Australia backs Englishman to take over from McQuaid as UCI chief

Cycling Australia will vote for Englishman Brian Cookson to become president of the world governing body, rather than support the re-election of Ireland’s Pat McQuaid.

CA’s position was decided on Sunday after the CA board heard an address from Cookson in person in Sydney on Saturday morning, then held a teleconference with McQuaid in the afternoon.

The vote in favour of Cookson was unanimous, CA president Klaus Mueller told Fairfax Media on Monday. Ten out of 11 board members had attended the meeting, which extended into Sunday.

Mueller, who announced on Saturday that he would stand down as CA president at the end of September, said it was likely that Oceania’s collective position would be the same.

The Union Cycliste Internationale presidency will be voted on by the UCI Congress at the world road titles in Italy next month. Of 42 votes, Oceania’s three go to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. “We are supporting Cookson. It was unanimous with all [CA] board members present,” Mueller said.

Cookson, who arrived in Sydney on Friday, is on a world tour to garner support for his candidacy, in an election fight that has seen McQuaid remain defiant in his efforts to be re-elected despite growing calls for him to step aside following the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.

In a tight vote, the support of Australia, New Zealand and Fiji could be critical for Cookson, British Cycling president, or McQuaid, who no longer has the nomination of Ireland or Switzerland, but is still seeking nomination of the Moroccan and Thai federations through his membership with them.

Mueller said there were two key points in Cookson’s address that convinced the CA board he was better suited to be UCI president than McQuaid, who has held the post since 2006.

“We felt [Cookson] was in a better position to restore the reputation and integrity of the UCI and the sport internationally,” Mueller said. “Also he agreed he would do everything in his power to improve the governance structures, to make those more accountable and efficient and reflect what a modern sporting body should look like.”

Mueller said CA believes the UCI structure should be changed to comprise a president and board that works on creating policy and another board that implements policy and runs the sport.

“We think the system of having the president also performing an executive role is a flawed system,” Mueller said. “There ought to be a president and board to provide the policy framework. And there out to be a separate executive administering that framework.

“Pat did not agree, [he] didn’t consider that sort of reform appropriate; whereas Brian Cookson was of the view that there needs to be that change. Like all bodies, whether he can get that through is another challenge, but at least he is committed to doing his utmost to implement those changes.”

Mueller is confident the collective voice of the Oceania region will reflect CA’s position at the election.

Asked if he has a gauge of where New Zealand and Fiji stand on the presidential issue, Mueller said: “Yes … they can speak for themselves and they will ultimately. But I am confident in the discussions we had that [CA’s position] will be the unanimous position of Oceania.”

Mueller said CA plans to inform McQuaid of its position “as quickly as possible” because “we did have a good relationship with Pat as well …”

Mueller also said his decision to quit CA presidency was unrelated to the UCI presidential issue.

Twitter: @rupertguinness

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