It is twelve months since Brian Cookson – at the end of a hotly contested election – became president of the UCI. As part of the election process the 63-year-old produced a manifesto detailing the changes he intended to oversee if elected president. That manifesto contained a series of commitments from Cookson, changes he promised to bring about if elected president of the UCI. Just how well has Cookson performed in the past 12 months when it comes to keeping his word?
The key manifesto pledges made by Cookson were:
1) Embrace openness and transparency;
2) Revolutionise our approach to anti-doping;
3) Grow cycling worldwide;
4) Develop women's cycling;
5) Embrace the future together; and
6) Overhaul the structure of elite road cycling.
The short-form analysis of progress on these pledges would have to be that a lot has been done, but there is a lot still to do. Obvious progress has been made in some areas, such as the creation of the CIRC. In other areas there has been no progress, particularly with regard to the promised minimum wage for the women's peloton. And in some areas it could be argued that the UCI has taken retrograde steps, here particularly with regard to transparency and the UCI's recent decision to no longer publicly announce doping sanctions.
Pledge 1: Revolutionise our approach to anti-doping
Commitment: To draw an end to the public war of words with the likes of WADA, USADA and the AFLD
Delivery: Generally relations between the UCI and WADA – and its subsidiary NADOs – seem to be trouble free at the moment, although nothing has taken place in the past 12 months to really test them. WADA seems to be on board with the CIRC and the AFLD seemed content with the manner in which testing was conducted at this year's Tour de France.
On the horizon, though, are a couple of potential storms, one major, one minor. The minor involves the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) and the Daryl Impey case, with the UCI not yet having indicated whether they intend to appeal the SAIDS decision to the CAS. The major is the more serious case of Roman Kreuziger's Athlete Biological Passport case, with the Czech Olympic Committee (COC) having cleared their rider of any anti-doping violations, raising questions about the efficacy of the ABP.
That Kreuziger case – along with the more recent Diego Ulissi case – also showed up weaknesses in the way in which the UCI handles suspensions of riders who are facing doping cases, with both Tinkoff-Saxo and Lampre effectively having to call the UCI's bluff in order to obtain clarity as to the official status of their riders.
Commitment: Make the UCI's anti-doping unit – the CADF – independent of the UCI.
Delivery: The CADF today is still independent in name only.
Commitment: Harsher penalties for those who dope, and pursue with vigour those who enable doping.
Delivery: The WADA Code has already changed to allow lengthier bans, and there is a new focus on the entourage that surrounds athletes.
Pledge 2: Embrace openness and transparency
Commitment: Full disclosure of financial interests, remuneration package and any potential conflicts of interest.
Delivery: Cookson has disclosed his remuneration package (340,000 Swiss francs, or approximately €282,000 per annum) and conflicts of interest (none).
Commitment: Introduce some form of Truth and Reconciliation process, particularly with regard to accusations of UCI complicity in doping in the past.
Delivery: The Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) was established in January. Little is known about the commission's operations. Lance Armstrong has publicly disclosed that he has met with the CIRC, La Gazzetta dello Sport claimed that Mauro Santambrogio spoke with the commission, and the CIRC has already been involved in the sanctioning of Francesco Reda. At present, the CIRC report is still promised before the year end.
Commitment: Allow the Management Committee to operate more like a Board of Directors.
Delivery: The UCI's management committee operates behind closed doors – unlike, say, WADA, the UCI does not publish minutes of Management Committee meetings – and there is no information available on how Cookson has performed on this promise.
Commitment: Representation on the Management Committee for the UCI Athletes Commission and Professional Cyclists' Association, as well as the appointment of a Rider Relationship Manager.
Delivery: Unclear what, if any, progress has been made with regard of this.
Commitment: Regular consultation with stakeholders.
Delivery: While the UCI seems to have been listening to key stakeholders such as teams, race organisers, manufacturers and media, there have been visible attempt to consult with fans.
In general on the transparency issue, a number of retrograde steps seem to have been taken, making the UCI less transparent than it was a year ago. These range from the manner in which Pieter Zevenbergen stepped down from the the ethics commission through to the manner in which the doping sanctions are now not being announced. Specifically on the issue of financial transparency, Cookson – writing on his personal website before the election – queried why the UCI's annual report was not published within six months of the year end (ie by June) instead of nine (September). While the 2013 annual report was briefly (accidentally) uploaded to the UCI website in July, it has still not officially been made available.
Pledge 3: Grow cycling worldwide
Commitment: Creation of an International Development Department
Delivery: A new International Development and National Federations' Commission was created.
Commitment: Increase the budget of the World Cycling Centre.
Commitment: Create structures and incentives for a series of development initiatives between federations.
Commitment: More World Cycling Satellite Centres.
Commitment: Regain the UCI's status within the Olympic Movement and review Olympic and Paralympic qualification criteria to ensure the best athletes from around the world are represented.
Commitment: More international events for Para-cyclists.
Delivery: All Unclear
Commitment: More cyclists and more cycling events at future Olympiads.
Delivery: Cookson has called for the expansion of the Winter Olympics to include cyclo-cross and downhill mountain biking. Delivery on these issues is very much in the hands of the IOC head, Thomas Bach.
Commitment: Make significant savings in legal costs which can then be directed toward international development.
Delivery: Unclear, and unlikely to be clear until the publication of the 2014 financial report in the second half of 2015
Pledge 4: Develop women's cycling
Commitment: Prioritise the creation of new opportunities for women's cycling in all disciplines, particularly the professional road scene.
Commitment: Establish a women's commission supported by a full time staff position dedicated to the development of women's cycling across all disciplines.
Delivery: A new Women's Commission has been created.
Commitment: Work with organisers, teams and broadcasters to create new televised events.
Delivery: From La Course by Le Tour de France through to the Friends Life Women's Tour women's cycling did receive some new events, although these were offset by the loss of older events from the calendar. How much credit the UCI can claim for the creation of these events is debatable, particularly in regard to La Course, which was the product of the campaign group Le Tour Entier (of which Cookson was initially somewhat critical). While both La Course and the Friends Life race were covered by broadcast media, even in the case of La Course this was generally done as a highlights package, many broadcasters opting not to broadcast the race live.
Commitment: A minimum wage for women.
Delivery: It is one of the ironies of cycling today that, while the elite men are currently considering imposing a ceiling on rider's pay, in the women's peloton there isn't even a floor, with no visible progress having been made in the delivery of the promised minimum wage. Given that prior to standing for election Cookson personally opposed the idea of a minimum wage for women this is, perhaps, not surprising. Worse than having no minimum wage, though, the UCI has recently been accused of not even supporting the efforts of riders to be paid what little has been promised to them, with accusations of non-payment of riders' salaries by one team apparently being ignored by the UCI.
Commitment: Ensure that there is at least one UCI Commission presided over by a woman and that every other commission shall have at least one female member
Delivery: Out of 19 commissions, two have female presidents: the Advocacy Commission and the Women's Commission (both headed by Tracey Gaudry). With the exception of the Licence Commission, all the other commissions have at least one female member.
Pledge 5: Overhaul the structure of elite road cycling
Commitment: A simpler and more cohesive events calendar.
Delivery: This has been an ongoing project within the UCI and and some proposals – smaller teams, shorter races – were made public by the UCI in one of their occasional newsletters.
Commitment: Refocus Global Cycling Promotion (GCP)
Delivery: With the demise of the Tour of Beijing and GCP's only other race, the Tour of Hangzhou, apparently permanently on hold it is unclear what the future holds for GCP, which during the 2013 financial year made a profit of 77,000 Swiss francs, but only after billing the UCI 85,000 Swiss francs in fees.
Pledge 6: Embrace the future together
Commitment: Be a listening president.
Delivery: Cookson has clearly demonstrated an ability to listen, such as in the manner in which he intervened in the Bogotá Humana brouhaha with a Tweet declaring the team's kit to be "unacceptable by any standard of decency."
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