The troubled links of David Lappartient, heavyweight in the governance of French sport

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By John

In the torpor of the Morbihan summer, the machine is impressive. At the start of the sunny afternoon of Saturday August 5, 2017, holidaymakers at the Port Sable d’Arzon campsite witnessed a funny sight. Amidst the catamarans and windsurfers, a brand new yacht, 85 meters long and three stories high, flies the flag of the Cayman Islands. The boat slows down then stops, to anchor a few hectometres from the coast of Brittany, in the small bay of Arzon.

This behemoth of the seas, which houses nine cabins, a heliport and even a spa, is called Areti, named after the oil and gas company of its owner, Russian-Turkmen billionaire Igor Makarov. A professional cyclist during the time of the Soviet Union, the oligarch was able to take advantage of the fall of the latter to build a large fortune, valued at 2 billion dollars (1.85 billion euros), mainly in the gas sector. , Turkmenistan and Russia.

Mr. Makarov, who is one of the forty richest people in Russia, is also a man who counts in the world of cycling. Alongside Vladimir Putin and the Russian gas giant Gazprom, he was notably behind the creation, in 2008, of Katusha, the first Russian team in the World Tour, which brings together the best formations in the world. He is also honorary president of the Russian cycling federation and member, since 2011, of the management committee of the International Cycling Union (UCI), the federation based in Aigle, Switzerland. In this strategic position, the oligarch has an influence that is measured by the millions of dollars in sponsorship that he has rained down on professional cycling for years.

Meteoric rise

This is no stranger to the incongruous stopover of Areti in the bay of Morbihan, in this summer of 2017. Igor Makarov is indeed coming to visit another eminence of cycling: David Lappartient, mayor since 2008 of the neighboring town of Sarzeau. Close to Nicolas Sarkozy, this pure politician, tireless worker driven by his ambition, achieved a meteoric rise in the cycling authorities. Elected president of the French Cycling Federation (FFC) in 2009, this former amateur rider has also been at the head of the European Cycling Union (UEC) since 2013. Next step: the election of the UCI president, who to be held a month and a half later, on September 21, 2017 – Igor Makarov is credited with the power to make and break kings there.

The temptation is strong to imagine that this election, which Mr. Lappartient will eventually win, will be played this Saturday, August 5, 2017 off Arzon. Local sources evoke return trips by helicopter, a drunken party on the yacht, and a discreet meeting of Mr. Lappartient with an occupant of the boat, in the neighboring town of Saint-Gildas-de-Rhuys. “I remember that David took this opportunity to go for a bike ride with the occupants of the boat, remembers Roland Tabart, mayor of Arzon and close to Mr. Lappartient. They worked on the boat and ashore. Presumably it had something to do with the upcoming election. »