Much has already been said about the relations between UEFA and Gazprom or the good relations between FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Vladimir Putin. How about cycling? There, too, there are smelly jars that have been covered for a long time. “Since David Lapartente was president of the UCI, sponsorship of Russia’s Makarov has increased fivefold,” David Naert told De Tribune.
The Kingmaker and his schemes in the UCI
Since the bombing of Ukraine, the world of sports has also been shaken to its foundations. Sponsorship contracts with Russian companies, the influence of Russian officials, and the participation of Russian (and Belarusian) athletes in almost all sports are under discussion.
In cycling, the UCI has suspended all professional cycling teams and the national teams of Russia and Belarus.
An obvious sign at first glance, but not that far-reaching for those who delve deeper into the cycling combo’s politics. That’s exactly what Sporza journalist David Naert did for the podcast The Di Tribune. He said it was broken.
In 2013, Pat McQuaid was voted out of the UCI and Brian Cookson became its president. Nobody expects that.
“David LaPartient, UCI President, Russia helped him. First in the UCI and for several years at the UCI, where he maintains contacts with suspicious people from Turkmenistan, among others.”
This man from Turkmenistan is Igor Makarov (pictured). His nickname in the cycling world reads: “Kingmaker”.
“It was Makarov who plotted against UCI President Pat McQuaid in 2013, disqualifying McQuaid and Brian Cookson becoming president. No one expected Cookson to succeed McQuaid at the time.”
“Makarov did it again with LaPartint, after which Makarov’s contribution to the UCI sponsorship increased fivefold.”
Relations with the Kremlin
You probably haven’t heard of Igor Makarov yet. However, it is a big name behind the scenes of international cycling.
Makarov was born in Turkmenistan and made his fortune from … oil and gas. His net worth is estimated to be around $2 billion. In addition to natural resources, Makarov also prefers cycling. In his younger years he himself was a member of the USSR national team.
He was president of the Russian Cycling Federation between 2010 and 2016, and remains an honorary president there, one of the founders of the Katyusha cycling team and to this day he is a member of the Governing Council of the International Cycling Union and the European Cycling Union.
“Makarov is an oligarch with a mysterious group of companies that allegedly has close ties to the Kremlin. Then you learn that this is actually with President Putin. He was born in Turkmenistan, but calls himself a Russian.”
Makarov arranged for the European Cycling Championships to be held in Minsk while there were protests against the dictatorial president.
“Makarov was the one who secured permission for Turkmenistan to organize the 2021 World Cycling Championships (which was eventually canceled due to the Corona pandemic and moved to Roubaix),” says David Naert.
“He also arranged for the European Cycling Championships to be held in Minsk while there were already massive street protests against the dictatorial president,” he added.
“The dictator of Turkmenistan was awarded, along with David LaPartint, an award from the UCI for that dictator’s deserving of cycling in Turkmenistan.”
“And the UCI still does not distance itself from Makarov.”
Listen to the full episode of De Tribune
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