Brian Cookson has defended his record as UCI president in the face of a challenge to his leadership launched today by France’s David Lappartient.
Lappartient, former president of the French cycling federation and current president of the European confederation, the UEC, supported Cookson when he defeated the incumbent Pat McQuaid in 2013 to secure the top job at world cycling’s governing body.
But announcing his intention to stand against Cookson at the World Cycling Congress in Bergen, Norway, in September, Lappartient was critical of the reforms undertaken on Cookson’s watch and insisted he could do a better job than the Briton.
He said: "I have always voiced my concerns on the various challenges I have witnessed at UCI, and as a vice-president of the organisation, I have been made aware of a number of issues that must be urgently addressed if cycling is to remain a credible sport.
"It is crucial that we have at UCI a President with a real leadership, who is truly engaged and with a clear vision for cycling."
In a statement released today, Cookson countered the criticism of his leadership, saying:
I learned that David Lappartient, UCI Vice President and President of the UCI Professional Cycling Council has decided to run against me for the Presidency of the UCI.
I strongly believe that my track record of restoring integrity and credibility to the UCI, and developing cycling over the past four years, together with my plans for a final four-year term as president, will be judged favourably by the cycling family at the UCI Congress in Bergen in September.
My plans can be read on my campaign website www.briancookson.org together with some of the messages of support I have been proud to receive from across the cycling world, from those most familiar with the work of my administration.
That website also contains a summary of the many things which have been achieved over the last four years of my leadership of the UCI across anti-doping, governance, transparency, women's cycling, communication and the development of the sport. Having recently had confirmation from the IOC that at the Tokyo Games we will have additional medals for men's and women's events in both the Madison and BMX Freestyle, I am proud that cycling is now the third largest Olympic sport.
Having changed the constitution of the UCI to introduce term limits and improve the election process after the controversial events of four years ago, I respect other people's right to announce their candidature. I note that so far David Lappartient has not set out very much detail in his plan or any vision he may have beyond his well-known personal ambition for the role. I look forward to debating what matters for the future of cycling over the coming months.
The challenge to Cookson’s leadership of the UCI comes days after the Member of Parliament Damian Collins called on UK Sport not to provide financial backing for his re-election campaign.
Collins, who hopes to continue his role as chair of the House of Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media & Sport, was speaking after the publication of the report of the independent review into British Cycling, much of which focused on the period when Cookson was president of the national governing body.
But British Cycling countered his criticism of its former president, saying: “Brian Cookson served as British Cycling president from 1997 until 2013, having joined an emergency committee in 1996 to save British Cycling from insolvency.
“He has made an enormous contribution to the sport in this country and around the world and we wish him every best wish as he seeks re-election for the role of UCI President,” it added.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.