Verbruggen should resign it is demanded as sponsor sues UCI over Armstrong affair

Monday, 05 November 2012
By Duncan Mackay

Hein Verbruggen profileNovember 5 - Pressure continues to mount on the leaders of the International Cycling Union (UCI) as the fall-out from the Lance Armstrong scandal shows little sign of abating.

The UCI is being sued by an Australian-owned company, who have sponsored cycling, for $2 million (£1.25million/€1.5 million) claiming they mismanaged the Armstrong doping scandal, it emerged today.

While, perhaps even potentially more damaging, the Danish Cycling Union (DCU) has launched a call for the UCI's Honorary President Hein Verbruggen to step down after he accepted a six-figure cash payment from Armstrong, a donation that has been linked to a covered up positive drugs test.

Tom Lund, the President of the DCU, has claimed that Verbruggen made a huge mistake when he accepted  $100,000 (£62,000/€78,000) from Armstrong supposedly to help educate young cyclists about the dangers of drugs in August 2002.

Hein Verbruggen with Lance ArmstrongHein Verbruggen's close links with Lance Armstrong are the subject of criticism

At the time Verbruggen was President of the UCI - a role he held between 1991 and 2005 - and remains a hugely influential figure within the sport as a member of the Management Committee and a close ally of Pat McQuaid, who replaced him.

"We think that Verbruggen must resign because as President he received a large amount of money from Lance Armstrong," he said on the Deadline programme on DR2 in Denmark.

"We do not think it is correct that he hides a large money transfer from a racer who subsequently is investigated about meeting the rules of the sport."

Former Armstrong teammates, Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton, have both alleged under oath that in 2001 a positive drugs test involving the American was covered up.

The legal action has been launched by Swiss-based sports clothing company Skins, which claims McQuaid and Verbruggen are responsible for a "total loss of confidence in professional cycling by the public".

Skins chairman Jaimie Fuller said in a statement the company had believed cycling had "fundamentally reformed" after the Festina scandal - when a large haul of doping products was found at the start of the 1998 Tour de France - but that had proven to not be the case.

Cycling Australia, USA Cycling and Rabobank have all been sponsored by Skins, a firm that designs and manufactures technical compression sportswear.

Pat McQuaid Limburg 2012UCI President Pat McQuaid has "failed to eradicate cheating" according to Skins chairman Jamie Fuller

The statement read: "The events of the last several months have made it abundantly clear that world cycling has not been the sport the general public and the corporate partners thought it was.

"Consequently, as chairman of a company that has made a significant financial and emotional investment, I am acting in order to send a message to the UCI and its senior office bearers that gross mismanagement and betrayal of trust is completely unacceptable.

"The recent report from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) which blew the lid off Lance Armstrong's systematic control of widespread doping, proved that the UCI its two leading figures, Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen, have failed to eradicate cheating within the sport.

"In fact, Mr McQuaid and Mr Verbruggen refused to even acknowledge that the problem was so entrenched until USADA forced them into submission.

"In short, we say that the UCI, Mr McQuaid and Mr Verbruggen have failed us, the sport and the public who love cycling."

Skins are using the law firm of Cedric Aguet, who is also representing Paul Kimmage, the former cyclist and writer who last week lodged a criminal complaint against McQuaid and Verbruggen. 

To read Jaimie Fuller: Why our hand has been forced into taking legal action against the UCI click here.

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