Brian Cookson: “I am confident that the voting delegates will protect the UCI’s reputation in September”

By @pmpalermo

Which was you reaction when you were informed about the proposal of the Malaysian federation?

I see this as a clear sign of desperation from the incumbent President, Pat McQuaid. It is no wonder that many in the cycling family, as well as fans and sponsors, have lost faith in the UCI to govern ethically when the man at the top of the organization is prepared to embarrass an entire sport in an attempt to try and cling onto power.

I am confident that the voting delegates will protect the UCI’s reputation in September by voting to reject these proposals.

If the Swiss federation indeed supports McQuaid, will that have an influence on you campaign strategy?

My intention has never been to run an anti-Pat campaign, so the position of the nomination changes very little for me.

 

The recent attempt to change the nomination and electoral process further highlights the desperation of the incumbent Pat McQuaid, and reinforces my belief that the principles of honesty and transparency I would bring to the UCI will help restore cycling’s credibility.

For the people who would like to know you: which are the main points of your program?

The primary motives for running for UCI Presidency are to restore cycling’s worldwide credibility, to change its governance and to make the sport more open and transparent for a healthy future. Within my manifesto, I outlined six key areas which I believe are integral to achieving these aims.

My six key pledges are to:

– Rebuild trust in the UCI
– Transform, the way anti-doping is dealt with
– Grow cycling across the globe
– Develop women’s cycling
– Overhaul elite road cycling
– Strengthen cycling’s credibility and influence within the Olympic Movement

On the basis of the report of the French senate you said that you would apply pardon and amnesty. Is that also valid for Lance Armstrong? So many people in cycling complain about the fact that treatment is different according to the person…

I have no unique plan for Lance Armstrong as an individual and encourage him to come forward to reveal his part in the doping process – to which he has already admitted – as soon as possible.

It is clear that something went very badly wrong with our sport in the 1990s and 2000s and I believe we need a process which enables us to understand how that happened to such an extent.

Riders and those involved in the sport at the time must take some responsibility, but in order to move on we need to fully investigate the UCI’s role throughout the era. To this end, I am absolutely committed to ensuring that any allegations which directly implicate the UCI over doping cover ups are fully and independently investigated.

Till which point will the Independent Commission you want to create investigate? Till when shall we investigate what belong to the past? Will anti-doping controls be independent too?

I will implement a fully independent investigation into doping in cycling so we can deal once and for all with the past, with amnesties/reductions in sanctions to encourage all those involved to come forward. This will require agreement with WADA on its terms of reference and the appropriate amnesty provisions to properly incentivise those involved to come forward, but it must be done.

The brief of the investigation should include the uncovering of any UCI corruption and collusion, and understand what factors led to the culture of doping.

What do you thing about anti-doping controls? I don’t ask for the fact cyclists must wake up very early in the morning but principally for what, for example, happened to Dan Martin a few days ago.

Anti-doping procedures are a necessary requirement in sport, and riders view them as a practical aspect of being professional athletes. I support the requirements and procedures as outlined by WADA and the national anti-doping authorities.

It looks like Team Euskaltel-Euskadi is dying. Will you keep on supporting “forced” globalization, for example through the system of UCI points like it is the case now? That globalization left many European cyclist unemployed even if it opened doors to African, Asian and American riders as well as to their teams.

Globalization is essential to the health of any sport – we must look to encourage cycling to grow in Latin America, Africa and Asia if it is to compete with other global sports.  Greater globalisation will lead to more money coming into the sport from sponsors which will better sustain teams.

What is your opinion about the recent Tour de France? Have we to worry about the level of Team Sky?

There were many heroic performances at this year’s Tour de France and yet there has been a mood of scepticism and doubt in some quarters. This is deeply frustrating for the riders but, if you look at the past and what our sport has been through, it is not a surprise.

We must act to change this situation so that the public can feel confident and cycling’s great performances, such as those by Chris Froome and Team Sky this year, can be heralded not disparaged. After a magnificent end to the 100th Tour de France, the UCI owes it to all the clean riders to show leadership on anti doping.

Do you think it would be possible in the future to implement the following idea: to oblige cyclists to finish their studies before they turn professional? Many children left school because they are dreaming of becoming a sports star but if they don’t succeed in doing that they have nothing to help them survive.

I think it is crucial that young athletes receive the best possible support and education as they are developing as riders. This is both the responsibility National Federations and the UCI, and I believe the World Cycling Centres have a lead role to play in leading the way in this regard.

During my Presidency with British Cycling, I have implemented large scale revisions of the rider development and education pathways and believe these interventions have been a key contributor to establishing the current success that is being enjoyed by the Great Britain Cycling team.

I am very keen to bring this knowledge to the UCI and to share expertise as widely as possible.

Pablo Martín Palermo

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pmpalermo@hotmail.com 

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