Cookson pledges to only accept UCI president’s role if he gains majority of delegate votes
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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Cookson pledges to only accept UCI president’s role if he gains majority of delegate votes

by Shane Stokes at 6:35 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Says commitment proves he’s not trying to sidestep an election through legal means

Brian CooksonAlthough questions remain about whether or not Pat McQuaid has a valid nomination under the current UCI Constitution, his opponent for the presidential election, Brian Cookson, has said that he will only take up the position if he has a majority of votes.

The unexpected pledge would mean that even if McQuaid is unable to run due to his nomination being successfully challenged, that Cookson would walk away from the role if he isn’t backed by at least 22 of the 42 available delegates.

The pledge was made at today’s European Cycling Union (UEC) held in Zurich, where Cookson and McQuaid are speaking before the European federations. The latter will then vote on who their delegates should back in the September 27th election.

“Pat McQuaid has continuously asserted that I do not want to face a democratic vote in Florence,” said Cookson, responding to claims that he was trying to use the legal process to win the election.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. I have total respect for the Constitution and democratic processes of the UCI, which I have followed to the letter at every step.

“At every turn throughout my campaign, I have fought for a democratic and transparent process to ensure that the rules are applied and that it is the voting delegates who will decide who should become the next UCI President,” he said.

“So I want to make the following pledge to you. Even if I were to be the sole candidate standing in Florence, I will only accept the Presidency if I receive a majority of delegate votes. I say this to you today and I have said it in writing to all National Federations. I say it because I believe in democracy and the rules of the game.”

The questions over McQuaid’s candidacy exist because he has sought, and lost, backing from Cycling Ireland and Swiss Cycling. Article 51.1 of the UCI Constitution states that presidency candidates must be nominated by ‘the federation of the candidate.’

This has commonly been interpreted as referring to a candidate’s home federation, but after McQuaid’s backing by Cycling Ireland and Swiss Cycling got into difficulty, he claimed that the rule simply refers to any federation of which the candidate is a member.

He is now drawing on nominations by the Moroccan and Thai federations that were only publically revealed at the end of August.

A number of other federations have proposed changes to the constitution which appear to try to help him secure nomination, including amendments to Article 51 which would mean the incumbent president would not need a nomination at all.

However these proposed changes would need a two thirds majority to be passed, a figure which now seems impossible to be reached.

The UEC federations today voted against all proposed changes to Article 51.1. As they represent precisely a third of the delegates, and as other delegates such as those from the US and Australia are expected to also reject the changes, it almost certainly spells an end to the proposals.

However the question still remains about McQuaid’s interpretation of Article 51.1 as it is. Earlier this month five federations requested the UCI to allow the Court of Arbitration to Sport to determine if that article could indeed allow federations other than the home federation to nominate candidates; the UCI rejected this request.

Those federations have suggested that a legal challenge could follow as a result.

However, while that all raises questions about whether or not McQuaid is entitled to run for president, today’s pledge by Cookson means that he will only accept the role if he is backed by the majority of delegates.

It’s a move which seems to reflect confidence or bravado on his part, but which will be also welcomed by McQuaid, who says he believes that he has majority backing. The UCI elections in twelve days’ time will show if Cookson’s gamble has paid off.

‘Let’s believe the future can be very different’

The British Cycling president also talked about his plans to change the sport if he were to be elected. He said today that he believes the UCI has suffered major challenges to its credibility, and that it is crucial that it gets a fresh start and begins to rebuild trust.

“For many outside this room our beautiful sport is associated with ugly things – doping, decisions made behind closed doors, manipulation of the rules and regular conflict. This has to stop,” he said. “The reason I'm running for President is I know I can restore our credibility. I represent a completely clean break from the past.

“If we turn the page, break from the past and restore the UCI's credibility, we will unlock the tremendous potential of this sport which we all love and have sacrificed so much for.”

He said that he wants the UCI to have a clearly defined role in developing the business of cycling and also to focus once again on its core mission of developing the sport. “We must make sure we have no conflicts of interest, and that we do business transparently and with integrity. The UCI’s resources should be used where the commercial market needs a catalyst for it to get momentum, serving teams, athletes and event organisers.

“Please, let's believe that the future can be very different - and so much better - than the past.”

Cookson concluded by insisting that he is the right person to lead the sport forward. “I am offering you a different style of leadership – a period of calmer waters, of building consensus, of listening to you, our National Federations, and of creating the conditions in which, together, we can push our sport forwards,” he said.

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