By Duncan Mackay

Pat McQuaid in front of UCI logoJune 5 - Pat McQuaid has attempted to cast doubt over Brian Cookson's decision to stand against to become President of the International Cycling Union (UCI) by writing a letter to the heads of all the national federations trying to claim that Russian oligarch Igor Makarov is behind it.

Cookson, the President of British Cycling, officially announced in London yesterday that he would stand against McQuaid, claiming that under the Irishman there was a "widespread absence of confidence in the integrity of the organisation".

McQuaid has now written to the national federation chiefs.

"While I would welcome any candidate to stand - the UCI will always be a democracy while I am in office - I must admit that I find Mr Cookson's decision to be an odd one for a number of different reasons," wrote McQuaid.

Among the topics that McQuaid raises is reminding them that Cookson had publicly and privately supported him despite the controversy caused by the Lance Armstrong scandal. 

"'A number of people [outside of UCI circles] have asked me if I would be interested in becoming UCI President...My response has always been that I am supportive of you, that I do not think you should nor will be resigning, and that it is not on my personal agenda, nor am I seeking that office,'" Cookson had written in private correspondence reproduced in the letter McQuaid has sent. 

"'The last thing I want is for a bandwagon to start rolling with my name on it, and I have certainly not been going about promoting myself as your successor, nor would I do so.

"'I think it is vital that we remain united and that I retain your trust.

"'If you have any doubt, I will undertake to make clear what I have said to anyone who has asked - I will not challenge you for the position of UCI President.'"

Igor Makarov with Pat McQuaidRussian Cycling Federation President Igor Makarov (left) has been accused by Pat McQuaid (right) of being behind Brian Cookson's decision to stand against him

McQuaid also raised concerns in his letter over the rumoured links between Cookson and Makarov, a billionaire who is the the President of the Russian Cycling Federation and a member of the UCI's ruling Management Committee, and Poland's European Cycling Union (UEC) Honorary President and former UCI Management Committee member Wojciech Walkiewicz who, McQuaid claimed, had been trying to find a candidate to stand against him.

Waliewicz is accused by McQuaid of being "notorious for manipulating elections", claiming that he had previously been guilty of breaching the UCI Code of Ethics "for arranging for national federations to club together secretly to pre-determine the result of the 2005 UEC elections by fixing the list of election candidates" and that there had been similar patterns of voting in the 2009 and 2013 polls.

"Now Mr Walkiewicz appears to be trying to do the same for the UCI," wrote McQuaid, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee. 

"Mr Walkiewicz is employed by UCI Management Committee member Igor Makarov.

"A number of other Management Committee members have told me that they had been invited to Moscow but had refused.

"Mr Cookson, however, informed me recently that he was going to Moscow to meet with Mr Makarov and Mr Walkiewicz.

"I have subsequently had confirmation that at least one meeting took place, although perhaps in a different capital city.

"I fear Mr Cookson may be a pawn in a larger game.

"Mr Makarov, owner of Katusha, has expressed his anger on a number of occasions that the UCI Licence Commission denied his team a place in the 2013 WorldTour for 'ethical reasons'.

"The independence and impartiality of the Licence Commission is exactly the sort of positive step forward that the UCI has taken in the past decade.

The Katusha team were initially denied a renewal of its WorldTour licence for 2013 and were subsequently left off the invited wildcard teams for the Giro d'Italia.

They were eventually awarded a licence after appealing successfully to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, something McQuaid fails to mention in his letter.

Brian Cookson One Aldwych London 4 2013 2Brian Cookson's decision to stand against Pat McQuaid has upset the Irishman, who has sent a letter questioning his motives to the all heads of the national federations

"Mr Cookson's decision to announce his candidacy for the UCI President raises a number of important issues," writes McQuaid.

"Given all this, I think it is for Mr Cookson to explain his reasons for meeting Mr Makarov at the behest of Mr Walkiewicz.

"All three men have strong ties to World Tour teams.

"In the interest of transparency, Mr Cookson must answer a number of questions and I intend writing to him to seek clarification."

To read the full letter click here.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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