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Former UCI President Hein Verbruggen dies aged 75

Joseph Delves
14 Jun 2017

Verbruggen died in hospital at the age of 75 after suffering from leukemia

The former leader of the UCI and honourary member of the International Olympic Committee, Hein Verbruggen has died. Head of cycling’s governing body between 1991 to 2005, he was succeeded by his friend Pat McQuaid, and continued working for the UCI as an honourary president.

During his time at the union Verbruggen presided over a period of extraordinary growth for cycling.

Verbruggen studied business at university and after became a sales manager. Convincing the company he worked for to sponsor a pro cycling team was his route into the sport and he became a member of the Dutch Cycling Union. Work at the UCI followed along with a position on the International Olympic Committee.

His tenure at the head of the UCI coincided with the period associated with Lance Armstrong and EPO use, something which many felt the organisation either turned a blind eye to or was complicit in.

Famously litigious, Verbruggen bought various lawsuits against those he accused of libelling him or the UCI, including Festina soigneur Willy Voet and US Postal rider Floyd Landis, who was Armstrong's teammate.

He won both suits, along with one against journalist Paul Kimmage. A dispute with the World Anti-Doping Authority boss Dick Pound was settled out of court.

Although accused of accepting money in exchange for favours from the UCI on numerous occasions, nothing of substance was ever proved in court and Verbruggen vigorously defended both his and the UCI’s reputation, including into the final few months of his life.

The replacement of friend and long time associate McQuaid as head of the UCI in 2013 effectively sidelined Verbruggen. McQuiad’s successor Brian Cookson fought a robust campaign to replace the pair.

In statements both the UCI and the IOC expressed their sadness about his passing, adding, ‘Our thoughts are with his family and friends’.

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