/ Cycling

Brian Cookson outlines plan to challenge Pat McQuaid for UCI presidency

Updated: Monday, 24 Jun 2013 17:43 | Comments

Brian Cookson (R) has outlined his plans for the UCI presidency campaign
Brian Cookson (R) has outlined his plans for the UCI presidency campaign

Brian Cookson today outlined his challenge to International Cycling Union incumbent Pat McQuaid, vowing to restore trust and credibility in the sport's world governing body if elected later this year.

The British Cycling president is so far the only person to challenge McQuaid's leadership as the Irishman, who has been UCI president since 2005, seeks to be elected for a third term in September's elections.

Several pledges have been made by Cookson, including to tackle the perceived failings of the eras of McQuaid and his predecessor, Hein Verbruggen.

Both McQuaid and Verbruggen reigns have been tarnished by systematic doping in the sport, epitomised by drugs cheat Lance Armstrong's domination of the Tour de France from 1999 to 2005.

Cookson, British Cycling president since 1996, said: "I believe the most important challenge for the new president is to restore trust in the UCI, and most importantly to rebuild people's faith in the way that anti-doping is dealt with.

"We need to give people reasons to believe that the future will be different from the past. We must build a culture of trust and confidence."

Cookson's manifesto is titled 'Restoring Trust, Leading Change' and places anti-doping at the top of the agenda.

"If elected, my first priority will be to establish a completely independent anti-doping unit, managed and governed outside of the UCI and in full cooperation with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)," Cookson added.

"This unit would be physically and politically separate from the UCI, responsible for all aspects of anti doping, and report to a board totally independent from the UCI."

Since the United States Anti-doping Agency investigation which led to Armstrong's downfall was published last year and the American's subsequent admission that he doped to win all seven of his Tour titles, there has been disagreement over the way forward.

Cookson plans to investigate claims of complicity of the UCI in the use of performance-enhancing drugs and to work together with cross-sport organisations such as WADA, with whom McQuaid has had a public spat.

"It is absurd that a sport that has suffered so much from doping has been in open conflict with the very people it should be working in partnership with," he said.

Speaking yards from where the UCI was founded in Paris in 1900, Cookson promised to revive the organisation's original values.

He added: "'Restoring Trust, Leading Change' outlines my vision for the UCI and for our wonderful sport of cycling. My aim is to fully restore the credibility of both.

"It is critical that the UCI embraces a more open and transparent approach in the way it conducts business. "Leading by example, I will introduce a range of good governance measures, including the publishing of all my financial interests, remuneration package and any potential conflicts of interest relating to the office of president.

"Once we have restored trust in cycling and the UCI, it will make our other tasks of developing the sport worldwide so much easier."

As well as rebuilding trust, tackling anti-doping and growing cycling globally, Cookson promised to develop women's cycling, overhaul road racing and strengthen the sport's credibility within the Olympic Movement, expanding the number of athletes permitted and disciplines.

"Our sport has such fantastic potential worldwide," he said.

"If elected president, I will establish a properly resourced and staffed International Development Department tasked with building our sport across the five continents and I will expand the programmes at the World Cycling Centre (in Aigle, Switzerland), increasing its budget, hosting more riders from developing nations and utilising the experience of the more successful nations to nurture cycling in developing nations."

Women's cycling has long been a poor relation and Cookson will bid for a more equal footing.

"I will make it my priority to create new opportunities for women's cycling in all disciplines, and also create a new UCI Women's Commission, appoint at least one woman to every UCI Commission, establish a minimum wage for women pro road riders and formalise proper and modern terms of employment," he said.

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