By Nigel Wynn
British Cycling president Brian Cookson OBE has officially announced his intention to run for the presidency of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), cycle sport's global governing body.
"I am today announcing that I am standing as a candidate for the Presidency of the UCI," said Cookson in a statement issued on Tuesdsay morning. "I have the full support and nomination of my home federation, British Cycling, and I respectfully ask for the support of the national cycling federations of the world and the whole international cycling family."
Cookson says that he wants to address the many criticisms levelled at the UCI in recent years, in particular increasing the effectiveness of the on-going fight against doping in the sport and to make the organisation more open and transparent in its operation.
"I passionately believe that the UCI needs to embrace a new way of doing things, and address, head on, some of the critical challenges facing our sport," said Cookson. "We must restore cycling's credibility."
Cookson has been president of British Cycling since 1996, and has overseen sweeping changes in the way that organisation has been run and has witnessed the huge success of British cycling during his tenure, including unprecedented hauls of Olympic medals in the 2008 and 2012 Games, and the emergence of Britain as a major international player in professional road cycling with the likes of Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish. Cookson joined the UCI's management committee in 2009 and is crrently the president of its Road Commission.
Although Cookson's name was connected with the possibility of nomination for UCI presidency at the beginning of the year, until this point he has played down his interest in the role.
Current UCI president Pat McQuaid has often been at the centre of controversy, with the UCI being accused of incompetence and corruption, not least as part of the high-profile investigation into the doping practices of Lance Armstrong and the US Postal team. McQuaid's attempt to run for a further term hit a problem in recent weeks when his nomination by Cycling Ireland was declared void.
"The passion I and many others have for cycling cannot hide the fact that our international body, the UCI, remains hugely distracted, continuing to flounder in waves of damaging historical controversies," said Cookson.
"For far too many people our sport is associated with doping, with decisions that are made behind closed doors and with ceaseless conflicts with important members of the cycling family and other key stakeholders. This situation is deeply damaging for our sport, and it has severely compromised the UCI's ability to develop and communicate some of the good work that is happening across the world."
He concluded: "I would be truly honoured to be elected UCI President, but I also understand the magnitude of the challenges we face. If successful in my campaign, I will do all in my powers to turn my vision of a more open and modern UCI into reality, in full partnership with all the other stakeholders in the sport we love."
Elections for the UCI presidency will take place in Italy in September 2013.
Who is Brian Cookson?
Cookson was born in Lancashire, England, on 22 June 1951. He has a life-long interest in cycling, having been an active competitor on the road, track and mountain biking. He won his regional road race championship in 1971.
After graduating from Manchester Polytechnic with a diploma in landscape architecture, Cookson was employed as a chartered landscape architect, urban designer and regeneration specialist. He held the position of Executive Director (Regeneration) at the Borough of Pendle local authority, and retired from the role in March 2013.
Cookson was awarded an OBE in 2008 for his services to national cycling. He still cycles regularly.
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