“It is indeed rather comical to see how Mr Cookson does literally everything possible to not meet me face to face at any occasion where we are both present. I'm afraid I have to conclude that straightforward and courageous confrontation is not his best quality.” - Hein Verbruggen.
In an open letter to the UCI’s management committee published in Belgian publication De Morgen, Verbruggen said he would fight any attempt by Cookson to remove him as the honorary president of the UCI and criticised the March report which highlighted his relationship Lance Armstrong.
“Mr.Cookson is in for a surprise if he thinks that I will accept this scandalously biased CIRC-report and the same goes for taking away my honorary title,” wrote Verbruggen, who also said that he had placed the report in the hands of his lawyers.
“I therefore declare here and now that I will consider the withdrawal of my title to be a 'sanction' and I will not accept being sanctioned, especially not by such a person as Mr. Cookson.
“Be aware that the UCI should be prepared to face legal action against any sanction imposed on me based on either Mr. Cookson declaring me a "dictator", or on the clearly biased CIRC report.”
In response, Cookson said that he would not be drawn into a public confrontation with Verbruggen, saying “I was elected to change the way the UCI conducts itself and I won’t be drawn into this kind of public conflict.
"I think it is very sad that he sees it this way," Cookson said. "The report is not all about him.
“I think Mr. Verbruggen’s letter speaks for itself. Those who have read the CIRC report will understand where the UCI went wrong in the past, including the conflicts it needlessly got into and which seriously damaged its credibility.”