By Duncan Mackay

Pat McQuaid profile 4July 8 - Pat McQuaid today launched his manifesto as he seeks a third term as President of the International Cycling Union (UCI), claiming that he was fully committed to the fight against doping. 

The Irishman, first elected as President of the UCI in 2005, is facing a challenge for the top job in cycling from Britain's Brian Cookson amid concerns over his role in the Lance Armstrong scandal.

But in the manifesto, titled "A Bright Future for a Changed Sport" and launched on the rest day of the Tour de France, McQuaid insists that he has done more than anyone to try to clean the sport up.

"I am delighted to launch my re-election campaign and to present my vision for cycling's future to the cycling family whose support over the past eight years has enabled me to transform our sport," he said.

"Cycling has changed since I was first elected as UCI President in 2005.

"It is now a global sport.

"It is now possible to race and win clean.

"We have travelled a great distance together and we must never turn back from cycling's bright future."

Pat McQuaid with Alberto Contador World Championships 2012Pat McQuaid with Alberto Contador during last year's World Championships in Maastricht, one of several top riders implcated in drugs scandals while he has been UCI President

Cookson has claimed that McQuaid needs to be replaced to help restore the image of the sport. 

But McQuaid insists that people back him.

"My mission now is to preserve the changed culture within the peloton and team entourage. I have introduced the most sophisticated and effective anti-doping infrastructure in world sport to cycling," he said.

"Our sport is leading the way and I am proud that other sports are following in its footsteps.

"The UCI now invests over $7.5 million (£4.7 million/€5.6 million) a year to keep our sport clean and to catch and prosecute those riders who refuse to embrace the new culture of clean cycling.

"The misdeeds of a few should not be allowed to tarnish the reputation of cycling or today's riders."

But the shadow of Armstrong, stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after he admitted systematic doping throughout his career, hangs over McQuaid's Presidency.

Even today, McQuaid was forced to defend Britain's Chris Froome, current holder of the Tour de France's yellow jersey, and his Team Sky colleagues against accusations of doping.

Chris Froome Tour de France July 7 2013Britain's Chris Froome has come under suspicion of doping since taking over the leader's yellow jersey in the Tour de France, which UCI President Pat McQuaid claims is unfair

"I don't think he should be a factor," McQuaid told Associated Press in an interview.

"This election should not be about what happened 10 years ago.

"This election should be about cycling today and cycling tomorrow.

"I think the riders deserve another thing than to be asked about doping as the first question when they show up in the press conference.

"In the recent classics, yesterday and the day before, the first questions the riders had to answer was about doping, I think it is unfortunate.

"I think the media have to understand the riders of today don't deserve to be judged on the mistakes of their predecessors, of the riders of a generation of the past now.

"Riders of today need to be respected for what they are trying to do, which is to race clean and race without a doping programme."

Brian Cookson on bike in ParisBritain's Brian Cookson is challenging Pat McQuaid and claims that a change at the top is needed if confidence is to be restored in the reputation of the UCI

McQuaid's manifesto, however, was attacked by Cookson.

"Pat has been President of the UCI for two terms," he said.

"While his manifesto outlines what he believes still needs to be done for the UCI, I think that many people will judge him on his record, and ask why those things haven't been done in the last eight years.

"Unfortunately under his Presidency far too much energy and resource have been devoted to destructive feuding and conflict rather than grabbing hold of the issues, listening to the right people and delivering solutions.

"In his manifesto he talks about the UCI Stakeholders Consultation but I think he fails to address the number one critical recommendation - that the UCI 'must take the steps necessary to restore cycling's and its own credibility, in particular in relation to the public perception of cycling's anti-doping measures and current UCI leadership'.

"It is my belief and that of many others that we need a complete change of leadership in order to successfully achieve this."

To read the full manifesto click here.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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