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Brian Cookson claims it has been “a year of real progress” for the UCI

Says hidden motors are the biggest threat to the credibility of the sport

UCI President Brian Cookson says cycling has made progress in a number of areas over the course of 2016. He was particularly keen to talk up changes in women’s cycling, including the launch of the UCI Women’s WorldTour, but admitted that motor doping and the Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) that allow athletes to use some otherwise banned drugs on prescription remain areas of concern.

“It’s been a year of real progress,” said Cookson when asked to summarise 2016. “Quite apart from the fantastic Olympic and Paralympic Games, our sport made great headway in many important areas over the year.”

Cookson described 2016 as a ‘breakthrough year’ for women’s cycling, citing the introduction of the UCI Women’s WorldTour, live television broadcast of over half the races and increased exposure on social media. He then looked ahead to next year.

“There is good news for 2017, with women’s Elite racing going to new cities and regions across Europe, China and the USA. The 2017 UCI Women’s WorldTour will see the addition of two stage races and two one-day races, increasing the total number of competition days by over 30 per cent.

“The extended calendar reflects the significant progress being made to boost the profile and professionalism of women’s cycling and establish its status within mainstream sport. I am determined to keep pushing forward with the professionalism of women’s cycling.”

Cookson was also keen to laud the sport’s anti-doping efforts – including measures to combat mechanical doping.

“As we pursue our work towards restoring credibility in the sport of cycling, we have continued to invest significantly in our anti-doping programme, which is rightly regarded as one of the leaders of any sport. Indeed, protecting the integrity of our sport remains an absolute priority and that is why we have invested significant resources to test literally thousands of bikes against technological fraud.”

Cookson went on to describe hidden motors as being the biggest threat to the credibility of the sport, pointing to the six-year ban imposed on Belgian cyclo-cross rider Femke Van den Driessche, and saying: “We were very quick and efficient in dealing with this case which, I must underline, remains the only case of technological fraud to date.”

He also acknowledged the ongoing controversy surrounding the use of TUEs, but said:

“The first thing to say is that the UCI strengthened its TUE assessment process in June 2014 during the first year of my presidency. This change put in place a more robust, independent three-person TUE Committee made up of independent experts that requires unanimity before sanctioning any TUE request.

“This is a higher standard than required by international norms. The number of TUEs the UCI has sanctioned in recent years is declining – from 31 in 2013 to 13 last year. We always share the details of TUEs granted with WADA, which adds another level of scrutiny.”

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davel | 7 years ago

That photo of him smugging down to the camera while dressed like a pre-credit crunch banker with the UCI plaque on his shoulder is a bigger threat to cycling's credibility than motors.

Yo Brian, can you spell FIFA?

Good. Now roll those pin-striped sleeves up and do something about TUEs. Dithering is not action.

Morat | 7 years ago

He sure would  2

I just hope that the TUEs will become less common and we'll see cycling continue on its gradual course towards clean* competition. I don't think many people would deny that progress has been made, but it does seem too early to declare "Mission Accomplished" on drug abuse in cycling.


*definitions on a postcard, please

davel | 7 years ago

Excellent deflection.

The biggest threat to cycling is something easy to detect and has only been confirmed on a bike in the care of (not while she was riding) a Belgian U23 cyclo-cross competitor. I'm happy that we have Brian Cookson to remind us of that single occurrence and save us from a moped-dominated grand tour or world champs.

Meanwhile, cyclists taking PEDs illegally or exploiting TUEs presumably pales in comparison. Well, the president of British Cycling 1997-2013 would say that, wouldn't he?

Yorkshire wallet | 7 years ago

Hidden motors have had their 5 minutes in the sun, it's TUEs and the like dragging cycling through the mud. Get on top of that. Why go the motor route when you can get all manner of fringe medicine legally.

Milkfloat | 7 years ago
1 like

I would argue that it is Cookson himself who is the biggest danger to the credibility of the sport.

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