Antoine Vayer has revealed that the pressure group Change Cycling Now requested Dick Pound to stand for the UCI Presidency. The former WADA head declined the invitation but Vayer, a member of CCN, also reiterated his belief that change is needed within the sport’s governing body.
“We asked many people. I can speak about what I’ve done,” Vayer said on the matter of trying to persuade Pound to stand for election.
Pound wasn’t the only high profile figure Vayer talked to.
“I tried to see if Daniel Baal was willing. I then tested the waters with David Lappartient. We even asked Dick Pound. Greg LeMond said he would be good so we asked. He said no though. We asked him in February," he told Cyclingnews.
“We’ve tried to find a candidate we could have got behind but we couldn’t find anyone. Then Cookson came along.”
Brian Cookson - head of British Cycling - announced his election bid in the spring of this year and is Pat McQuaid’s only challenger ahead of next month’s election in Florence.
Vayer admitted that he personally supports Cookson, having labelled McQuaid as incompetent earlier this year, but the former Festina trainer denied that there were any formal ties between CCN, Cookson and British Cycling.
“McQuaid is the first stone we need to remove. If a man like Cookson is elected he will bring the independent controls over doping and he’ll bring a real truth and reconciliation. Maybe by the end of the year all the targets of Change Cycling will have been made.”
“Cookson has not talked to CCN though. There’s nothing between Cookson and Change Cycling Now, other than in spirit. Personally I would like him to be president. I think he’s a good man. I think he likes cycling more than money and he looks like a candidate who isn’t doing this for power. He’s not yet corrupted. It’s fresh," he told Cyclingnews.
Vayer and McQuaid met earlier this year when the Frenchman wore a hidden camera in his clothes in order to record the conversation. Vayer admitted that his actions were unfair but justified them nevertheless, suggesting that such tactics were part of the ‘war’ within cycling.
“It wasn’t fair but it’s a war. Sometimes for clean sport and for integrity you have to strike out. I’m a fighter and sometimes you have to be violent but that sometimes means being constructive too. In 1999 there was a story from me in L’Equipe saying that we need a revolution. I said that in 1999 and now people are finally starting to say it too.”
“I think back in March everyone thought that McQuaid would be re-elected and when I saw McQuaid in January he looked me in the eyes and he said to me, ‘I’m 100 per cent sure I’ll be elected’.”
"The fact is that Cookson is standing and that’s part of a revolution. It represents a revolution.”
McQuaid's candidacy has been shrouded in controversy. He lost the support his home federation as well as a second nomination from the Swiss. It leaves him with the controversial support from Thailand and Morocco.
"Now I think McQuaid will lose but maybe he’ll retire before the election because everyone is fighting with him. Who supports McQuaid now? Nobody. Do you know some journalists, some riders, some team directors who support McQuaid. In three months I’ve not heard one person say they want him elected again. I think everyone will be happy if he leaves."
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Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.