In his annual address in front of the UCI Congress, president Brian Cookson reflected on his two years in tenure and laid out his strategy for the sport going forward. He announced a few new initiatives, including the addition of a CAS arbitrator to the Ethics Commission, which will be drafting a new UCI Code of Ethics for next year. Cookson also named four new cycling federations in the UCI - Iceland, Kosovo, Mauritania and Vanuatu.
"The last two years have not been easy. In bringing our sport back from a very difficult era, we have faced many challenges," Cookson said in his speech. "But when I reflect on all that we have achieved together, I can say with confidence that we have made a strong start on the process of renewal – our sport is growing, is healthy and we have real cause for optimism."
Cookson thanked several Americans for their contributions to cycling in the World Championship's host country. "I'd like to pay a special tribute to outgoing President of USA Cycling Steve Johnson for all the work he has done over many years to develop the sport here. And while we will miss Steve, I congratulate Derek Bouchard Hall for taking over at the helm of USA Cycling and I look forward to working with him.
"I'd also like to pay a special tribute to my UCI Management Committee colleague Mike Plant for his significant input and support – Mike, you are a great advocate for Cycling and your tireless work is greatly appreciated. There are very many people and organisations who have played a crucial role in the hosting of both this Congress and the UCI Road World Championships."
CAS arbitrator Bernard Foucher, a former administrative tribunal judge and former advisor to the French Government – will join Richard Leggat (President), John Tolkamp and Marcel Wintels on the Ethics Commission.
"The Commission views its independence as extremely important and is seeking two further independent members. Along with two new members, the main task for the Commission is to redraft the UCI Code of Ethics," Leggat said. "The current Code has been found to be lacking in a number of areas including its jurisdiction and application. We plan to present a new Code to Congress next year. The Commission would also like to state that it is pleased with the progress made by the UCI Management Committee on matters raised 12 months ago, especially regarding improved transparency and regulation".
Norwegian Harald Tiedemann Hansen filled the vacant position left by the passing of Peder Pedersen.
184th UCI Congress – September 25, 2015 – Richmond, USA Address by UCI President, Brian Cookson
Vice Presidents, National Federation Presidents and delegates, it is a real honour for me to be here in Richmond, Virginia for the 2015 UCI Congress and, of course, the UCI Road World Championships.
This city has opened its arms to over 1,000 of your athletes from 75 nations and the passion we have seen so far for our great sport has been incredible.
It has been inspiring to see thousands of fans line the streets of Richmond to watch the action and it shows that Cycling is back with a bang in the United States.
We have seen some great performances over the past few days, all of the time-trial races have crowned some actual and future great champions and I'm convinced that these Championships will prove to be a key moment for the sport's growing profile world-wide.
I'd like to pay a special tribute to outgoing President of USA Cycling Steve Johnson for all the work he has done over many years to develop the sport here.
And while we will miss Steve, I congratulate Derek Bouchard Hall for taking over at the helm of USA Cycling and I look forward to working with him.
I'd also like to pay a special tribute to my UCI Management Committee colleague Mike Plant for his significant input and support – Mike, you are a great advocate for Cycling and your tireless work is greatly appreciated.
There are very many people and organisations who have played a crucial role in the hosting of both this Congress and the UCI Road World Championships.
In particular I'd like to thank Terry McAuliffe, Governor of Virginia and Dwight Clinton Jones, Mayor of Richmond, for their support in bringing together key local stakeholders in order to host these great Championships.
Over the next 20 minutes, I will update you on the significant progress we are making at the UCI to modernise, rebuild trust and grow the sport across the world.
We are doing this by working in close partnership with every single National Federation and our growing family of stakeholders.
I would like to place on record my genuine thanks to every single one of you in this room who has supported me in my first two years in office to help the UCI get better at what it does, become more professional and trusted.
Having visited almost 40 countries since I became President, I have seen some of the incredible work that you do on the ground to grow and develop our sport. On behalf of the UCI, I'd like to place on record my thanks to you.
The last two years have not been easy. In bringing our sport back from a very difficult era, we have faced many challenges.
But when I reflect on all that we have achieved together, I can say with confidence that we have made a strong start on the process of renewal – our sport is growing, is healthy and we have real cause for optimism.
My speech this morning will focus not just on all that has been achieved, but also on what else needs to be done to continue cycling's growth in the next two years of my Presidency and beyond.
But before I continue, let's remind ourselves of some of the amazing highlights in Cycling over the last two years.
That film is also a wonderful reminder of why we all give so much of our time to this great sport. It's because we share a passion for Cycling that we are here in this room, and we should never lose sight of that.
During 2015 we have seen an enormous number of events of all disciplines on our international and continental calendars.
I want to thank all of the organisers and National Federations who have made these events possible.
In fact, over 120 UCI major events, World Cups and World Championships will have taken place in 28 countries this year.
- The Cyclo-cross World Championships in the Czech Republic
- The Track Cycling World Championships in France
- BMX World Championships in Belgium
- The Indoor Cycling World Championships which will take place in Malaysia
- A very first Para-cycling World Cup round in Africa
- And of course the Road World Championships here in the United States – the first of its kind in the US for almost 30 years
Away from competition, we are also witnessing an incredible explosion in Cycling's popularity as it becomes the preferred way to get to work or exercise. We don't forget that Cycling is not just a competitive sport. It is also an enjoyable, healthy pastime and an environmentally friendly way to get about. Governments across the globe are now grasping the huge public health benefits from integrating Cycling into their transport plans. More than 700 cities in 50 countries now have bike-share schemes. That number has grown by about half in the last three years.
From Guangzhou to Paris to Los Angeles, cities are shifting their attention from keeping cars moving to making it easier for the public to cycle. Major towns are beginning to close some of their roads to cars at weekends with Paris leading the way in Europe. Here in North America, Canadian cities such as Montreal and Calgary are putting bikes centres stage in their transport planning; and here in Richmond they have big ambitions for cycling.
The cycle market here in the US is worth over $3 billion per year. Bike sales now outstrip car sales in nearly all European Union countries. 65% of Chinese households own a bicycle – and as a country with a population of 1.4 billion, that is a lot of bikes.
All this puts cycling in a wonderful, unique position. We are a sport that is becoming increasingly embedded in everyday life – right across the globe. It is against this backdrop that we face dazzling global potential to grow in the years ahead.
It is my job, as President of the UCI, to ensure Cycling makes the most of the incredible opportunities that lie ahead, that we guide and nurture this growth. It is why, for example, we are making sure that provision for everyday cycling is included in the bidding criteria for UCI major events.
Here in Richmond we have seen 32 kilometres of new bike lanes built in the run up to the Championships, and the city has a long term vision to ensure one in ten trips is by bike before 2025. This is certainly the ambitious approach we want to see from our major event hosts.
And talking of growth, I'm delighted that you will be asked in a few minutes to welcome four new National Federations to our family. Iceland, Kosovo, Mauritania, and Vanuatu will take our membership to 185 – the highest in UCI history.
I was elected exactly two years ago with a mandate to restore trust and credibility in our sport and the UCI. Since being elected, we have made significant progress in doing exactly this. One of the very first things I did after taking office was to re-establish excellent high level relations with WADA. The UCI was in constant conflict with the very organisation that we should have been working closely with. I ended that conflict.
In terms of our efforts to restore our reputation and protect clean athletes, everything else has flowed from this. We now have fully independent anti-doping procedures. We have more open and transparent relationships in place with National Anti-Doping Organisations and a more intelligent testing strategy. This means, together, we are in a much better place to catch the cheats who blight our sport.
And, under my leadership - with your support - the UCI opened itself up to an unprecedented level of independent scrutiny from the Cycling Independent Reform Commission. Some of the report made uncomfortable reading for us. But we had to acknowledge that lessons needed to be learned. In those famous words: "Those who ignore the mistakes of history are condemned to repeat them".
This was a brave thing to do and the Cycling family should take real credit for playing its part in cooperating with the CIRC.
The CIRC report looked in detail at the past, but much more importantly, it made recommendations for the future and we are now busy implementing those recommendations including:
- The establishment of a storage and re-testing strategy
- Working with WADA and other experts to analyse new substances and trends
- And implementing appropriate night time testing
In short, we are ensuring an intelligence-led approach that will increase the effectiveness of the testing programme.
And we have made many other changes including establishing an Anti-Doping Tribunal to handle the cases of international riders which this Congress called for back in 2007. These changes are being made because it is the right thing to do.
They are also starting to bring wider benefits to our sport. As I have said before, this is not just a matter of morality and ethics, it is also a matter of cold economics.
Successful sports require substantial investment from institutional funders, sponsors and broadcasters. Often those investment decisions – whether by private or public bodies – are informed by the amount of television coverage generated.
So, for example, it is great news and no coincidence that German broadcaster ARD is now live broadcasting the Tour de France after a three year absence – this development reflects the growing confidence in our sport's reputation.
And for the same reason it's good for our sport that Universal Sports Network were delighted to extend their broadcasting deal for UCI events here in the US until 2018.
So building trust in our sport is not just about morality, it's about boosting our commercial success, broadcast exposure and reaching new fans. My commitment to restoring credibility goes further than anti-doping. My remuneration and potential conflicts of interest are openly published. The interests of all Management Committee members are also published on the UCI web site. There is now a clear separation between UCI governance and management.
The democratic channels we now have in place with all our stakeholders are much more open, to ensure we listen to the Confederations and you – the National Federations. All major UCI Commissions are chaired by a Management Committee member, and their membership now has a much broader global makeup. And I have re-launched the Athletes Commission to ensure the voice of our riders is heard loud and clear.
These are all important changes to ensure the UCI is professional, transparent and the best it can be.
When I was elected President, my vision for the UCI and our sport was not restricted simply to restoring trust and credibility – although of course these are critical elements if we are to grow and prosper.
Building our sport globally, developing women's cycling, reforming elite road cycling and strengthening our sport in the Olympic Movement were also key promises I made to you.
And we have made good progress in each of these areas. Let me take each in turn, starting with what we are doing to drive global growth in Cycling.
We have increased investment in the UCI World Cycling Centre and this year Jeanne d'Arc Girubuntu from Rwanda was the 1000th trainee to pass through the centre's doors since it opened in 2002.
Guided by our professional road, track and BMX coaches, we help our trainees achieve their goals.
These include Stefany Hernandez from Venezuela who became BMX World Champion a few weeks ago, Daniel Teklehhaimanot who was the first black African rider to wear the polka dot jersey in this year's Tour de France and Chris Froome, double Tour de France winner, who came through our doors as a Kenyan in 2007.
And there are 15 young athletes who trained at the UCI's World Cycling Centre that are now taking part in these 2015 UCI Road World Championships.
At the end of 2014, the WCC hosted the first ever European Training Camp that saw 15 cyclists and six coaches from nine emerging nations improve their track performance.
Away from Aigle, the WCC worked with COPACI and the Argentine National Cycling Federation to create a four week training clinic in Argentina for 34 athletes and 20 coaches from 14 central and South American nations.
We also have our WCC satellite centres in Japan and Korea, and are advancing plans to open satellites in India and Egypt to serve their wider regions.
And the WCC is not just about able bodied riders - this year it organised the very first para-cycling training camp for nine riders. So the WCC will continue to be a key priority as we help train riders from across the world and look to develop other centres. We have also created a UCI International Development Department which works with and supports the National Federations.
We are actively sharing best practice and knowledge with you through the UCI Sharing Platforms – more than 100 delegates from almost 70 Federations attended these in 2015, with the next taking place in Japan and Australia in January, then Venezuela in May.
We are actively reviewing the feedback we received from the National Federation survey to ensure the Sharing Platforms continue to develop in a way that delivers exactly what you need. A key ingredient of global growth is a willingness to embrace innovation to attract new audiences and fans to our sport.
Innovations such as onboard cameras, re-launching the UCI Hour Record and new investment in UCI digital and social media are absolutely key to delivering this ambition.
We re-launched our website just a year ago and it is now attracting around 50% more traffic. We have also embraced social media and now reach a cumulative audience of 1 million followers across all our platforms.
I'm delighted also that Abu Dhabi will be hosting the first ever UCI Cycling Gala where our family will come together to celebrate the standout performances from the 2015 UCI WorldTour and UCI Women Road World Cup. This is another step towards creating a compelling narrative that gives fans, broadcasters and our stakeholders an exciting summary of the Cycling year.
In terms of women's Cycling, as you know, Tracey Gaudry was elected by the Management Committee as the UCI's first women Vice President. Last year we created a Women's Cycling Commission which is now well into its stride and producing real progress. There is now at least one woman on every UCI Commission, and I am pleased to report that they are providing invaluable contributions to the work of those Commissions. We have invested for the first time to create new events and broadcast coverage for women riders. And we are working towards the introduction of modern employment standards for women pro riders.
In Men's Elite Road Cycling, a huge amount of work has taken place in a spirit of openness and collaboration over the past two years to create a better structure for the future.
We have had really productive input from all our key stakeholders. They want to move forward in a way that reflects both the unique heritage of this branch of our sport, while also embracing creativity, innovation and new opportunities to grow.
I believe that the proposals accepted this week by the UCI Management Committee will provide the best possible foundation for the future development of this flagship discipline of our sport. At the heart of the reform is restoring credibility.
Therefore, a new operational way of working is being introduced for professional cycling teams - the Cahier des Charges - to make sure team structures are fully developed to help the fight against doping.
This follows the introduction of strict organizational standards for event organisers to build on the considerable investment made by them in assuring the highest quality of event.
These will also assist in addressing issues of safety and security such as extreme weather conditions, railway crossings, race vehicles and so on.
We believe there is a great opportunity to grow the UCI WorldTour with a number of new events, and create an environment where new sponsors and teams are brought into the sport. All this means that solid foundations are being laid for a new, exciting era in men's elite road cycling.
Protecting and enhancing Cycling's place in the Olympic Games was another key pledge I made to you and it will remain a priority for as long as I am President.
2016 promises to be a breakout year for our sport as we look towards the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games. And I'm delighted that Rio 2016 Executive Director Agberto Guimaraes will provide Congress with an update on preparations shortly.
Without stealing Agberto's thunder, what I can say is that we have an incredible road race route in Rio. It will provide a fantastic experience for riders and an incredible backdrop for the billions who will watch on TV and online. We will see the highest ever number of riders from Africa compete in the Road Race at Rio. We will see three more nations compete in BMX and more of the world's very best riders compete in Sprint and Keirin at Rio.
And we are leading the way with the International Olympic Committee in introducing new, innovative events to the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires – such as BMX Freestyle and a city mountain bike course.
In fact Cycling is one of the very few sports to have been awarded an extra medal at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games. Our Director General will provide a comprehensive update on all of these reforms and developments in his presentation shortly. So we have made huge progress over the past two years.
But of course, it's important to remember that I am only half way through the four year mandate that you granted me. And I am confident that, at the end of those four years, with your support, even greater advances and progress will have been delivered.
So what do I want us to achieve together over the next two years?
They are things that are important to me and, I believe, are important to you too.
I will continue to push women's cycling forward with the creation of the UCI Women's WorldTour. It will start in March 2016 with 35 days of historic racing and the addition of stage-races for the first time in a women's cycling series.
I want to ensure that we support the hosts of our major events in order to drive cycling even more into the mainstream – and this is why we have re-launched the UCI Bike City label.
We want to build long-term relationships with cities and regions to help them transform into cycle friendly environments, to help drive policy change and cycling investment at the local level.
This is a major area that, if we get right, will have a profound impact on major event legacy, getting many more people on their bikes around the world.
We have just unveiled a new strategy for the bidding of the UCI's major events that is both more professional in its approach, and also works much more closely with National Federations.
This partnership approach will become increasingly important as we continue to take our major events to both established and emerging cycling nations, and drive a legacy of participation.
So events such as the UCI Road World Championships in Qatar and the BMX World Championships in Colombia next year have a great opportunity to set the bar – not just in terms of elite organisation, but also in terms of taking Cycling to the masses.
Next year's world's in Doha are being promoted as a wider programme to increase physical activity, while the 2017 Championship in Bergen is already rolling out child cycle training and bike infrastructure.
I also want to keep on embracing change and innovation so we can continue to attract many more fans to our great sport.
For example, this means integrating BMX Freestyle into the UCI calendar and creating the UCI Urban Cycling World Championships starting in 2017 – following a test event next June in Lausanne, the home of the Olympic movement.
As we move towards ever improving governance, the UCI Management Committee and I intend, in due course, to bring to Congress proposals for a more modernised constitution and new Ethics Code.
Crucially, at the heart of my next two years at President, I want to do everything possible to support you – the National Federations. Because it is you and your efforts on the ground that drives Cycling globally.
On this critical point, and after discussions with the UCI Management Committee, I'm delighted to announce today that the UCI will invest an extra 1 million Swiss Francs into the Continental Confederations for National Federation development over the next three years.
As a further commitment I am also very pleased to announce that we are establishing a development fund for National Federations. Grants of between 5,000 CHF and 20,000 CHF will be available for cycling development projects that have the potential to deliver long term legacy benefits.
This is an important development and, as trust returns to the UCI and Cycling, I have every confidence that more commercial and broadcast partners will join us in the coming few years.
In fact, I'm confident that the value of our media rights will now grow as we negotiate new deals – and it is through these new deals that we can provide you with even greater financial and other support.
I look forward to updating you on this as the work of our new Marketing Department starts to bear fruit. So these are exciting times for our sport as we head into an important Olympic year.
The progress we have made has not come about by chance. It has come about due to the hard work, dedication and effort of many in this room and I am grateful for all your support in driving our great sport forward.
I have a very clear and simple vision for what the UCI should ultimately be here for.
And that is to work in true partnership to create great cycling events across the world, and to inspire young people to be part of cycling – whether as a recreational rider, a commuter or an elite competitor.
This mission will drive me as I continue as your President. There is much to look forward to as I focus on delivering the remainder of my Manifesto and creating an environment where Cycling can flourish and prosper. Thank you for your attention, for your continued support and for the wonderful work every single one of you does for our great sport.
Without your effort and commitment, Cycling would not be in the great place it finds itself today, and it is a privilege for me to be your President.