By Duncan Mackay

Igor Makarov head and shouldersJune 7 - Pat McQuaid's letter to the heads of the national federations criticising the decison by Briton Brian Cookson to challenge him for the Presidency of the International Cycling Union (UCI) is "unethical", claimed Russian oligarch Igor Makarov today.

Makarov (pictured top), billionaire President of the Russian Cycling Federation and a member of the UCI's ruling Management Committee, was named by McQuaid as being behind Cookson's campaign following a meeting in Moscow.

McQuaid called Cookson's decision to stand against him as "odd" and claimed he had gone back on his word not to challenge him.

The meeting was also attended by Wojciech Walkiewicz, Honorary President of the European Cycling Union (ECU) and a former member of the UCI Management Committee, who works for Makarov as head of his cycling team, Katusha, and who McQuaid claimed was "notorious for manipulating elections".

Brian Cookson in Russia May 2013British Cycling President Brian Cookson (right) during his meeting with the Russian Cycling Federation in Moscow last month

Makarov's company, Itera, also donated €1 million (£850,000/$1.3 million) to the ECU shortly after the last election, something McQuaid said caused him "extreme concern" in his letter.

Makarov has now issued a statement through Itera, his private group of companies based in Moscow which focuses on natural gas exploration and processing, in which he calls for McQuaid to be investigated.

"Using the name of Mr Igor Makarov, current President of Cycling Federation of Russia, Head of the Russian Cycling Development Project and a Member of UCI Management Committee in relations to UCI Presidential race is unethical and [he] hopes that UCI Ethics Committee will consider reviewing Mr McQuaid's actions and the nature of his letter in accordance to the UCI Code of Ethics," the statement said.

"Pertaining to Mr McQuaid's questions, expressed in the letter, we wanted to mention that for the last three years Itera, a company headed by Mr Makarov, has been an official sponsor of the European Cycling Union and this fact has never raised any concerns in the past.

"One of democracy's main principal is a freedom of choice.

"And because of that principal, Mr Cookson's candidacy, just as anyone else's for that matter, cannot be considered as 'odd'. Mr Cookson has utilised his right, nothing more.

"And concerning the meeting of Mr Makarov and Mr Cookson - it was not 'secretive' and took place within the scope of cooperation between national cycling federations.

"[A] corresponding press release was published on the official site of Russian Cycling Federation on May 15, 2013 (

"Moreover, being President of Cycling Federation of Russia and a Member of UCI Management Committee, Igor Makarov is repeatedly meeting with the representatives of other national federations and the UCI."

Katusha teamMarakov's Katusha team were turned down for a World Tour licence but appealed successfully to overturn the decision - something McQuaid failed to mention in his letter

Makarov is also critical that McQuaid raised the subject in his letter of the UCI's refusal to award Katusha a licence for the 2013 WorldTour for "ethical reasons", suggesting that is why he would back a challenge from Cookson for the Presidency.

What McQuaid failed to mention in his letter is that the decision was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland and Katusha were awarded a licence.

"Concerning the licence that was striped from the World Tour team Katusha, it was reinstated by the most democratic way possible - through an Arbitrary Court of Sports (sic) that has fully confirmed the illegitimacy of the UCI Licencing Committee actions," the statement from Itera said.

"In conclusion, the press-service of Igor Makarov would like to wish good luck and fair competition to all participants of UCI Presidential race and a well-deserved victory to the best one."

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