Brian Cookson has this afternoon launched his manifesto for his bid to become president of the UCI, the title Restoring Trust, Leading Change reflecting the overarching message of a document that outlines how he aims to rebuild the credibility of cycling's global governing body and move it forward.
The manifesto was launched at the Hotel Radisson Blu Ambassador in Paris, the location chosen because it is just yards from where the UCI was itself founded in 1900.
That's not a coincidence; the manifesto from Cookson, currently president of British Cycling and a member of the UCI's management committee, is underpinned by a commitment to make to make a fresh start for the organisation, including a full investigation of its role in the Lance Armstrong scandal.
“I wanted to come to this symbolic location because I believe that we need a new President of the UCI who will restore the values which the UCI was founded to uphold and to take the sport in a new direction," Cookson explained.
"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.”
In the manifesto, the 61-year-old makes pledges in six distinct areas. Those are to:
· Rebuild trust in the UCI
· Transform anti-doping in cycling
· Grow cycling across the globe
· Develop women’s cycling
· Overhaul elite road cycling
· Strengthen cycling’s credibility and influence within the Olympic Movement.
Here's what Cookson, under whose tutelage British Cycling was rescued from insolvency in 1997 and in the decade and a half since then has become a global cycling superpower, has to say about each of those areas:
Rebuild trust in the UCI
“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."
Transform anti-doping in cycling
“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). 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.”
Affirming that he would order an independent investigation to address allegations of UCI collusion in issues such as the Lance Armstrong scandal, he also said that he would bring a halt to the public feuds with bodies such as the World Anti-Doping Agency that have characterised much of current president Pat McQuaid's time in office, saying:
“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.”
Grow cycling across the globe
“Our sport has such fantastic potential worldwide. 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, increasing its budget, hosting more riders from developing nations and utilising the experience of the more successful nations to nurture cycling in developing nations.”
Develop women's cycling
“I strongly believe there is huge potential to grow women’s cycling at all levels. As UCI President, 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.”
Overhaul elite road racing
Measures Cookson advocates here include:
- Working with all stakeholders in professional cycling to create a simpler more cohesive events calendar
- Establishing a stronger global series of tiered races for up-and-coming athletes and events
- Develop a structure that promotes long term financial stability
- Refocusing the UCI's Global Cycling Promotion (GCP) unit to create a clearly understood strategy for developing races and eliminate conflicts of interest with other race promoters.
Strengthen cycling's credibility and influence within the Olympic movement
Pledges here include working alongside the IOC to try and bring about an increase in athlete quotas as well as the number of disciplines, including ones that would be new to the Olympic Games such as Freestyle BMX and MTB Eliminator, as well as the return to the Olympic programme of track events such as the individual pursuit and the points race, both dropped after Beijing in 2008.
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.