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In first public statement as UCI president, Cookson makes more changes

  • By Andrew Hood
  • Published Oct. 11, 2013
Brian Cookson is in China for the Tour of Beijing, the final event on the UCI WorldTour. Photo: Graham Watson | www.grahamwatson.com

New UCI president Brian Cookson continues to make behind-the-scenes changes as he takes over the helm of cycling’s governing body.

In his first official statement since being elected more than two weeks ago, Cookson confirmed the departure of director general Christophe Hubschmid. That comes on the heels of the exit of longtime legal counsel Philippe Verbiest.

Cookson appointed Antonio Rigozzi, a Swiss lawyer with extensive experience as a sport arbitrator who helped in the Alberto Contador defense, as a new external legal counsel.

Cookson also confirmed that he is in contact with the World Anti-Doping Agency to, according to a press release, “plan how we will proceed with the independent investigation into the UCI’s past.” Cookson also reached out to Irish journalist Paul Kimmage to confirm the UCI has “withdrawn from legal action against him.”

Cookson also revoked an existing age limit for women’s teams and promised to form a new commission to spur the growth of women’s cycling.

“It’s been a busy time but very constructive and I am grateful to all the support I have received from the cycling family in setting out on this new path,” Cookson said.

The full statement:

These early days are very important for the UCI. We have embarked on the process of implementing our manifesto commitments so that we can re-establish our International Federation’s reputation and make it the best and most respected in the world. I believe that we have made a good start.

In Florence, the cycling family clearly demonstrated its desire for change. Not only in voting me as President, but also in electing three excellent Vice-Presidents, including the first woman to occupy this position, as well as a high-quality Management Committee. And we have quickly got down to work.

We have appointed most of the new Presidents of the UCI Commissions and I’m delighted to welcome them to their posts.

We have started the work of establishing a high level dialogue with WADA to plan how we will proceed with the independent investigation into the UCI’s past. We have also been making contact with other key stakeholders in this area, including USADA, other national anti-doping organisations and the French Sports Ministry. And earlier this week I called Paul Kimmage to tell him that the UCI has withdrawn from the legal action against him.

We have also confirmed the decision to revoke the age limit of 28 that existed for UCI Women’s Teams and to form a new Commission for women’s cycling to help facilitate the growth of women’s elite racing.

On the issue of UCI staffing, the day after the World Championships, one of my Vice-Presidents, Tracey Gaudry, and I travelled directly to Aigle to meet with the UCI staff and it was a pleasure to meet the many excellent and talented people at the UCI. However, some changes are needed and I can confirm that former Director General Christophe Hubschmid has left the UCI and that Antonio Rigozzi of Levy Kaufmann-Kohler is now assisting us as external legal counsel. I would like to thank Christophe for his contribution to the UCI and wish him well for the future. I would also like to thank our previous legal counsel Philippe Verbiest for his many years of hard work and commitment to the UCI.

Over the coming weeks I am looking forward to meeting with my friends and colleagues in the Olympic movement, including the new IOC President, Thomas Bach, and Rio 2016 President, Carlos Nuzman. And last week in Switzerland I met with Andrew Ryan, Executive Director of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations.

An extraordinary Management Committee meeting will take place on 29 October where we shall assess our progress in implementing my Manifesto pledges and plan for the important period ahead of us. This meeting will be held at the UCI’s headquarters in order that the staff can meet the new Management Committee.

It’s been a busy time but very constructive and I am grateful to all the support I have received from the cycling family in setting out on this new path.

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Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood cut his journalistic teeth at Colorado dailies before the web boom opened the door to European cycling in the mid-1990s. Hood has covered every Tour de France since 1996 and has been VeloNews' European correspondent since 2002.

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