Brian Cookson has suggested the Cycling Independent Reform Commission he created in 2013 could have led to the failure of his bid for re-election as president of the UCI.
Cookson’s hopes of serving a second term as head of the world governing body were crushed as he lost last month’s vote 37-8 to his former vice-president, Frenchman David Lappartient.
The ex-head of British Cycling has blamed the loss on ‘politicking’, and suggested the program of reforms he pursued during his four years in charge may have ruffled too many feathers.
“There were people who didn’t want to change some of those things,” said Cookson. “Frankly, some people who were perhaps part of the investigations that we did, the CIRC that we put in place to investigate all of cycling’s problems from the past 15-20 years.
“A number of people were named in that report as being less than perfect in their decisions and dealings with the sport and their actions, whether it be as riders or team managers or officials of the UCI, and some of those people were pretty angry about what was said about them and that was reflected in the campaign that was put together.
“We started to see people like (former UCI president) Pat McQuaid giving interviews and criticising me and the administration I was running.
“We saw people like Lance Armstrong tweeting nonsense, negative things about me. People who had hardly covered themselves in glory as figures in our sport but who still had a bit of traction and people still listened to them.
“There were others behind the scenes. It’s sad to say the late Hein Verbruggen (also a former UCI president), I know he was actively involved before he died in supporting David and getting people to support his campaign.
“It’s regrettable but I think that was part of it.”
The CIRC was one of several initiatives introduced by Cookson as he sought to “hit the reset button” on a sport he said was broken when he took over in 2013.
“We should remember how bad the UCI and the sport of cycling was back in 2013,” he said.
“It really was broken. There were broken relations with the media, with sponsors, with race organisers and worst of all with fans, who were sick to death of the sport going from one crisis to another.”
The 66-year-old said he was proud of the work he did to address those problems – revising the UCI’s constitution, repairing relations with the World Anti-Doping Agency, introducing a new independent ethics commission and more.