Brian Cookson’s campaign to become the next President of the International Cycling Union (UCI) received yet another boost, this time in the form of USA Cycling, whose president and chief executive Steve Johnson has a vote at Friday’s election.
The American body says it believes British Cycling head Cookson, who is incumbent Pat McQuaid’s only challenger for the most powerful job in the world of cycling, is the “best qualified” man for the position.
Members from among 178 countries who are part of the International Cycling Union (UCI) have gathered for the world governing body’s Congress on Friday, Sept. 27 in Florence, Italy.
McQuaid, who has been head of the UCI since 2005 has come under increasing pressure following the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) decision to ban Lance Armstrong for life and strip him of his seven Tour de France titles for concealing his use of drugs.
Cookson has reported that he is confident that he has enough support among the 42 voting members to be elected the new UCI president. He has vowed to set up an independent lab with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to test for performance enhancing drugs. He also has promised to organize a “truth and reconciliation” process to allow cyclists to come forward on doping.
“The upcoming UCI Presidential election should serve as a turning point for our sport, an historic moment in time when the UCI begins to chart a dynamic, new course and fully regains its international stature and credibility,” Johnson said in a USA Cycling statement. “It is clear from the cycling stakeholders’ survey that transparency, integrity, credibility, accountability and good governance must be addressed if we are to have a brighter future and grow cycling globally. The UCI President must lead, inspire and unify.”
Johnson’s statement added: “As one of the five founding countries of the UCI, USA Cycling believes Brian Cookson is best qualified to lead the UCI at this critical moment in time and provide a measured, fair approach to managing the sport and rebuilding trust in the UCI. We are therefore proud to join the many other National Federations from around the world who have committed their support for Brian as the next President of the UCI.”
Cookson told insidethegames.biz that the USA’s endorsement is another positive step towards securing his position at the top of world cycling. He also took to Twitter to declare his delight at the endorsement, tweeting: “Thank you @usacycling for your support. It is a privilege to have your backing!”
The move by USA Cycling is hardly surprising considering that earlier this month Johnson, along with a number of other cycling power brokers, was calling on the UCI to let the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) decide whether or not McQuaid is eligible stand for re-election. Despite the fact that McQuaid has not received nominations from either of his home federations, Cycling Ireland or Switzerland, where he lives, the proposal for an independent arbitration was subsequently rejected by the UCI.
Cookson said he will work to restore cycling’s reputation internationally, if he defeats McQuaid.
“I have been humbled by the well wishes I have received from the cycling community across the globe, including many ordinary cycling fans, who have told me how much they want to see change in the leadership of the UCI,” Cookson said. “On Friday, we have the opportunity to begin to respond to those hopes and aspirations and embrace a new style of governance, a new way of working, and enter an exciting new era for the UCI and our sport.
“We have to begin a process which will restore trust and credibility in all that we do,” he added. “I do not say this just because it is the right thing to do. I say it because at the heart of my vision for the UCI is a passionate yet simple belief. Friday is a crossroads moment.”
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org. Inside the Games is an online blog of the London Organizing Committee that staged the 2012 London Games. The blog continues to cover issues that are important to the Olympic Movement. This article is reprinted here with permission of the blog editors.