Video: Cookson and McQuaid speak to European Cycling Union federations, lay out arguments for their election
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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Video: Cookson and McQuaid speak to European Cycling Union federations, lay out arguments for their election

by Shane Stokes at 10:05 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
“For many outside this room, our beautiful sport is associated with ugly things. This has to stop”

Pat McQuaidAppearing at today’s European Cycling Union meeting where the UEC voted upon which candidate it will support in the upcoming UCI election, both Brian Cookson and the incumbent president Pat McQuaid both spoke at length on the reasons why they believe they should be voted into the position at the UCI elections on September 27th.

The speeches, which can be seen below, were made to the 41 delegates present, who ultimately voted by a majority of almost three to one in favour of Cookson, the challenger.

He emphasised his argument why the reset button needs to be pressed, saying that the credibility of the UCI had been badly affected by past events and that it was crucial that a fresh start was made for the sport.

“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,” he said. “This has to stop. The reason why I am running for president is I know I can restore the credibility of the UCI. I represent a completely clean break from the past.”

In his speech, Cookson outlined the four areas he said needed to take priority. He said the first was that anti-doping needs to be fully independent of the UCI.

“We have to be honest – the UCI isn’t trusted any longer with anti-doping and we need to get rid of this conflict of interest,” he explained. “Rumours and allegations continue to circulate and it is clear that people don’t believe that the UCI can on the one hand promote the sport and on the other hand deal properly with anti-doping.”

Cookson also said that it was crucial that the UCI stopped having conflicts with race organisers, anti-doping authorities, national federations and others. As an example of what he said was confrontational leadership, he pointed to the current campaign in the buildup to the September 27th vote.

“The conflicts around this election process have in particular been another chapter which have hurt cycling,” he said, referring to mudslinging and allegations. “I certainly had no idea that the election would degenerate in the way it has. So I hope we can quickly turn the page here and present a much more dignified public face to the world.”

Cookson referred to the scrapped Independent Commission, saying that over two and a quarter million Swiss francs were spent on that body, yet no meeting were held and the issue had still not been resolved. He said it was crucial that the UCI work with WADA and others to establish exactly what happened during the Lance Armstrong years, and then to move on from that.

“We must embrace transparency. The UCI is terrible at communication, internally and externally,” Cookson said, speaking about his third priority. “We see this in so many ways, such as the management committee being bypassed on important decisions.”

He also argued that proper corporate governance is needed, including a clear separation between the president and UCI management.

“One of the key dangers in leadership is falling into the trap of believing that your own personal interests are the same as those of the organisation that you are leading,” he warned, apparently referring to McQuaid.

Cookson’s commitments also included the development of women’s cycling, with the broadcasting of events on television being vital for success in this area. He said that if he is elected, the UCI will commit to produce and package a one hour highlights programme for the women’s World Cup, which will be given free of charge to broadcasters such as Eurosport.

He said that funding had been calculated for this and that it was ‘perfectly achievable,’ with the sums concerned being less than was given to Tour of Beijing organisers, the UCI’s spin-off company Global Cycling Promotions, in subsidies last year.

Cookson also said that the UCI Constitution and the election process both need to be reviewed. “This presidential election has been absolute chaos and a disgrace for cycling,” he asserted. “We need a dignified and transparent process of which we can be proud.”

He ended his speech by denying he sought to avoid an election, saying that even if he was the sole candidate, that he would only take up the position if he achieved votes from a majority of delegates.

McQuaid was more polished in his delivery, as might be expected from his eight years experience in the job, but also more lecturing in his tone to the delegates. He emphasised that he felt he had done a very good job, that the sport had the most sophisticated anti-doping system worldwide, but that he needed another four years to complete his work.

“These are the questions that exist for the millions of people who continue to embrace our sport worldwide. Our riders have been quick to answer that it is now possible to race and win clean,” he said. “That the culture in our sport has changed and that cycling is moving in the right direction.”

He also outlined four priorities, namely “to preserve the new culture and the era of clean cycling; to ensure equality of cycling through the development of women’s cycling; to modernise the way cycling is presented as a global sport and to foster the global development of cycling.”

In terms of anti-doping, McQuaid said that he remained committed to conducting an independent audit of the UCI’s actions during the Armstrong era, and also said that he will increase the independence of the UCI’s Cycling Anti Doping Foundation, through the appointment of an independent board. He also accepted that the UCI needs to do a much better job of communicating anti-doping information than it has been doing.

McQuaid laid out his opposition to so-called breakaway series. While he was quoted in the past as saying that he was interested in what was proposed, he now ruled it out, referring to the Champions League as the ‘death knell of cycling.” He added that he didn’t want to see long established races such as the Four Days of Dunkirk, Tour de Suisse, Tour de Romandie and others to lose their stature.

As regards the future of the sport, he also argued that the Olympics is vital for cycling, and that for that reason it is crucial that he remains in power.

“It is of vital importance that the UCI president is an IOC member. I would like you to fully understand the reality that cycling will lose this influential IOC position if I am not elected president,” he said. “I am not scaremongering – that is reality.”

His arguments were forcefully put, but to no avail; Cookson was ultimately voted in as the preferred candidate, receiving 27 votes to McQuaid’s ten, and thus receiving a considerable boost to his chances of winning the September 27th election.

The UEC has fourteen delegates out of the 42 who will decide the next UCI president. While the vote in twelve days time is done by secret ballot, if the mandate is followed Cookson should in theory receive all fourteen of those. If so, he has almost two thirds of the votes he needs to take over at the top.



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