Cookson says he is running for UCI president in order to restore the sport’s credibility
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Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Cookson says he is running for UCI president in order to restore the sport’s credibility

by Shane Stokes at 6:11 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
“For far too many people our sport is associated with doping, with decisions that are made behind closed doors and with ceaseless conflicts”

Brian CooksonConfirming yesterday’s media suggestions that he would run for presidency of the UCI, Brian Cookson has today announced his candidacy and explained the reasons why he has decided to oppose the current head of the UCI, Pat McQuaid.

“I am not doing this lightly as I know how much needs to be done,” he said in a statement issued today. “When I became the President of British Cycling in 1996, the Federation was deeply troubled and close to bankruptcy. Since that time cycling in my country has been transformed beyond recognition. Many wonderful people have helped this process, motivated by a passion to do the best for cycling, and I have been proud to lead them.

“This transformation has been achieved, above all, by creating a well run, stable federation governed on the principles of honesty, transparency and clear divisions of responsibility. These principles are even more important for an international federation.”

Cookson has long been part of the UCI, starting out as an international commissaire in 1986 and then taking up a place on the UCI’s management committee in 2009.

In addition to that, he has been president of British Cycling since 1996.

While he has consequently been part of the governance of the sport for many years, he has called for reforms, saying that the current system is not in a healthy state and that serious changes are needed.

“The passion I and many others have for cycling cannot hide the fact that our international body, the UCI, remains hugely distracted, continuing to flounder in waves of damaging historical controversies,” he wrote. “For far too many people our sport is associated with doping, with decisions that are made behind closed doors and with ceaseless conflicts with important members of the cycling family and other key stakeholders.

“This situation is deeply damaging for our sport, and it has severely compromised the UCI’s ability to develop and communicate some of the good work that is happening across the world.”

Cookson’s words will be welcomed by many who have faulted the UCI in these same areas, although more specific details of how he proposes to make such changes may have to wait until he publishes his manifesto later this month.

Speaking about some of the new measures which have been introduced, he said that the stakeholder consultation exercises conducted this year by the UCI show that some good work is underway, but he claims that these areas are nevertheless severely compromised by what he said is the ‘widespread absence of confidence in the integrity of the organisation.’

He said that because of this, he had taken the decision to run for presidency and to tackle some of the challenges facing the sport.

“We must restore cycling’s credibility. The first priority for the new UCI president must be to change the way that anti doping is managed so that people can have confidence in the sport,” he said. “We must also urgently carry out a fully independent investigation into the allegations of corruption in this area which have so damaged the UCI’s reputation.

"Cycling is not the only sport with problems but if we don’t have a sport that parents can send their children to with absolute confidence then we are failing. If elected I will devote myself to rebuilding relations with WADA and establishing with them a completely independent body to deal with anti-doping in cycling so that no-one can doubt that it is being tackled without fear or favour. I will also seek their full co-operation in the independent investigation into the UCI’s past.”

Cookson is currently on the board of Tour Racing Ltd, the owners of Team Sky, but would likely have to step down from that position. His statement speaks about the need to not protect vested interests, and so presumably would need to show that he is fully independent.

“The best way we can achieve this is to be much more open on how we operate and make decisions. In essence, my manifesto will outline how I would build trust in the UCI, and what our vision should be, for the future.”

He concluded by promising, if elected, to “turn my vision of a more open and modern UCI into reality.”

The UCI presidential elections will take place in Italy in September. McQuaid initially sought nomination from his home federation, Cycling Ireland, but when it said that it would put the matter to its member clubs to decide, he instead sought backing from the board of Swiss Cycling.


Brian Cookson’s full statement is as follows:

"I am today announcing that I am standing as a candidate for the Presidency of the UCI. I have the full support and nomination of my home federation, British Cycling, and I respectfully ask for the support of the national cycling federations of the world and the whole international cycling family.

"I am not doing this lightly as I know how much needs to be done. When I became the President of British Cycling in 1996, the Federation was deeply troubled and close to bankruptcy. Since that time cycling in my country has been transformed beyond recognition. Many wonderful people have helped this process, motivated by a passion to do the best for cycling, and I have been proud to lead them.

"This transformation has been achieved, above all, by creating a well run, stable federation governed on the principles of honesty, transparency and clear divisions of responsibility. These principles are even more important for an international federation.

"Cycling has been at the heart of my life for as long as I can remember. It has shaped my personality as much as it has my professional career, and I will always be grateful for the sheer enjoyment, inspiration and opportunity that cycling has given me. I still ride my bike almost daily.

"Many good things have happened in our sport around the world in recent years, and I am proud that British cyclists and British events such as London 2012 have played their part in showing what a superb sport we have in cycling, in all its diversity.

"But the passion I and many others have for cycling cannot hide the fact that our international body, the UCI, remains hugely distracted, continuing to flounder in waves of damaging historical controversies. For far too many people our sport is associated with doping, with decisions that are made behind closed doors and with ceaseless conflicts with important members of the cycling family and other key stakeholders. This situation is deeply damaging for our sport, and it has severely compromised the UCI’s ability to develop and communicate some of the good work that is happening across the world.

"The stakeholder consultation exercise held this year by the UCI has clearly demonstrated that there are many excellent aspects to the UCI, with much good work underway, but all of this has been severely compromised by the widespread absence of confidence in the integrity of the organisation.

"Against this backdrop, and after careful consideration, I have decided to stand for the Presidency of the UCI. This is because I passionately believe that the UCI needs to embrace a new way of doing things, and address, head on, some of the critical challenges facing our sport.

"We must restore cycling’s credibility. The first priority for the new UCI president must be to change the way that anti doping is managed so that people can have confidence in the sport. We must also urgently carry out a fully independent investigation into the allegations of corruption in this area which have so damaged the UCI’s reputation.

"Cycling is not the only sport with problems but if we don’t have a sport that parents can send their children to with absolute confidence then we are failing. If elected I will devote myself to rebuilding relations with WADA and establishing with them a completely independent body to deal with anti-doping in cycling so that no-one can doubt that it is being tackled without fear or favour. I will also seek their full co-operation in the independent investigation into the UCI’s past.

"In the next few weeks, I will publish my manifesto, which will outline clear recommendations to tackle the future challenges for our sport, as well as specific policies to address those problems from the past that still haunt us today.

"More broadly, I want to see a UCI whose culture and way of doing things is defined by openness, transparency, and a commitment to more collegiate decision making. We need to work for the good of cycling globally, and not protect vested interests, wherever they may lie. The best way we can achieve this is to be much more open on how we operate and make decisions. In essence, my manifesto will outline how I would build trust in the UCI, and what our vision should be, for the future.

"I believe that I have a strong and proven track record in delivering positive change in cycling, and in a way that is collegiate - not confrontational - as my time as President of British Cycling shows. It is this style of approach that I want to bring to the UCI.

"I would be truly honoured to be elected UCI President, but I also understand the magnitude of the challenges we face. If successful in my campaign, I will do all in my powers to turn my vision of a more open and modern UCI into reality, in full partnership with all the other stakeholders in the sport we love”.

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