Brian Cookson, hours after becoming president of cycling’s governing body, promised changes to the UCI to avoid another election ‘disaster’.
“We can all agree that today was pretty disastrous for the reputation of cycling and the UCI,” Cookson said in a press conference. “It was mishandled in so many ways.”
The UCI Congress went hours over its planned schedule debating whether incumbent president, Pat McQuaid should be able to run for a third term.
“I think we are putting on a real show for the press and public,” said the Colombian representative as the meeting dragged on. “It’s a shame.”
McQuaid failed to get support from his home country Ireland in the months leading to the election. Switzerland, where he lives, pulled the rug out from under him. It nominated him but later revoked its decision.
Attention turned to far off lands, Thailand and Morocco. McQuaid is a member of their federations and received their nominations. He also had the possibility of a joint nomination, a proposal by Malaysia that would allow any two countries to back a presidential candidate.
“It’s not a very clear statement,” a Latvian spokesman explained over McQuaid’s path to the election. Cookson ended the debate when he agreed to allow the vote between him and McQuaid go ahead. He won, a 24-18 split, but hours had been seemly wasted while the junior women and Under 23 men raced for their world titles.
The wording of Article 51.1 of the UCI’s constitution was at the centre of the storm. It reads “the candidates for the presidency shall be nominated by the federation of the candidate.” Six nations asked that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) clarify it before the elections, but the former government refused the request. Cookson has different ideas.
“If I say I’m going to have a constitution review, that sounds a bit boring but essentially that’s what we’ll do,” added Cookson. “We’ll take some time to think this through, to restructure how we are going to work and to have a revised constitution in place to be adopted at next year’s congress.”
Cookson became the first British President in the 100-plus years of cycling’s governing body. “I’m still emotional now,” he said. “We’ve hated to see the damage inflicted on it. We wanted to do something to heal that. I’m proud to be selected by my colleagues to lead that fight.”