Brian Cookson – UCI's days of crises are a distant memory
By Brian Cookson, President of Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI)
Cycling has made tremendous progress over the past four years and the days of us lurching from one crisis to another are a distant memory.
Cycling was broken. Our relationships were broken with fans, sponsors, the IOC, WADA and the media.
Someone had to show leadership, to stand up, bring the Cycling Family together and say ‘things have to change.’ I was prepared to put my head above the parapet where no one else dared.
Where there was once shame, now there is pride; where there was once controversy, now there is integrity and transparency; where there were vested interests, now there is inclusivity.
When I was elected in 2013, I pledged to change the UCI. And I am proud that now, three and half years later, I am the UCI President who led the process of rebuilding the reputation of our sport, by restoring the integrity of its International Federation.
I organised a robust, transparent and independent inquiry into the UCI’s past and published the results of that inquiry – the CIRC Report – in full, and implemented its recommendations to ensure that our sport could not repeat the mistakes of the past.
I also adopted a robust new Code of Ethics fully in line with international best practice, with an Ethics Commission made up of a majority of respected professionals outside of cycling.
We now have a fully transparent and comprehensive financial Annual Report and, in fact, we are one of the very first International Federations to make ourselves compliant with strict new Swiss accounting rules.
No longer are we mired in doping controversies and I am proud that instead of fighting against WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, they are now one of our strongest partners and we are regarded as a model for other Federations.
It was important that we established a Women’s Commission and ensured that more women are involved throughout the UCI’s activities after the shortcomings of the previous regime and I am delighted by the progress we have made.
All this work to restore the UCI’s credibility and image has enabled important progress on so many other fronts.
We signed an eight-year TV deal with the European Broadcast Union and IMG to ensure much better coverage for our events across the world and our TV revenue is almost 50% higher in 2017 than in 2013.
All of this progress has opened us up to massive new audiences and is at the same time driving huge growth in participation levels in the sport and pastime of cycling.
Our sponsorship revenues have also risen by a third compared to 2013 and that, in turn, has helped us to expand our competition programmes.
The UCI WorldTour has become a true world tour with the addition of races in America, the Middle-East, China and Australia, as well as bringing in some key events in Europe.
We have created the UCI Women’s WorldTour with 47 days of racing across 10 countries – three times as many race days as the old World Cup which it replaced.
By integrating an entirely new discipline, BMX Freestyle Park, we have secured a place in Buenos Aires for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games.
We have also gone from being pariahs in the Olympic Movement under threat from being removed from the Olympic Programme to securing four more events for Tokyo 2020, making cycling the third biggest sport in the Games.
And our own flagship event, the Road World Championships, are now coming back to Europe for at least the next three years.
I’m proud that the UCI, under my Presidency, has more than doubled its investment in the Continental Confederations and National Federations and we will invest another one million Swiss Francs into the Continental Confederations between 2016 and 2018.
We have also increased our investment in the UCI World Cycling Centre to over $3 million a year, way beyond the scale of investment many other federations are able to commit to.
The Cycling Family is now united, but we still have more to do and that is why I am seeking to serve a second term as UCI president.
I’m standing not because of personal ambition. I’m standing because there is more to be done at the UCI – and because our Federation needs stability, integrity and a period of further calm and continuity to build on the successes of the past four years.
These are exciting times for our sport and it’s crucial that we continue to grasp all the opportunities that are out there for us.
My six-point plan will drive growth across all of cycling’s disciplines, accelerate our international development, champion cycling for transport and leisure, ensure there is equal opportunity for men and women to participate and compete, build on our restored credibility and ensure the UCI continues to drive excellence in our operations.
The UCI I hope to continue to lead will be respected and a source of inspiration to all who love our wonderful sport. A UCI that provides opportunity, innovation and excitement for everyone, from all the five continents, across all cycling's disciplines.
* Calacus is working with Brian Cookson on his campaign for re-election as UCI Preisdent