World Championships Week - Vos, Costa, Cookson Winners
Is cycling going to get the leadership it deserves?
a criminal organization with Pat McQuaid sitting at the head of the table surrounded by his cronies. There were reports of cover-ups and bribes. To take the drama to a further level Mike Plant, who is part of the UCI Management Committee, had a dossier that he claimed showed how McQuaid was running the UCI like his own little evil empire. The entire contents of this dossier still haven’t been made public, but were shown to McQuaid, and yet the Irishman still refused to vacate the UCI presidency. Let’s not forget his own country’s cycling federation wouldn’t back him, nor would the Swiss federation. McQuaid had to rely on the cycling federations of Morocco and Thailand for their support so he could even run for reelection.
As the congress argued about the legality of Morocco and Thailand sponsoring McQuaid’s presidential nomination, his only competitor in the election, Great Britain's Brian Cookson said, “Let’s have the vote right now.”
This was a very gutsy move because if Cookson had waited perhaps McQuaid’s presidential nomination by Morocco and Thailand would have been null and void. While Cookson seemed to be winning the election with the popular vote, the only votes that matter are from the cycling federations and more than one cycling insider had either told me or written that they believed McQuaid would get re-elected.
However, in a 24 to 18 vote, Cookson won the UCI Presidency - and the UCI Congress, without a blink, moved on to their next agenda item.
Naturally McQuaid’s ouster from power was met with much approval from many including Lance Armstrong who tweeted, “hallelujah,” to David Millar elaborating a bit further with his tweet, “Congratulations @cooksonforuci, or should I say, Mr.President. Please, tell Hein Verbruggen he's no longer welcome in the building.” Imagine the scene from the Wizard of OZ when everyone is dancing around singing, “ding dong the witch is dead” and you get the point. And yes, Hein Verbruggen is a flying monkey in this metaphor.
While this is a potentially exciting time in cycling let’s keep our emotions in check a bit. Cookson isn’t some new guy brought in because he can clean house. Cookson was a member of the UCI board during all the dirty days and never spoke up against McQuaid until he threw his hat into the presidential ring. Not to say he was meeting in dark underground parking garages to clandestinely receive cash payouts, but he wasn’t exactly fighting against McQuaid either.
Regardless, this is a new time in the sport - hopefully. Cookson has a lot of work in front of him to restore confidence in the UCI. Some pressing issues are as follows: To address women’s cycling in a serious manner. McQuaid had made some insensitive comments that women’s cycling didn’t deserve a minimum wage because it hadn’t matured. There’s also the matter of how do we clean up the ongoing doping issues. Cookson has called for a “truth and reconciliation” meeting and has invited Armstrong if this meeting ever takes place. Would the disgraced cyclist be able