September 25 - Britain's Brian Cookson was today accused of using "subversive legal tactics and intimidation" in his campaign to replace Pat McQuaid as President of the International Cycling Union (UCI).
The explosive allegation came from Cyril Mangal, President of the St Lucia Cycling Association, who has circulated a letter to all 178 countries who are members of the UCI on the eve of the world governing body's Congress here on Friday (September 27).
Mangal is upset that he was contacted by Pascale Schyns via WhatsApp, a cross-platform instant messaging subscription service, who urged him to back Cookson over McQuaid and promised St Lucia help if he publicly declared his support.
"St Lucia is very concerned that when we were contacted by someone supporting Cookson, the person indicated 'I would like you to be on the right side after the election, so you are on the priority list of the Federations which would be helped'," Mangal wrote in his six-page open letter, which insidethegames has a copy of.
"We sincerely hope that this would not be the way Mr Cookson would operate should he win the Presidency of the UCI."
Cookson denied that any member of his team had contacted St Lucia on his behalf even though Schyns was at the press conference he held here today.
The Belgian, a former journalist, is the official translator for the Tour de France and was a UCI commissaire for 15 years until she resigned at the end of 2011 in protest at McQuaid's leadership.
In his letter, Mangal also criticises the role Russian oligarch Igor Makarov has played in Cookson's campaign.
Makarov, a member of the UCI's ruling Management Committee, has publicly backed Cookson and is behind the notorious dossier which accuses McQuaid of corruption and being involved in covering up positive drugs tests.
McQuaid, who has denied the allegations contained in the dossier, has asked for it to be investigated by the UCI Ethics Commission but they still have to receive a copy of the document.
"Makarov...has gone on a frolic of his own in his deceptive campaign against President Pat McQuaid," writes Mangal.
"Now tell me, what gives Mr Makarov the right to independently hire private investigators and unilaterally decide that the UCI Ethics Commission is not independent?
"Who gave Mr Makarov the authority to completely ignore the disciplinary mechanisms of the UCI...So are we supposed to believe that Mr Makarov is independent and that he alone can decide who is independent?
"If there is genuine doubt why can't Mr. Makarov and company take their complaint to the highest authority which is the UCI congress?"
But Cookson remains confident that he has enough support to unseat McQuaid, who has been head of the UCI since 2005 but has been under increasing pressure following the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) decision to ban Lance Armstrong for life and strip him of his seven Tour de France titles.
"I'm feeling confident heading into the last 48 hours of the campaign and looking forward to meeting and talking with colleagues from around the world," he said.
"I have been humbled by the well wishes I have received from the cycling community across the globe, including many ordinary cycling fans, who have told me how much they want to see change in the leadership of the UCI.
"On Friday we have the opportunity to begin to respond to those hopes and aspirations and embrace a new style of governance, a new way of working and enter an exciting new era for the UCI and our sport.
"We have to begin a process which will restore trust and credibility in all that we do.
"I do not say this just because it is the right thing to do.
"I say it because at the heart of my vision for the UCI is a passionate yet simple belief.
"It is this - by restoring the reputation of our International Federation our sport, cycling, will start to benefit from new investment, greater broadcast coverage, more cities wanting to host events and ultimately more riders and fans being drawn into cycling.
"Friday is a crossroads moment.
"When delegates cast their vote I ask that they think of those millions of people who love our sport, who want to encourage their children to be a part of it as cyclists and as fans.
"I want to make our sport one where people can admire their heroes without doubt, aspire to compete, be a professional, even win a Tour or an Olympic medal and know that their friends will respect and not question them.
"Ultimately, it is about a return to our core values and if we are prepared to take that step then we begin to tap into the amazing potential that we all know exists.
"That is what motivates me, what has driven me as President of British Cycling and why I believe I would be a UCI President that the cycling family can be proud of."
To read the full letter from Mangal click here.
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