One UCI official, two jets and three yachts

A good salary in a hard currency combined with tax perks make working at the UCI a financially rewarding role. But not everyone does it for the money. One member of  the UCI Management Committee who doesn’t need extra income is Igor Makarov.

Chairman of ITERA, the Russian gas trading company, some say Makarov is a billionaire but it’s hard to be precise with his net worth. He’s the former champion cyclist who started selling jeans on the streets of Turkmenistan and became a Russian oligarch and now helps run Russian cycling as well as the UCI. Needless to say he is wealthy and busy too. So whilst some UCI officials might get to travel in business or first class, Makarov goes private. The jet above is his.

The plane is registered in Aruba to ITERA Holdings so it is a corporate jet and strictly-speaking not Mr Makarov’s personal vehicle, although he is the company’s founder and chairman. But we can perhaps tie some of this jetset aviation to pro cycling.

Air power

That’s another aircraft registered to ITERA – the corporate logo is next to the door – and it’s taking off from Sion airport in Switzerland, just a few kilometres away from the UCI’s headquarters in Aigle. Note the registration, P4-IVM as in Igor Viktorovich Makarov. And the same plane flew into Copenhagen last September on the eve of the World Championships. Perhaps it was bringing Makarov for the UCI meetings and to watch the race or perhaps he kindly made the plane available for Russian riders?

The Areti, a 60 metre luxury yacht

Now let’s get nautical. Look at the fine yacht above, named Areti and delivered last year. It measures some 60 metres (200 feet), placing it amongst the top-50 superyachts of the world. She includes an elevator with access for all decks, a gymnasium, steam room and sauna, change rooms and apparently there’s even bicycle storage on board. A replacement perhaps for the two sister ships Areti I and Areti II, both from 2007 and built so one could sail in the Caribbean and the other could sail in European waters.

The yachts are owned by a young Russian industrialist who has chosen to build two identical yachts due to business interests that divide his time almost equally between Russia/Europe and the U.S.  This will give him constant access to his yachts in both regions to enjoy quiet family time and to entertain business associates

Who could this young Russian industrialist be? With business interests in Russia, Europe and the US? Well ITERA is headquarted in Jacksonville, Florida. And the name again, Areti? That’s ITERA spelt backwards.

The UCI's most powerful member. And Pat McQuaid.

Here is a very wealthy man with corporate travel arrangements to match his status as a leading Russian industrialist and generous cycle sport benefactor. Clearly Igor Makarov is a sports official with a difference.

25 thoughts on “One UCI official, two jets and three yachts”

  1. Ryan Z: I suppose to illustrate that we have a new official who has just joined the UCI’s top table and he is quite unlike all the others when it comes to wealth and influence.

    Matt Rendell: maybe we’ll see later this year when the UCI Presidency is up for grabs?

    Duncan: true, I suspect the interior is well-appointed too.

  2. Mind-boggling. Makarov is like a single man nation, owner of airliners and superyachts. Pat looks like a speck on the windscreen in front of Igor and if the Russian decides to challenge him, McQuaid’s days will be numbered.

  3. Interesting stuff, thanks. Makes me think if pro cycling was as lucrative as McQuaid and Co. are making it out to be in their sales pitch, it would seem a guy like the one above or some media magnate like Murdoch or Berlusconi could, on their own, pony up enough euros for PatCo to create races all over the place and maybe even force Le Tour de France into some sort of bargain. But so far, nothing. I suspect with some of these oligarchs pro cycling might be more about money-laundering while indulging their passions as much as anything. Only FIFA can match these guys in conflict-of-interest, corruption, etc. Can a “white knight” take over and rescue the sport from these crooks? Paul Kimmage for UCI president!

  4. TC: yes, there is a conflict of interest there and we’ll see how it’s addressed in the future.

    Larry T: steady, or you might get a knock on the door from some unpleasant people.

    Karl: good question. I can see why he wants to sponsor the Katusha team and enjoy the thrill of running a major team but spending time in official meetings is different. Perhaps we’ll see later this year when there is an election for a President of the UCI, perhaps to replace Mr McQuaid.

  5. It seems to me that for a Russian billionaire oligarch, there are only two possible motivations for personally sitting on the UCI board.

    1) he feels that the title confers him respectability and contacts overseas. In which case, why the hell would you pick a sport with such a shady image?

    2) as a former professional cyclist with the means to help the sport, maybe he genuinely wants to do good things for it. Now, of course, his idea of “good things” may not quite match our own, but it’s possible.

    To give an example of the second scenario in action, billionaire shopping center developer Frank Lowy has been the president of Football (Soccer) Federation Australia for the past few years. He hasn’t pleased everyone with his decisions, but I think there’s general agreement that he took on the role because he genuinely wants to help Australian soccer.

  6. And remember old hein became a friend with manolo saiz because dear manolo was friends with an spanish billionaire owning private jet. Ah, dear uci fellows love flying high and free

  7. Well, we ARE living in Sicily at present so I guess a “Hot-Air Hit Man” could easily be sent to our apartment. If they’ll sue Kimmage for a measly euro 8K, who knows what else they might do? The strangest part of all this is that they bring the criticism upon themselves with their so often amazingly uninformed comments.

  8. Excellent reportage as ever. Nothing gets past you, even down to what plane landed where, when and what the pilot had for breakfast! I mean, how the hell do you find all of this stuff out? (rhetorical question, don’t worry!)

    That first photo is incredible. I was convinced it was a hoax, so I googled Princess Juliana Airport in St Maarten. Plenty of crazy photos of 747s coming in. Apparently that beach is popular with sunbathing planespotters…

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  10. Superb research as always – and corrections made within hours. Great comments too. As for personal motivation, I guess the link to a role within the IOC could be worth something to someone who can buy anything. Hein Verbruggen neatly stepped out of the UCI into the IOC, one wonders whether Makarov has an eye on a similar route. Or perhaps his motives are less selfish – maybe here is someone who wants to promote cycling in their home country. I have an open mind about him.

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