McQuaid hits back at challenger's 'flawed' agenda

Pat Mcquaid, president of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), waits for the award ceremony for stage four of the Tour of Beijing race, outside Changping Gymnasium October 12, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer/FILE

PARIS (Reuters) - International Cycling Union (UCI) president Pat McQuaid dismissed on Tuesday an agenda unveiled by his challenger for the post at this year's election, labelling it flawed and financially impractical.

Brian Cookson, who has been British Cycling Federation president since 1996, unveiled his key proposals on Monday including the establishment of a "physically and politically independent unit" to handle anti-doping.

The 62-year-old Briton has based his candidacy on restoring trust and credibility in the UCI that has struggled to cope with the consequences of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.

The American cyclist has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs.

"Brian Cookson's election manifesto is half-baked, fundamentally flawed and financially impractical," McQuaid, who will seek a third consecutive term at September's election, said in a statement.

"Just telling people what they want to hear is easy. He needs to explain how is he going to make it happen."

McQuaid, who has defended the UCI when criticised for not having caught Armstrong during his rider years, mocked Cookson's proposal of setting up an independent anti-doping unit, saying it was no more than a relocation.

"Brian Cookson's manifesto is proposing nothing new... because the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) Code simply does not permit the UCI, or indeed any other international federation, to create an independent anti-doping body," McQuaid said.

The WADA Code, signed off by the Swiss-based UCI, states that international federations have to set up and manage a thorough anti-doping programme.

"What Brian is proposing, when you examine the detail, is simply to relocate the existing Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation unit, which is as fully independent as the WADA code permits, outside of the UCI building in Aigle", McQuaid said.

"Brian must immediately explain why he is proposing to establish a new anti-doping unit when the CADF already exists," added McQuaid, who had to rely on a Swiss endorsement to seek a new term after his home country Ireland dropped their support.

With Cookson pleading for the development of cycling in the world and women's competition, McQuaid said the agenda was unrealistic because it has not been financially considered.

"He has prepared his manifesto as if money were no object. The money has to be found and he has given no indication from where it will come," said McQuaid.

(Reporting by Gregory Blachier; Editing by John Mehaffey)

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