British Cycling president Brian Cookson has announced that he is running for the presidency of the UCI. The election will take place at the UCI annual congress at the world championships in Florence in September.
Cookson’s candidacy had been rumoured on Monday afternoon and he confirmed the news in a statement released on Tuesday morning. He has been nominated by his home federation, British Cycling.
“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,” Cookson said. “I am not doing this lightly as I know how much needs to be done.”
Cookson is set to run against the incumbent, Pat McQuaid, who has held the role since 2006 and is seeking a third term as president. McQuaid’s home federation, Cycling Ireland, called an Emergency General Meeting to debate his nomination and the Irishman has instead received the endorsement of the Swiss cycling federation.
President of British Cycling since 1996, Cookson was elected to the UCI Management Committee in 2009 and has been president of the UCI Road Commission since 2011. He pointed to the transformation of British cycling during his tenure as proof of his credentials for the UCI presidency.
“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,” Cookson said. “These principles are even more important for an international federation.”
Cookson suggested that his decision to run for president was sparked by the fall-out of USADA’s Reasoned Decision on the Lance Armstrong affair, which included a damning indictment of the UCI’s role during the American’s career.
“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,” Cookson said. “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.
“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.”
Although Cookson’s full manifesto has not yet been published, he said that his two priorities are cycling’s anti-doping measures and an investigation into the allegations of corruption at the UCI outlined in the USADA Reasoned Decision.
“We must restore cycling’s credibility,” Cookson said. “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.
“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.”