/ Cycling

UCI president Pat McQuaid's challenger Brian Cookson outlines plans for role

Updated: Tuesday, 25 Jun 2013 16:46 | Comments

Pat McQuaid faces September's elections for the UCI presidency
Pat McQuaid faces September's elections for the UCI presidency

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Brian Cookson believes change at the top of the International Cycling Union is imperative in order to restore the sport's credibility.

The British Cycling president has outlined his challenge to incumbent UCI president Pat McQuaid ahead of September's elections, with anti-doping at the top of the agenda.

"It needs a change in leadership to bring about any meaningful change in the way we handle the critical, credibility issues which are damaging our sport," Cookson said after revealing his manifesto in Paris, yards from where the UCI was founded in 1900.

"What's clearly come out of the massive amount of debate and discussion over the last few months and the UCI's own stakeholder consultation is two things.

"One: the image of cycling is completely damaged by the way in which it has been run and, secondly, that that has undermined the credibility of the leadership.

"I love the sport and I'm increasingly frustrated about the way it's been governed and led and I think I can do a better job.

"Part of the problem is that the UCI has consistently and unnecessarily sought conflict and argument with other organisations, the very organisations with whom it should be collaborating and co-operating to develop cycling and to tackle the most insidious problem which is doping."

"I love the sport and I'm increasingly frustrated about the way it's been governed" Brian Cookson

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.

McQuaid is seeking a third term as president and while some in the cycling community will be happy to see anyone oust the much-maligned Irishman, Cookson is confident of beating any challenger.

"I want to focus on what I think I can do," said Cookson, who has been British Cycling president since 1996. Democratic institutions become stronger by having leadership contests, not weaker, so I welcome anybody who wants to stand as a candidate.

"Let's have the debate - it's good, it's healthy and that's how democracy should be. I'm quite happy to be the only challenger, or one of several challengers.

"I think I can make a strong case for my leadership qualities and my ability to do the job, however many candidates there are."

"Brian Cookson's election manifesto is half baked, fundamentally flawed and financially impractical' - Pat McQuaid

Later, McQuaid responded to the publication of Cookson's manifesto in Paris in typically combative style.

"Brian Cookson's election manifesto is half baked, fundamentally flawed and financially impractical," the Irishman said in a statement.

"Just telling people what they want to hear is easy. He needs to explain how he is going to make it happen.

"He must also make a clear statement on whether he believes that cycling has changed, as many of today's riders have said loudly and clearly.

"He must also clarify whether he believes cycling is leading the fight against doping, in order to reassure the cycling family that he is prepared to stand up for the sport against those who attack it."

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