European cycling federations come out for Brian Cookson
But will a single big voting block be enough?
The national federations of the European Cycling Union [UEC] decided yesterday to back British Cycling president Brian Cookson in the election for UCI president on September 27.
They also voted against a proposed amendment to the UCI constitution which would allow any two federations to nominate a candidate for president, regardless of the candidate’s membership of those federations.
UEC support for Mr Cookson was confirmed following presentations Sunday morning by Mr Cookson and his opponent, sitting UCI president Pat McQuaid. Mr Cookson received 27 federation votes to Mr McQuaid’s 10. The result means that all 14 European delegates who will vote in the UCI Presidential election in Florence on 27 September are now mandated to vote for Mr Cookson.
After the decisions, Brian Cookson said:
“I am delighted to have received the overwhelming support of the UEC who have shown such a positive approach to the development of our sport.
"The discussions and debate we had this morning following my presentation were extremely encouraging. I would like to congratulate the UEC for their professionalism in organising today’s debate and for ensuring such a dignified environment for the presentations to take place. There was a real appetite for change to help restore the credibility of the UCI and I am confident of building on the support of the UEC and Federations from around the world as we head into the last days of the election.
“I am also very pleased that the UEC has voted so strongly against amending the rules of the election retrospectively.”
A big voting block - but what does it mean?
The UEC controls 33 percent of the votes at the UCI Congress that will elect the next president and decide on any rules changes.
There are 42 delegates in total, divided into continental federations like this:
Africa: 7 delegates (17%)
Asia: 9 delegates (21%)
America: 9 delegates (21%)
Europe: 14 delegates (33%)
Oceania: 3 delegates (7%)
Europe’s support of Cookson almost certainly means that rule changes that would make McQuaid’s nomination for president easier are dead in the water, as those require a two-third majority of delegates. That incudes the proposal to allow any two federations to nominate any candidate, and to backdate that change.
However, the UCI claims it has legal advice that any federation can nominate any of its members for the presidency, and McQuaid is a member of the Moroccan and Thai federations, both of which have nominated him. Unless a legal challenge is brought against that UCI decision, McQuaid’s nomination stands.
If it then comes down to a straight fight, McQuaid still has plenty of support. He can count on the Asian and African delegations, which account for 38 percent of the vote, and probably most of the American delegation as he has strong support in South America.
Those territories, which don’t have a long tradition of involvement in cycling, are believed to be more interested in McQuaid’s work to globalise cycling than in the minutiae of how the UCI is run or even how much McQuaid and his predecessor Hein Verbruggen knew about Lance Armstrong’s misdeeds.
Cycling Australia has come out in favour of Cookson, but even if the regional cycling superpower manages to persuade all three Oceania delegates to vote for Cookson, that’s only secures him an apparent 40 percent of the vote. The exact split in the Americas’ votes is going to be crucial.
And all this assumes that delegates will vote as mandated. The final decision is taken by secret ballot and there is therefore nothing to stop a delegate voting against his or her confederation’s recommendation.
The UCI Congress convenes on September 27 to elect a new president or re-appoint the incumbent.