Cycling Australia to back Cookson in UCI presidential race

Cycling Australia (CA) will not vote to re-elect incumbent UCI president Pat McQuaid. Cycling Australia cemented its position following an address from Cookson during his visit to Australia over the weekend which coincided with a CA board meeting.

Outgoing Cycling Australia president, Klaus Mueller, said the decision was unanimous.

"We are supporting Cookson. It was unanimous with all [CA] board members present," Mueller told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Although partly complimentary of current president Pat McQuaid, Mueller believed his handling of the United States Anti-Doping Agency investigation into Lance Armstrong and his associates was inadequate.

"CA has enjoyed a very good relationship with Pat over the years and we recognise the significant work he has done to help globalise the sport and address the doping culture that besieged professional men’s road cycling.

"However, the inadequate response in dealing with the fallout from the Armstrong affair and subsequent allegations brought against the UCI has emphasised a need for leadership change to allow the sport to move on and realise its enormous potential," added Mueller.

Mueller highlighted three specific issues that swayed the 10 out of 11 CA board members present over the weekend.

"We felt [Cookson] was in a better position to restore the reputation and integrity of the UCI and the sport internationally," said Mueller. "Also he agreed he would do everything in his power to improve the governance structures, to make those more accountable and efficient and reflect what a modern sporting body should look like."

Mueller stated that CA are advocates for a changed governance structure within the UCI that would emphasise the separation of policy creation and policy implementation.

"We think the system of having the president also performing an executive role is a flawed system," said Mueller. "There ought to be a president and board to provide the policy framework. And there out to be a separate executive administering that framework.

"Pat [McQuaid] did not agree, [he] didn't consider that sort of reform appropriate; whereas Brian Cookson was of the view that there needs to be that change,” Mueller explained. "Like all bodies, whether he can get that through is another challenge, but at least he is committed to doing his utmost to implement those changes."

Mueller added that the final straw for CA was the last minute changes in electoral process by proposed by McQuaid.

"Even if those changes are legal it is entirely unsatisfactory in any democratic process and it lacks openness, transparency and integrity. CA will not be supporting this motion at the UCI General Congress."

When the UCI presidency is voted upon at the UCI congress next month, three of the 42 votes will come from the Oceania region. Australia hold one vote with New Zealand and Fiji holding the other two. Whether or not Australia’s Oceania counterparts share the same support for Cookson with their respective votes is something that Mueller cannot confirm, but remains optimistic of.

"Yes ... they can speak for themselves and they will ultimately. But I am confident in the discussions we had that [CA's position] will be the unanimous position of Oceania."

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