Cycling - 19 Sep 2013 - Brian Cookson, the British candidate for the presidency of the UCI, cycling’s international governing body, has received the backing of the influential USA Cycling, the national governing body for the sport, as he seeks to oust incumbent Pat McQuaid in this month’s election.
The federation’s backing comes as no surprise after USA Cycling led a group of national cycling federations which called on McQuaid and Christophe Hubschmid, the UCI director general, to approach the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne for a ruling on a vexed point in the UCI’s constitution that could play a part in determining the outcome of the UCI’s presidential election.
Cookson is seen by some as the reform candidate as Ireland's McQuaid, who is seeking a third term in office, has come under fire over his handling of doping scandals in cycling and wrangling over whether he should be allowed to stand in the election in Florence, Italy on September 27.
USA Cycling said in a statement: “The upcoming UCI presidential election should serve as a turning point for our sport – an historic moment in time when the UCI begins to chart a dynamic, new course and fully regains its international stature and credibility.”
The statement concluded: “The UCI president must lead, inspire and unify. As one of the five founding countries of the UCI, USA Cycling believes Brian Cookson is best qualified to lead the UCI at this critical moment in time and provide a measured, fair approach to managing the sport and rebuilding trust in the UCI. We are therefore proud to join the many other National Federations from around the world who have committed their support for Brian as the next president of the UCI.”
The request from USA Cycling for a CAS ruling, which was supported by the federations of Russia, Finland, Algeria and Canada, but which was dismissed by the UCI, turned on the interpretation of Article 51.1 in the UCI’s constitution, which says that presidential candidates must be supported by a nomination from “the federation of the candidate.”
McQuaid, who failed to secure the nomination first of Cycling Ireland and then of Swiss Cycling (McQuaid now lives in Switzerland), has argued that he could legitimately be nominated by any of the seven federations of which he has membership, and is in fact relying on nominations from two of those federations, namely the Thai Cycling Association and the Fédération Royale Marocaine de Cyclisme.
McQuaid has come under sustained attack for a perceived attempt to change the election rules mid-way through the process to allow candidates to be nominated by any two national federations. However, he has insisted that the proposal, which is due to face a vote at the Congress, comes not from him but from the Malaysian cycling federation and the Asian Continental Confederation.
Cookson this week claimed that he will be elected president of the UCI in emphatic style next week, saying that of the 42 votes available, he has support "in the high 20s."
Cookson received a boost in his campaign on Sunday when he received the support of the UEC, the European Cycling Union. The 14 European delegates are now mandated to vote for Cookson at the election, although it is a secret ballot, when he will require 22 of the 42 votes available to oust McQuaid.
As well as the 14 European voting delegates, there will be nine from each of Asia and the Americas, seven from Africa and three from Oceania involved in the UCI vote.
• Lance Armstrong, the disgraced US former star rider, has welcomed a suggestion from Cookson that a ‘truth and reconciliation’ process, involving a possible amnesty for riders confessing to their part in past doping, could be launched if Cookson is elected UCI president.
Armstrong told VeloNews in an email that “of course” he’d be interested in such a panel, adding: “At this point, let’s get it all out. Stop the drip, drip and draw a line in the sand and move on.”
Cookson told reporters earlier this week: “I think we will need to have some sort of truth and reconciliation process, we need to have it agreed with WADA [the World Anti Doping Agency] and there needs to be some form of amnesty or sentence reduction and encouragement to those people to come forward and tell the truth. But the sooner we get that the better, but you don’t need a commission to tell the truth, just go out there and tell it.”