Brian Cookson: 'I’ve got work to do and I’m up for it'

UCI president Brian Cookson says that he has unfinished business as he goes for a second term, but says he would not try for a third

Brian Cookson
(Image credit: Chris Auld)

Brian Cookson has reiterated his desire to run for a second term as UCI president claiming he is unsure if he’ll run opposed in elections later this year.

Speaking at a press conference at the Tour Down Under on Thursday, the 65-year-old was diplomatic when asked to comment on other potential candidates as well as constituents.

“It’s a little bit early to start campaigning at the moment. I don’t know whether there will be any challenges but I’m willing to be a candidate for another four years. I wouldn’t do four after that, I think that’s enough for any human being,” Cookson said.

>>> Brian Cookson set to face French challenge for UCI presidency?

The likes of French Cycling Federation head David Lappartient and Belgian Cycling Federation president Tom Van Damme have been rumoured as potential contenders for the top position that Cookson assumed in 2013 from Irishman Pat McQuaid.

“David is an ambitious young man and may well decide to be a candidate at some stage. If I was him, I’d wait another four years. He’d probably have an extremely good chance, he wouldn’t be opposing me, but it’s a matter for him,” Cookson said of the 43-year-old.

Peter Sagan and Brian Cookson at the UCI Gala at the 2016 Abu Dhabi Tour (Watson)
(Image credit: Graham Watson)

“Taking on a job like this you accept someone else might think they can do a better job. I’m not complacent, but I’m relaxed. If there is a political fight to be had then I’ll fight, but I don’t think we need that in our sport.

“We had a very controversial election campaign four years ago and frankly I think we’d be better not going down that road again. But that’s for other people to decide. I’ve said I’m willing to continue, I’ve got work to do and I’m up for it.”

Cookson won the last election with a manifesto to make anti-doping procedures fully independent and pursue an investigation (the estimated €3 million, 228-page CIRC report) into the sport’s doping culture, following Lance Armstrong’s explosive demise that at the time implicated top brass.

“If we look back, things were in a disastrous state,” Cookson said. “We’ve done a lot of work in rebuilding the image and integrity of the sport. It’s not perfect yet, we’ve still got some way to go. But if I look at the anti-doping situation, I think we’ve got now really good processes that are genuinely independent. There is no possibility of conflicts of interest, no way in which I could interfere in the process, even if I wanted to, which I don’t.”

The former British Cycling president wouldn’t be moved on what his manifesto for another term may detail but cited work including developments in women’s cycling, WorldTour and track programme reviews enacted under his tenure.

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Sophie Smith is an Australian journalist, broadcaster and author of Pain & Privilege: Inside Le Tour. She follows the WorldTour circuit, working for British, Australian and US press, and has covered 10 Tours de France.