Cycling Australia gives endorsement to Cookson, won’t support proposed change to Article 51
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Monday, August 26, 2013

Cycling Australia gives endorsement to Cookson, won’t support proposed change to Article 51

by Shane Stokes at 3:57 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
“Brian Cookson is the best candidate to restore both the sport’s, and the UCI’s, credibility”

Cycling Australia UCI presidential candidate Brian Cookson has secured an important endorsement in the battle to become the next head of cycling’s governing body, with Cycling Australia stating today that it has decided to support him over the incumbent chief Pat McQuaid.

The board of CA met Cookson on Saturday and weighed up the matter. After doing so, it said that it believe that the Briton was the best person to lead the sport forward.

“After meeting with Mr Cookson this weekend, where he detailed his vision to rebuild trust in the UCI and grow cycling worldwide, my board has carefully considered the options before it and decided that Brian Cookson is the best candidate to restore both the sport’s, and the UCI’s, credibility,” stated CA president Klaus Mueller.

“We are confident that he is genuinely committed to developing the sport worldwide and can deliver on his objectives to help grow the sport in Australia and Oceania. His commitment to introduce reforms to address the sport’s governance and anti-doping challenges were critical in our considerations.”

Cookson is the sole challenger to McQuaid, who has led the UCI for two terms but who faces questions over his, and the governing body’s, conduct during Lance Armstrong’s career.

While he has insisted that he is innocent of any improper behaviour, an independent audit of those actions which was announced by the UCI last autumn, involving an Independent Commission, was scrapped by the UCI in January.

While McQuaid committed then to a separate enquiry, nothing has happened since then and there are no plans to have any assessment before the UCI election on September 27th.

Cycling Australia have decided that a fresh start is needed. Looking at Cookson’s presidency of British Cycling, it feels that he is the better candidate. “We believe that the leadership skills that he has demonstrated so effectively at British Cycling will be transferred to the UCI for the good of cycling on a global level,” said Mueller.

“CA has enjoyed a very good relationship with Pat [McQuaid] over the years and we recognise the significant work he has done to help globalise the sport and address the doping culture that besieged professional men’s road cycling.”

“However, the inadequate response in dealing with the fallout from the Armstrong affair and subsequent allegations brought against the UCI has emphasised a need for leadership change to allow the sport to move on and realise its enormous potential.”

Oceania has a total of three out of the 42 votes; Australia has one, while New Zealand and Fiji hold the others. Directors and delegates from New Zealand and the Oceania Confederation were present at the CA board meeting on Saturday and these discussed the manifestos of both candidates.

They did so in person with Cookson, while McQuaid detailed his thoughts via teleconference.

Mueller told the Sydney Morning Herald that he believed that the other two countries in the Oceania confederation would also back Cookson.

“They can speak for themselves and they will, ultimately. But I am confident in the discussions we had that [CA's position] will be the unanimous position of Oceania.”

He also makes clear that the controversial proposed changes to Article 51 of the UCI regulations will not be supported by CA. They were proposed by the Malaysian federation and, if passed, would enable any two international federations to nominate presidential candidates. The Malaysians then modified the proposal at the request of the UCI, allowing the nomination to be backdated for the current presidential campaign.

This has led to claims from Cookson and others that the UCI are acting to help McQuaid, who has already lost the nominations of Cycling Ireland and Swiss Cycling, and who is now relying on the backing of the Moroccan and Thai federations.

The wording of Article 51 makes it likely that his interpretation of that rule will be challenged. While many see it as referring to a ‘home’ federation which much propose a candidate, McQuaid claims it can be any federation of which the candidate is a member.

He said in recent weeks that he is a member of ‘six or seven’ national federations.

“Even if those changes are legal it is entirely unsatisfactory in any democratic process,” said Mueller. “It lacks openness, transparency and integrity. CA will not be supporting this motion at the UCI General Congress.”

In order to be passed, the proposed change to Article 51 needs to be supported by two thirds of the 42 delegates at the UCI Congress.

On Saturday Mueller announced that he was standing down as CA president. He will however remain in the role until the end of September, after which a successor will be found.

He told the Sydney Morning Herald that his resignation was unconnected with the UCI presidency.

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