McQuaid denies leaked file alleging deep UCI corruption, cover-ups
UCI president Pat McQuaid issued a statement Monday, strongly denying a dossier of allegations of corruption aimed at him and his predecessor, Hein Verbruggen.
According to an anonymously leaked document — a three-page summary of a 54-page dossier that has existed since June — McQuaid and Verbruggen solicited a bribe from a team owner, bent drug-testing rules for Lance Armstrong and allowed his attorneys to review an independent inquiry into his doping, and attempted to cover up Alberto Contador’s 2010 positive drug test during their tenures as leaders of the Union Cycliste Internationale, the governing body of cycling.
Verbruggen was UCI president from 1991 to 2005. McQuaid has been president of the UCI since 2006, and is seeking election to a third term next month.
The accusations appeared in a document titled “A Report on Corruption in the Leadership of the Union Cycliste Internationale,” leaked to VeloNews on Monday.
According to the document, the full dossier’s findings are based largely on testimonial evidence and, in some cases, documentary findings.
“The unnamed individual providing this information has seen the entire Report consisting of 54 pages and 26 document exhibits, and he/she has knowledge of the individuals described in detail in The Report,” the document read. “The release of this summary was not directed by anyone who commissioned or owns The Report. The Report was investigated and written by two senior law enforcement and intelligence officials who claim to have more than 60 years of investigative experience, They claim to have been assisted by an internationally known private investigative firm with offices across the globe.”
In June, former USA Cycling president Mike Plant, a member of the UCI Management Committee, delivered the full dossier on McQuaid’s and Verbruggen’s activities to the Management Committee at a meeting in Norway.
Until Monday, Plant had not commented on the contents of the dossier, which has since been turned over to law enforcement authorities, according to the leaked document.
However, on Monday, Plant confirmed with VeloNews that the points in the leaked summary were the same points he had put forth in Norway. Another anonymous source, familiar with the dossier, also confirmed the legitimacy of the summary.
In a statement, McQuaid denied any wrongdoing.
“This evening, a cycling website was anonymously leaked a libellous ‘dossier,’ alleging corruption at the UCI,” McQuaid wrote. “The claims in this so-called dossier are a complete fabrication. They are totally untrue and are not supported by a scintilla of evidence.”
McQuaid did not, however, confirm or deny whether the summary was an accurate synopsis of the full dossier, which he allegedly first viewed at the Tour de France in late June.
In 2012, the document notes, there is “testimonial evidence” that McQuaid and Verbruggen solicited a 250,000 euro bribe ($330,000) from the owner of a professional team for promotion of the team, and cycling within the country of the team. The team owner declined to pay, according to the dossier summary.
Plant told Cyclingnews.com in August that the dossier was compiled by Russian cycling president Igor Makarov.
Makarov is the head of the Katusha ProTeam, which was controversially denied a WorldTour license in December 2012; the UCI cited “ethical reasons” for denying the team of then world No.1 ranked rider Joaquim Rodríguez. The Russian team appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and was awarded a license in February.
In another instance, McQuaid is alleged to have allowed the non-payment of a different team’s employees to persist, when contacted by those very employees for help.
In 2009, the Astana team faded sponsor logos on its jerseys during the Giro d’Italia after the team’s Kazakh backers fell behind in paying team wages. In June 2012, the UCI confirmed that three RadioShack riders had not been paid their salaries for three months. Both teams were run by Johan Bruyneel, longtime team manager of Lance Armstrong. The document sent to VeloNews did not mention Astana, RadioShack, or Bruyneel by name.
“The witness who provided this testimonial evidence claimed to have documentary evidence of this corrupt relationship including documents from a named international accounting firm that were altered,” the report claims.
The document also claims that there is testimonial evidence that the UCI attempted to cover up a failed drug test by Spanish rider Alberto Contador in 2010 in exchange for money, but the media’s awareness of the positive test prevented the cover-up from taking place. Contador tested positive for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France while riding for Astana.
McQuaid described the allegations as an attack by unnamed opponents.
“This is a scurrilous and libellous attack on my character, with a political agenda that is both nakedly transparent and totally contemptible,” he wrote, “and unfortunately one that is completely in character with the tactics of my opponents.”
The report also highlights the UCI’s relationship with Armstrong, the former seven-time Tour de France winner who has since admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs and been stripped of his Tour titles.
The UCI allowed Armstrong to race in 2009 at the Tour Down Under, the first race in his comeback, even though the Texan had not been in the anti-doping testing pool for the required six months. In return, Armstrong, the document alleges, agreed to ride the Tour of Ireland for free.
McQuaid’s brother, Darach McQuaid, was involved in producing the Tour of Ireland through his company, Shadetree Sports. The City of Richmond, Virginia, contracted Shadetree Sports to organize its bid to host the 2015 UCI world road championships; the bid was awarded, by the UCI, in September 2011.
There is also the allegation of corruption regarding Armstrong’s 1999 Tour de France urine samples, and a 2006 report on those tests, by Emile Vrijman, that Armstrong’s attorneys were allegedly able to review and edit.
At the time the report was released, in March 2006, McQuaid had been UCI president for many months.
“Mr. Verbruggen arranged for a friend of his, Emile Vrijman to conduct the independent review and report about the incident,” the document claims. “Armstrong’s personal attorneys wrote and edited portions of the report so they were most favorable to Mr. Armstrong. It is further alleged that Mr. Armstrong helped pay for the report. One witness stated that there is email evidence between Mr. Armstrong’s attorneys and UCI officials, which prove these facts.”
Armstrong declined to comment on the dossier’s allegations when contacted by VeloNews Monday afternoon.
The leaked file notes that McQuaid was “interviewed extensively” for hours by two investigators on May 18 of this year regarding the allegations of corruption, during which time he denied the charges. The document also alleges that on June 29, in Corsica, McQuaid read the report, and then communicated with Verbruggen about the contents of the report.
“Verbruggen then contacted several of the witnesses in The Report in an apparent effort to distance himself from Mr. McQuaid,” the document claims. “It thus appears the recent statements in the press last week by Mr. McQuaid that he has never seen The Report are false. It appears the statements to multiple witnesses by Mr. McQuaid that he intended to bring the allegations he was aware of in The Report to the UCI Ethics Commission are false. It appears the statements by both Mr. McQuaid and Mr. Verbruggen in the press last week that they have not recently communicated, and that Mr. Verbruggen no longer has anything to do with Mr. McQuaid or UCI, are also false.”
Verbruggen, Vrijman, and Bruyneel could not immediately be reached for comment.
Sean Petty, USA Cycling’s chief of domestic and international affairs, said his organization had not seen the dossier and did not participate in its compilation. He could not comment on its legitimacy.
British Cycling president and candidate for UCI president Brian Cookson did not immediately respond to requests for comment; he has previously said he was “disturbed” by the dossier’s findings.
In a blog on his website in June, following the Management Committee meeting in Norway, Cookson wrote, “I have to respect the confidentiality of the Management Committee with regards to the contents of the dossier with which we were presented. But what I can say is that I was disturbed by what I heard and I have been assured it will be properly investigated.”
According to McQuaid, the UCI Management Committee referred to the matter to its internal Ethics Commission, which has been unable to attain a copy of the dossier.
“The UCI Ethics Commission have already tried to investigate the matter,” McQuaid wrote in his statement. “The Ethics Commission asked for a copy of the dossier from Igor Makarov and Mike Plant, but both of them refused to hand it over to the Ethics Commission. That fact alone speaks volumes.”
McQuaid and Cookson are locked in a contentious election campaign for the UCI’s top post. A number of detractors have challenged the legitimacy of McQuaid’s candidacy after the federations in his home country of Ireland and adopted home of Switzerland refused to back his run for the seat.
The UCI Congress will elect the governing body’s next president at the world road championships on September 27 in Florence, Italy.