Cycling

Former UCI president Hein Verbruggen dies

Hein Verbruggen (AFP)
Hein Verbruggen (AFP)

Lausanne - Hein Verbruggen, former president of the International Cycling Union (UCI) and one of the most prominent sports administrators of his time, has died.

He was 75.

The Dutchman, head of the UCI between 1991 and 2005, was heavily implicated in the doping scandals that rocked elite cycling when he ran the sport.

Most notable in that era was the case of American Lance Armstrong, who defeated cancer to go on and win seven straight Tour de France races from 1999 to 2005.

He was stripped of his titles in 2012 and banned from the sport for life. The fallen US cycling hero later admitted taking banned substances.

Verbruggen, also a member of the International Olympic Committee between 1996-2005 and again from 2006-2008, was accused by an independent commission in 2015 of attempting to shield Armstrong from investigation.

The Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC), set up following allegations of corruption at the heart of the UCI, said the body "exempted Armstrong from rules, failed to target test him despite the suspicions, and publicly supported him against allegations of doping, even as late as 2012".

The commission said "requesting and accepting donations from Lance Armstrong, given the suspicions, left UCI open to criticism".

Travis Tygart, the head of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), even called for the prosecution of Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid, UCI president from 2005-2013, over the alleged cover-up.

The independent commission later cleared Verbruggen of corruption, the Dutchman insisting that claims that he failed to do enough to combat doping were unfair.

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