end calls for him to resign from his title of Honorary President, would display a link on the UCI website giving Verbruggen a right to reply to the CIRC report and also to pay a financial contribution to him. According to Inside The Games, this was around €40,000 (£29,000/$43,000).
In response, Cookson told CyclingTips and others that he had indeed met with Verbruggen, but that he considered the Dutchman to have reneged on what was agreed then.
“We came to a confidential agreement which was to ensure, amongst other things, that he would stop using his influence to criticise and cause trouble for the UCI,” he stated. “Since Mr Verbruggen never respected his commitments, the agreement is considered null.
“No money has ever been paid to Mr Verbruggen since I became President.”
Verbruggen hit back on Wednesday, telling the same Inside the Games website that he considered Cookson and the UCI to have reneged on the agreement.
“Both Cookson/UCI and Verbruggen have executed all obligations under that agreement except that the UCI did not pay the agreed-upon contribution to Verbruggen’s costs,” he said, referring to himself in the third person.
“Now that this obligation and the corresponding breach of contract have become public, Cookson, almost half-a-year after the agreement was signed, comes up with a fabricated argument that Verbruggen would not have respected the agreement; conveniently not specifying the alleged breach.
“Besides, Verbruggen has never been informed by Cookson that in the latter’s view he would have done something in breach of the agreement.
“The agreement has been validly signed, has been fully executed except for the payment by UCI, and remains fully in place, it is for Cookson/UCI to live up to their signature.”
Cookson gave his own thoughts on the matter to the Guardian. “The IOC asked us to meet him because he was getting crosser and crosser over the CIRC report, so we met with a third party from the IOC,” he stated.
“We weren’t going to remove the CIRC report from the public domain, Hein has had his say with the website he has created and we’ve put a link to that off our website.”
As regards the financial payment, he said it was less than Verbruggen claimed and said he and the UCI were justified in not following through on it.
“Hein wanted us to pay money towards his costs, I said we might pay a small amount, he came back with a figure and we said no,” he said. “We might have made a small gesture of goodwill but not 40,000 Swiss francs.
“The agreement was falling down anyway because Hein hasn’t respected his side of the bargain. We have evidence that he was involving himself in UCI politics, and as far as I’m concerned the agreement is null and void. We haven’t paid any money. Absolutely not.”
As for the honorary president title, he said it is in name only.
“He may hold the position but it is a meaningless title. It’s not in my gift to remove it. He doesn’t receive UCI papers, and he doesn’t have access to UCI papers.
“He has no influence on the UCI and he will continue not to do so as long as I remain UCI president.”