A sales and product manager in his early career, 72-year old Dutchman Hein Verbruggen was UCI President from 1991-2005, and a rather controversial one at that. Also an honorary member of that other International Boys’ Club, the International Olympic Committee, Verbruggen oversaw one of the most tumultuous eras in world cycling.
But what actually happened to him after Ireland’s Pat McQuaid took over in 2005?
Well, the first thing worth noting is that whilst he did indeed resign from the UCI Presidency, Verbruggen didn’t actually leave entirely in 2005. Rather he became Honorary UCI President, a position he still holds to this day.
In the last decade he’s spent a fair amount of time in the courts, via a series of UCI-funded defamation suits against such figures as Festina soigneur Willy Voet, disgraced doper Floyd Landis, ex-WADA President Dick Pound and Irish ex-pro rider and journalist Paul Kimmage. He’s also come under intense and sustained criticism from the only USA Tour de France ‘winner’ to stand the test and scrutiny of time, Greg Lemond.
Between 2004 and 2013 (when he stepped aside two years early citing his age: “I am a 71-year-old man now and I am getting old,” he told news sources at the time), Verbruggen also spent time as President of SportAccord – previously known as GAISF) – a union of international sports federations and organisers of international sporting events, today headquartered in Luassane, Switzerland.
A staunch ally of his successor, Pat McQuaid, it remains to be seen what if any role Verbruggen will play in the ‘new’ UCI, led by Britain’s Brian Cookson.