Brian Cookson ran on a platform of independent testing and transparency, and it earned him the presidency of the UCI, ending the reign of Pat McQuaid.
First on his list, he said, was a truth-telling panel. Also a very high priority, at least during the election season, was an independent approach to drug testing that would take the testing role out of the UCI’s hands and place it in the realm of an independent body, quelling concerns over the promotion of the sport and its policing.
In the wake of its reasoned decision last year, The United States Anti-Doping Agency called for a truth commission — a sort of agreement in which those with knowledge of the performance-enhancing drug culture that enshrouded pro cycling would be treated leniently for their testimonies. USADA is also ready to assist in efforts to shift drug testing away from the UCI, should it be asked to do so.
“We’ve had the best, good faith, honest discussions that we’ve had with the UCI since I’ve first had discussions with them, which goes back to 2001,” USADA CEO Travis Tygart said. Tygart also said he was “overly hopeful” that the bodies could work together as far as testing at events, and the “open and honest” sharing of information.
During this year’s Tour de France, Cookson told VeloNews he would work to facilitate independent testing in the event he won the presidency, in hopes of fostering more confidence in the sport.
“We’ve got to have this independent structure that manages anti-doping, every aspect of anti-doping in our sport. If we don’t have that, then we’re not going to make progress. Once we do have that, and people can have the confidence that the people who are trying to develop the sport, that the people who are trying to promote the sport, are not the same people who are governing the anti-doping issue, then I think we can start to move forward,” Cookson said. “But I hate it when I see people criticizing the performances of people who I hope and believe are clean.
“But it doesn’t matter what I think. What matters is what the public thinks. What the cycling fans think. And to me, the real thing we’ve got to establish is real credibility in our anti-doping processes, and that’s got to be independent.”