The dust has now settled on the International Cycling Union’s embarrassing presidential election, but despite having a new leader the sport and toe body have a lot of ground to make up in terms of credibility.
Brian Cookson was the man handed the hot potato after five hours of heated debate as to whether the outgoing president, Irishman Pat McQuaid should have been allowed to stand over questions as to whether his nomination was valid. Hardly the greatest start to your term in office.
In his opening comments as President of UCI Cookson stated ‘the biggest challenge is to get everyone reunified.’ Which may be easier said than done.
Just hours after his election members of UCI’s sports services who opted to remain anonymous accused Cookson’s camp of having ‘sprayed’ the voting delegates with money to swing the vote his way.
Cookson needs to deliver on his election promises, one of which was a truth and reconciliation process to clean up cycling. “We need to look at the analysis of what has gone wrong,’ he said ‘ people have talked about a truth and reconciliation commission, i’m not entirely comfortable with those words but we certainly need to have a thorough review. I want to get that under way as soon as I can in the first few weeks of my presidency.”
Cookson is expected to improve UCI’s relationship with all the anti-doping bodies after repeated conflicts in the past. A relationship that was not helped by former UCI president Hein Verbruggen, who was accused by Floyd Landis of receiving payments from Lance Armstrong to cover up a positive drugs test and who in USADA’s “Reasoned Decision” on Lance Armstrong was quoted as saying in May 2011: “There is nothing. I repeat again: Lance Armstrong has never used doping. Never, never, never. I say this not because I am a friend of his, because that is not true. I say it because I’m sure.”
Cookson has a tough task ahead of him of that there can be no doubt. Probably the most realistic view was that taken by Garmin Sharp manager Jonathan Vaughters who supported Cookson, when he was quoted as saying “We have a new leadership to fix the problems but the problems aren’t fixed.”
It sounds like Mr Cookson is going to need a rather large broom at UCI headquarters before he manages to change the views of many outsiders looking in at the world of cycling, let us hope for the sport’s sake he has one, or if not, a team happy to help him clean up head office.