Brian Cookson sums up his first two weeks as UCI president
Kimmage case withdrawn, WADA dialogue opened, new staff appointed, falling skeletons dodged
Newly-installed UCI president Brian Cookson has outlined what he’s been up to in the two weeks or so since winning the election for the job on September 27. Significant points include new staff appointments, opening a new dialogue with the World Anti-Doping Agency, changing an age rule about the make-up of women’s teams and withdrawing the UCI from the legal action against journalist Paul Kimmage.
Two senior members of the UCI staff who departed rapidly after Cookson’s succession are former director general Christophe Hubschmid and legal counsel Philippe Verbiest. Both were seen as closely associated with Pat McQuaid’s regime and their departure is unsurprising.
Speaking at the Tour of Beijing, Cookson said that his election indicated that the cycling family wanted change, and that he and the new management committee had quickly got down to work, appointing new presidents of the UCI Commissions.
Turning to doping and related subjects, Cookson said: “We have started the work of establishing a high level dialogue with WADA to plan how we will proceed with the independent investigation into the UCI’s past. We have also been making contact with other key stakeholders in this area, including USADA, other national anti-doping organisations and the French Sports Ministry. And earlier this week I called Paul Kimmage to tell him that the UCI has withdrawn from the legal action against him.”
Kimmage took to Twitter yesterday to respond to the news. He tweeted: “Was notified this afternoon that the UCI have dropped their legal action against me. I also had a brief conversation with Brian Cookson. He’s going to need some time and space to sort the mess he has inherited but I wish him the best.
“A huge thanks to those who supported me during a very difficult time. It’s not over yet but I can see the red kite.”
Developing women’s cycling was a significant plank of Cookson’s platform.
He said: “We have also confirmed the decision to revoke the age limit of 28 that existed for UCI Women’s Teams and to form a new Commission for women’s cycling to help facilitate the growth of women’s elite racing.”
The age rule, which applied because women’s teams were lumped in with men’s Continental teams in the UCI’s rules, previously said that the riders in a women’s team had to have an average age of 28 or less. Intended to encourage the ‘development team’ nature of Continental teams, it was never useful for women’s teams and they and their riders had been complaining about it to the UCI for years to little avail.
During the campaign for the UCI presidency, Pat McQuaid made much of his seat on the International Olympic Committee and links to the Olympic movement. Cookson is clearly planning to work to establish similar links.
He said: “Over the coming weeks I am looking forward to meeting with my friends and colleagues in the Olympic movement, including the new IOC President, Thomas Bach, and Rio 2016 President, Carlos Nuzman. And last week in Switzerland I met with Andrew Ryan, Executive Director of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations.”
He added that an extraordinary meeting of the UCI management committee would take place on 29 October at UCI HQ in Aigle to assess progress in implementing his manifesto pledges and for the new management committee to meet UCI staff.
He concluded: “It’s been a busy time but very constructive and I am grateful to all the support I have received from the cycling family in setting out on this new path.”