British Cycling president Brian Cookson says he has been “humbled” by the support he has received since announcing his intention to stand for election as UCI president – but there’s more trouble for the man currently in that position, Pat McQuaid, with three members of the Swiss Cycling reportedly bringing a lawsuit to block that federation's nomination of him.
Writing his first blog post on the website set up to support his bid, Cookson reflected on his visit to last weekend’s UCI Downhill World Cup in Fort William, before turning to the issue of his decision to stand for president of world cycling’s governing body.
“The great turnout [at Fort William] was a timely reminder of how popular, and unifying, our sport can be and I have been humbled by the level of support I have received ever since announcing my intention to stand for Presidency of the UCI,” he wrote.
“I have been contacted directly by people from all aspects of the sport, and almost without exception, the fans, riders, sponsors, volunteers and race organisers who have been in touch share my view that the way the UCI is led urgently needs changing.”
Cookson is a member of the UCI’s Management Committee, whose members also include the Russian billionaire Igor Makarov, owner of Katusha, whom McQuaid accused of manipulating the Briton in the interests of pursuing his own agenda, a claim Makarov has roundly rejected.
The Management Committee, chaired by McQuaid, was due to meet in Bergen in Norway this week, and recent developments should have made for an interesting meeting. Cookson, writing ahead of it, confined himself to saying: “It will be good to meet up with my colleagues for the first time since announcing my intention to run.”
He went on: “Much of the good work the UCI has undertaken in recent months and years has been undermined by a lack of confidence people have in the leadership. That is why I have now decided to stand and I believe this is a view shared by my colleagues.
“I am currently finalising my manifesto and will soon announce the ideals which underpin my campaign. As I stated in my announcement, I believe doping remains the biggest problem facing the sport by far, and I believe that reforming the anti-doping procedures is crucial if we are to restore cycling’s credibility.
“We need to establish an independent system, which is supported by organisations such as WADA and I will be meeting key figures from the world of cycling over the coming days, weeks and months to iron out the working details of this approach.
“Restoring the public’s confidence in cycling will not happen overnight, but I believe now is the time to make a change and make a difference,” added Cookson.
Currently, it’s a two-horse race for the presidency, and with just a week and a half left before nominations close, time is running out for any others who may be considering throwing their hat into the ring.
Meanwhile, with an Emergency General Meeting of Cycling Ireland convened for Saturday at which delegates are widely expected to vote against the backing of McQuaid, there’s a further challenge to what is in effect his insurance policy of a nomination from Swiss Cycling.
McQuaid is resident in Switzerland, where the UCI is headquartered, and insists that as a member of Swiss Cycling he is entitled to be nominated by it as he seeks a third term in office, irrespective of the situation with Cycling Ireland.
Quoted in L’Equipe, Selina Küpfer, spokesperson of the national governing body, confirmed today: “We received a complaint Tuesday. It emanates from three members of Swiss cycling, "adding that the matter will be decided by federation’s arbitral tribunal.
Last week, Jaimie Fuller, chairman of compression clothing company Skins, who is also a Swiss resident, and the country’s former national coach, Kurt Buergi, announced they were launching a legal challenge to Swiss Cycling’s nomination of McQuaid.
It has not been reported whether they are connected to the latest challenge to the decision.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.