Cookson faces huge battle to restore trust
By Julien Pretot, ReutersFLORENCE, Italy--After a farcical election process that further damaged the International Cycling Union's (UCI) credibility, new President Brian Cookson faces a monumental challenge to restore trust in a sport crippled by scandals.
September 29, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
Briton Cookson was elected president ahead of Ireland's Pat McQuaid, who was seeking a third term, after five hours of heated debate about whether the outgoing president should have been allowed to stand after questions over whether his nomination was valid.
In his opening comments, Cookson called for unity in the cycling family, which will be a difficult task.
“It's been a pretty destructive campaign so the biggest challenge is to get everyone reunified,” Garmin-Sharp manager Jonathan Vaughters, who supported Cookson, told Reuters by telephone.
“Everyone needs to step back, swallow their pride or walk away and the people who won should not get carried away. We have a new leadership to fix the problems but the problems aren't fixed.”
Members of the UCI's sports services, who declined to be identified, complained that the Cookson camp “sprayed” the voting delegates with money to swing the vote, which the Briton won 24-18.
McQuaid, however, had said before Friday's sometimes controversial election that he would go quietly if beaten after eight years in charge.
“Brian has set out what he intends to achieve over the next four years and I would encourage all cycling federations to support his efforts to work for the good of the sport,” said McQuaid.
McQuaid will likely be followed out of the sport by his predecessor Hein Verbruggen, the man who has repeatedly said that Lance Armstrong had never cheated, before the American, now stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, confessed he had been on drugs.
According to Vaughters, Cookson's election will improve the UCI's relationships with all the anti-doping bodies, after repeated conflicts with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) over who should have control of anti-doping, suggest.
Vaughters also said the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which has the power to add or withdraw sports from the Olympic Games, would take notice if relationships were better with all the anti-doping bodies.