Cookson takes over as UCI president after 24-18 victory in Florence
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Friday, September 27, 2013

Cookson takes over as UCI president after 24-18 victory in Florence

by Shane Stokes at 1:23 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
McQuaid going on a ‘long holiday’ before different involvement in cycling

Brian CooksonBrian Cookson is coming to terms with his position as the new president of the UCI, having won a hard fought and often bitter tussle with two-term UCI head Pat McQuaid.

The Briton appeared to take a gamble earlier today when he called for a straight vote between the candidates after nearly an hour of debating from delegates and federations as to whether McQuaid’s nomination was valid.

That looked to be heading for a vote to determine if the Irishman would even be able to stand but, perhaps worn out by the debates, Cookson intervened in the debate and said he wanted the vote to go ahead.

After the 42 delegates expressed their decision via a secret ballot, the result was read out: the verdict, by 24 votes to 18, was that Cookson would take over at the top.

Voice wavering, he welcomed the decision and said that he would deliver on his promises and help the governing body have a new beginning.

“It is a huge honour to be elected president of the UCI. I would like to thank you for all the trust you have placed in me,” he said in a short speech delivered moments after the result was announced. “The campaign to get to this point has been intense but I am under no illusions that the real work starts now.

“I call on the global cycling community to unite and come together to ensure that our great sport realises its enormous potential. This is the vision which will drive and focus my intentions over the next four years.

“I have said throughout my campaign that we must embrace a new style of governance and a collegiate way of working so that a new era of growth and commercial success of the UCI can begin.”

The news is a major development for the sport, which has suffered a succession of scandals in recent years and also at times seen tension between McQuaid plus the UCI and others. WADA, USADA, cycling teams and race promoters are some of those who have clashed with the governing body, and today’s news gives a chance for a clean slate.

McQuaid had previously said that Cookson was naïve to believe he could run cycling without ruffling a few feathers, and indeed today’s pre-election speeches showed a big difference between the two in terms of their presentation.

McQuaid was more forceful, pushing his achievements in his speech and saying that he deserved more time in the job. He - and it must be said, the UCI – appeared to do everything they could to ensure that he held on, with the governing body wheeling out two lawyers to vouch for McQuaid’s nomination by federations which were not of his home country.

He had previously had nominations rescinded by Cycling Ireland and Swiss Cycling and was claiming that his backing from the Moroccan and Thai federations complied with the wording of Article 51.1.

McQuaid appeared shell shocked to lose and his initial response to Cookson’s speech was as brief as it could have been.

“Thank you Brian and congratulations also to you,” he said, before moving immediately onto the next item on the agenda.

He later gave a longer response as he ended the Congress.

“Being elected as UCI president was the proudest moment of my life. Congress has spoken, and I accept their decision. I wish to express my gratitude and thanks. I have worked with all federations over the past eight years, to help change cycling.

“It was a huge privilege to serve the sport that I loved, and I enjoyed every minute over the past eight years.”

He said that he would encourage other federations to pull together and work for the good of the sport, adding that he would remain in cycling in some other capacity.

He then became a little emotional. “I close by saying [that] my wife finally has me back. She has me back as her husband, and my children have their father back.”

Cookson said that he was eager to get moving on reforming the sport. He gave the impression that he will knuckle down right away, and many will be keen to see if he does live up to his commitments.

“My first priority as president will be to make anti-doping proceedings in cycling fully independent, to sit together with key stakeholders in the sport and to work together with WADA to ensure a swift investigation into cycling’s doping culture,” he said.

“It is by doing these things that we will build a firm platform to restore the reputation of our international federation and sponsors, broadcasters, funding partners, host cities and the International Olympic Committee. Ultimately that is how we are going to grow our sport worldwide and get more riders and fans drawn into cycling.

“Finally, while there have been some difficult moments between myself and my opponent Pat McQuaid during this election contest, I would like to thank Pat very sincerely for the contribution he has made to cycling and the UCI during his long career. I wish him well in whatever he goes on to do.”

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