Cookson states that if he becomes president, UCI won’t take legal action against those speaking out
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Friday, June 21, 2013

Cookson states that if he becomes president, UCI won’t take legal action against those speaking out

by Shane Stokes at 11:41 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
“The UCI will not use the courts to silence whistle-blowers, journalists or other dissenting voices”

Brian CooksonUCI Presidential election candidate Brian Cookson has said that if he becomes UCI President in September, that the governing body will be less litigious in his approach to those speaking out.

The Briton was replying to questions posed to him over Twitter yesterday by Paul Kimmage. Kimmage, who has been one of the most outspoken anti-doping journalists in the sport, was sued last year by current UCI president Pat McQuaid and former chief Hein Verbruggen.

While that case was suspended after USADA handed down its reasoned decision in relation to the Lance Armstrong case, it hasn’t been officially ended.

Kimmage’s questions were put to Cookson after the latter invited those who wanted answers on a range of topics to contact him via Twitter.

“There were three plaintiffs (PMCQ, HB and UCI) on the legal suit I was served,” he asked Cookson, referring to McQuaid and Verbruggen. “Were you party to this decision?”

There was no answer and Kimmage sent another two tweets as a follow up. “I'll try again...Were you party to the decision to sue Floyd Landis? Is suing whistleblowers in your manifesto?” he asked.

When that too went unanswered, he sent a third message. “As an example of openess and transparency would you mind answering my questions please?”

Cookson did not respond yesterday to these, but addressed the points in a blog entry today. “Paul is one of many journalists who deserve respect for the work they have put into exposing doping in cycling,” he said.

“Regrettably, I cannot answer his concerns directly because they involve legal actions which are still live. However, I commit now to answering them in full as soon as I am able.

“What I can say as a general point, is that the UCI has expended too much time, resource and money fighting battles which have distracted it from far bigger problems – in particular doping.”

While he didn’t address Kimmage’s situation directly, he gave a general answer which pledges to handle things differently than McQuaid and Verbruggen have in the past. In addition to suing Kimmage, they also took a defamation case against Floyd Landis when he said they were corrupt.

“I can also say that if I am elected in September, the UCI will not use the courts to silence whistle-blowers, journalists or other dissenting voices,” said Cookson. “This is not to say we would not seek to communicate our own point of view or correct inaccuracies or unbalanced comment when appropriate but I am a firm believer in freedom of debate as being good for the long-term health of any sport.”

He added that his manifesto would be launched next week in Paris.

At this point in time Cookson is the sole challenger to McQuaid, who is seeking his third term in office. The time limit for nominations will close in the coming days, and the UCI presidential elections will take place in September

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