El Presidente


This Saturday sees a very strange event, not just the normal abnormality of a Scottish Cycling AGM, but it also includes a contest, we actually have more than one candidate for SC President!

For many years, the tradition for each bearer of the President’s role is to attempt to get rid of it, to suggest they stand down, only to get mocked & persuaded to continue for “just one more year”. Jock Shaw was the master of this, even suggesting at one AGM that he would stand down if the calendar wasn’t published on time, yes, the SC calendar which has never been published on time (he didn’t stand down, when the expected turn of events repeated itself).

The SC President’s role is a tough one, more so in the current climate, where you’re expected to fill a voluntary role alongside the salaried SC executive(s). You have to love the sport to take on a role like that, plus you may realise that you’ve set yourself up, put yourself in the firing line of the (normally) irate membership to take a pop at. The SC executive(s) don’t bat an eyelid at criticism, see the Governance Review for evidence of that, many of the potential fixes to the issues highlighted in that have maybe been talked about, but not necessarily actioned. The President will take some of the heat for that from the membership, even though it wasn’t their doing, but this is how our sport works, minor squabbling with those who’ll listen & ignoring those who don’t appear to care. It should be the other way about?

The major issue with the President’s role is that it may not actually carry much weight in real terms, no matter how hard el Presidente tries to make a difference. As I’ve pointed out in Sport V Funding, the sport is no longer volunteer or membership led, its guidance comes from funding, not experience & knowledge of cycling. I’ve drifted in & out of caring about who is SC president the last two weeks, but having swathered, considered sending them all questions or open twitter questioning, I’ve come to the conclusion that whoever wins the vote on Saturday has a huge opportunity.

The opportunity is to find a way to allow the knowledgable people back into influential positions, where the executive(s) will listen to them & not discount them. The trick is to reach a point where everybody benefits, where the funding is secure, a new direction can be found which leads to a development plan which ticks the funding boxes & appeases the masses of disgruntled cyclists, club members & volunteers, who feel more like a number than a person. This is a huge opportunity for change, for the better, for everybody.

The Candidates

So lets look at who we’ve got, fortunately the Edinburgh Road Club have posted some of the propaganda material on their website, so I’ll link to that.

Kathy Gilchrist – PDF Link HERE

Alasdair MacLennan – PFD Link HERE

Richard Davison – Blog Link HERE

We have some historic info on the candidates there, plus Davison has a couple of pages of blogs, which are quite interesting, especially the one referencing what may have been going on within the board to stop certain board-members standing, worth a read before you vote. Obviously, I like a blog approach (especially as this blog gets a mention), but the more traditional flyer type info still has its place, it’s all valid campaigning. I didn’t link the absolutely blatant propaganda flyer sent to clubs from one candidate, a “look who my pals are” which could have been straight from Pat McQuaid, a bad move in the current climate, regardless of intention.

The Jist Of It

From this blogs point of view, what we’re looking for is somebody who will stand up for sport & force change. The change we’re after isn’t one-sided, compromises have to be made, but it’s gone too far in the way of funding, while forgetting about the sport. For Scottish Cycling to become the strong organisation we all want, the sport has to start taking centre stage again, but in a manner in which we can demonstrate growth & development can occur in line with funding targets. This will re-engage the people with passion for the sport, freeing up their hard-earned spare time, to be given back to the sport the volunteers love to support. Lets elect a candidate who’s willing to take a stand, you’ve got a great choice there, I’m still undecided, choice forces stronger opinions & it looks like they’ve all upped their game. Choose wisely & hopefully we’ll have a better, happier & more sport orientated governing body in the very near future.

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Brian-Storm II

In June I wrote Brian-Storm, it’s now seriously out of date, so here’s my thoughts on the current situation, without going into too much detail.

*See update at bottom of post, my opinion may be changing.

Brian Cookson is under severe pressure to come up with ideas to reform cycling in all areas, women’s cycling, mountain biking, anti-doping, pro cycling. But are we trying to ask too much from him, before he’s got anywhere near being the presidential suite in Aigle?


If we look back to what happened at the BCF many years ago, which emerged from the flames as British Cycling after the chaos that erupted from Tony Doyle ‘blowing the bloody doors off’ debacle, legal threats in both directions, litigation etc. We emerged from that with a completely different organisation, Cookson wasn’t an instigator in the initial clean-up, but he became the administrator of it in his long  tenure as BC president, he found ways to help the change take place.

From what I can see, Cookson isn’t perhaps the ideas man that he currently being pressured to be, he’s likely a very good administrator & talent spotter. This is why I’d like to see him as president of the UCI, it’s obvious that we have little or no choice on the matter now, with the Pat V Brian thing, but without the emergence of a charismatic Spanish or Italian nominee, we are left with an election of (possibly) two potential Presidents, they are chalk & cheese. I think Brian can provide us with a solution for the current time period, a catalyst for huge change within the UCI, similar to that he oversaw during the metamorphosis of British Cycling, from small time minority sports federation, to a world leading model in a successful & professional sports body.

I’ve had occasional chats to Cookson, nothing mind-blowing in those chats, but as everybody says, you can tell he’s an honest man, somebody with integrity, as far as you can gauge from a brief chat. But the overall impression is that you get what you see. This is perhaps Brian’s biggest skill, he’s comfortable speaking to people, which afterwards you realised that he asked you some probing questions, which you realised you answered in a matter of fact manner. I’m assuming that he operates in this manner in more important matters on an international level, gathering information & choosing which questions need answered. Perhaps this is how he’s managed to employ the people with the ideas that have moved the sport in the UK forward, he can identify what’s needed, seek out the people with the ideas required to change an organisation, then recruit them & utilise their skills & ideas to help move things forward.

Anybody but Pat!

It’s often seen as a case of anybody but Pat McQuaid, some saying that we have just one poor choice. But I see Brian Cookson as the best person to instigate change, the questions over ideas will play second fiddle to the revelations that he will uncover if elected, the current cartel are protecting something. If there is something ‘profitable’ worth protecting, we could see a UCI with more of that profit freed up to allow the good projects to take place. But to make that happen, we need a good administrator, somebody who can understand the documents, dare I say it, perhaps somebody perceived to be a little bit boring?

After the deeds of the past are uncovered, we can then move into the new era of a modernised UCI, if it goes through a tiny percentage of the change that took place at British Cycling, then in a few years time we’ll have one of the best sporting governing bodies in the world. After that we can have the flamboyant leader, but we need the talented individuals in place to monitor the UCI first, Cookson can put those people in place & get back to Lancashire, I expect he’ll want to do that as quickly as possible.

*Update : Brian Cookson made a new statement today, quite a misguided one in my opinion. He’s implying that the treatment of Armstrong is unfair & he may try to reduce his ban! I had no actual evidence of McQuaids claims that Cookson was being financially supported by ‘the Russians’, so didn’t jump on that bandwaggon & went with what I did know. If there’s unwanted leniency for somebody like Armstrong being thrown up as some strange carrot for countries votes, this really isn’t what I want to see. If things carry on in this manner, the best outcome could be that Cookson is the only candidate, then does still not gain a sufficient amount of the vote, which he says he would pusue. So if that happened, we could in theory, have a completely new UCI election with some new candidates who didn’t come forward previously. That way we could get a proper election out of this, with a series of viable candidtates, and Pat McQuaid. Cookson Story.

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In January I wrote ‘Where Would We Be Without The UCI’, in which we looked at a cycling world without the UCI governance, that after a series of scandals we needed structure, so a reformed UCI would likely be better than a completely new governing body. It seems that tomorrow Brian Cookson will present himself as a candidate, running against Switzerland’s famous international rule breaking former cyclist, Pat McQuaid.

Who’s Who

Pat McQuaid, the Irishman who is now domiciled in Switzerland where the UCI are based. He has gained nomination in a roundabout way for the next term, reputedly from the Swiss federation rather than the Irish federation,the latter who had called an emergency meeting to discuss the matter after concerns were raised by the members. The Swiss are also calling a meeting to discuss their nomination too, so it looks like somebody will nominate the former PE teacher somehow. Those who criticize Pat McQuaid would have to consider that he is a decorated international sports prize winner for his good work, in 2008 he was awarded the accolade of ‘Commander in the Order of the Ivory Coast Sporting Merit‘. He has also been Irish Road Champion & is banned for life from Olympic competition (doesn’t stop him hanging medals at Olympic prizegivings though) for racing in apartheid South Africa under a false name.

Brian Cookson has not had the same racing career as McQuaid, but has organised many events in the UK. While Pat was getting plaudits in Africa, Brian Cookson was awarded an OBE in the 2008 honours list for his work as President of British Cycling. I don’t actually have any dirt on Cookson, I’ve met him a few times & he comes across as an honest & open guy. He retired in March from an administrative career in local government, so I think you can guess who my preferred candidate is, the qualified one without any sporting convictions would get my vote for UCI president out of the two.

How voting works

The winner of a presidential election must simply have the majority of votes, not a required percentage. Each Continental Confederation has a certain number of votes, I’ve copied article 36 of the UCI constitution below.

Article 36

1. Members shall exercise their voting rights through the agency of voting delegates appointed among each continental confederation. Each delegate must be a member of a federation of the continental confederation concerned.

2. The total number of voting delegates shall be 42 distributed among continental confederations

as follows:

Africa: 7 delegates

America: 9 delegates

Asia: 9 delegates

Europe: 14 delegates

Oceania: 3 delegates

3. Each voting delegate shall have one vote.

Possible Scenarios

McQuaid may not get nominated, if that’s the case then if there’s only one nomination they automatically become President. Otherwise Cookson being nominated may open the floodgates of pretenders to the throne from various nations who all want influence, Spain had a failed attempt to place a UCI President a few years ago, so this could become a battle for power over cycling & its future. Whatever happens, it’s going to be a very interesting time for cycling, it could really go any way from here.