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Tuesday 24 October 2017

UCI's Cookson calls on Hein to resign

UCI president Brian Cookson has called on predecessor Hein Verbruggen to resign from his position as honorary president of the organisation after a damning report into its failure to address doping in the sport was published yesterday.

The report by the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) - which was set up by Cookson in January last year - blamed a culture of cover-ups within the organisation for failing to bring disgraced former Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong to justice.

And it specifically accused former UCI presidents Verbruggen and Ireland's Pat McQuaid of failing to follow their own anti-doping regulations and not holding Armstrong to the same rules that other riders were expected to follow.

In a statement Cookson said: "Given the contents of the CIRC report, I do indeed think that it would be appropriate for Mr Verbruggen to consider his honorary position with the UCI."

Cookson highlighted an incident in the 1999 Tour de France in which Armstrong was allowed to have a therapeutic use exemption backdated - in clear contravention of UCI rules - as an example of favouritism shown towards the American.

"The UCI clearly prioritised at the time covering up and defending the so-called reputation of the sport rather than catching people who were cheating," he said.

"This was a major error of judgement in my view, which led to a lot of problems for cycling.

"To add to that, another problematic element was the (1999) (Emile) Vrijman report which investigated allegations that Lance Armstrong's use of EPO - and it is clear from the report today that the UCI never had the slightest intention of that report being genuinely independent.

"Both of those things were very damaging and led to a very problematic era for our sport."

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