FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Brian Cookson isn’t wasting any time. Less than 24 hours after winning the UCI election, the new president made moves that will set the tone for his administration.
On Saturday, Cookson appointed three new vice presidents, and reaffirmed his position to change the course of world cycling’s governing body.
“We’re going to take the UCI in a new direction,” Cookson said Saturday. “I won’t have all of the answers to everything within a few days but we certainly can start this journey in the right place.”
In one of his first moves as president, Cookson named three new vice presidents; David Lappartient from France, president of the European Cycling Union; Mohamed Azzam, from Egypt, president of the African confederation; and Tracey Gaudry, president of the Oceania confederation.
They replace Hee Wook Cho of Korea; Renato Di Rocco of Italy; and Artur Lopes of Portugal.
“We have, for the first time, I think, a woman in an important role in the UCI,” Cookson said. “I have a lot of confidence in all of those three people and I’m sure we can really move forward now and take the UCI in that new direction.”
Cookson swept to power in Friday’s gripping presidential election, held during the UCI Congress at the Palazzo Vecchio in central Florence. The Brit won the vote 24-18 to end Pat McQuaid’s bid for a third four-year term.
Cookson said he believes the vote of confidence comes with a mandate for change in the tone and direction of the international cycling federation.
“There’s a lot of work to do and some tough decisions to be made,” Cookson said. “I’ve got the support and authority of all of my friends and colleagues from all around the world. I think it will be actually not easy to make a new start but I will have a lot of support and I’m absolutely looking forward to mobilizing that support to make the changes we all know need to be made.”
Cookson vowed to reach out to important constituents, such as the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency. One of the key points of his electoral platform is to create an independent anti-doping body for cycling.
Cookson also said he will explore a possible amnesty program, but seemed to distance himself from suggestions of creating a breakaway racing league.
“I’ve said on many occasions that I think the way forward for our sport is to develop around the existing culture and heritage of our sport — the grand tours, the monuments, the classics and so on,” he said.
“That doesn’t mean we can’t develop cycling elsewhere around the globe. We’ve got to do that but in ways that are appropriate but in ways that are appropriate to those parts of the globe, not just imposing a European pro model on the rest of the world, but to try and grow cycling organically from the bottom upwards and help.”
Cookson also vowed to work to help promote women’s cycling, and said his appointment of Gaudry is already a step in the right direction.
“We will also establish a women’s commission to look in much more detail how we can make this happen,” he said. “I don’t want to give an off-the-cuff response to that. I want to get that women’s commission, which Tracey will chair, get that under way, and get them working together very productively and supportively.”