Cookson set to challenge Pat McQuaid for UCI presidency
British Cycling supremo Brian Cookson has announced he will stand as a candidate for president of the Union Cycliste Internationale.
Irishman Pat McQuaid has led cycling's world governing body since 2006 and has come under pressure of late following his handling of Lance Armstrong's doping saga.
Elections will take place at the UCI's annual congress in Florence in September.
Cookson, 61, who has been president of British Cycling for 16 years, said: "I am today announcing that I am standing as a candidate for the Presidency of the UCI.
"I have the full support and nomination of my home federation, British Cycling, and I respectfully ask for the support of the national cycling federations of the world and the whole international cycling family.
"I am not doing this lightly as I know how much needs to be done.
"When I became the President of British Cycling in 1996, the Federation was deeply troubled and close to bankruptcy. Since that time cycling in my country has been transformed beyond recognition. Many wonderful people have helped this process, motivated by a passion to do the best for cycling, and I have been proud to lead them.
"This transformation has been achieved, above all, by creating a well run, stable federation governed on the principles of honesty, transparency and clear divisions of responsibility. These principles are even more important for an international federation."
Cookson admitted that a desire to "restore cycling's credibility" in the wake of the doping scandals that have beset it lies behind his decision to stand.
He said: "Many good things have happened in our sport around the world in recent years, and I am proud that British cyclists and British events such as London 2012 have played their part in showing what a superb sport we have in cycling, in all its diversity.
"But the passion I and many others have for cycling cannot hide the fact that our international body, the UCI, remains hugely distracted, continuing to flounder in waves of damaging historical controversies.
"For far too many people our sport is associated with doping, with decisions that are made behind closed doors and with ceaseless conflicts with important members of the cycling family and other key stakeholders.
"This situation is deeply damaging for our sport, and it has severely compromised the UCI's ability to develop and communicate some of the good work that is happening across the world."
Cookson continued: "The stakeholder consultation exercise held this year by the UCI has clearly demonstrated that there are many excellent aspects to the UCI, with much good work underway, but all of this has been severely compromised by the widespread absence of confidence in the integrity of the organisation.
"Against this backdrop, and after careful consideration, I have decided to stand for the Presidency of the UCI. This is because I passionately believe that the UCI needs to embrace a new way of doing things, and address, head on, some of the critical challenges facing our sport.
"We must restore cycling's credibility. The first priority for the new UCI president must be to change the way that anti doping is managed so that people can have confidence in the sport. We must also urgently carry out a fully independent investigation into the allegations of corruption in this area which have so damaged the UCI's reputation."
The UCI was implicated in the Armstrong doping scandal by the US Anti-Doping Agency and was criticised by the World Anti-Doping Agency when an independent panel that it established to examine its own alleged complicity was disbanded before it could report.
Cookson will clearly be keen to build bridges with WADA if his bid for the UCI presidency is successful.
"Cycling is not the only sport with problems but if we don't have a sport that parents can send their children to with absolute confidence then we are failing," he said.
"If elected I will devote myself to rebuilding relations with WADA and establishing with them a completely independent body to deal with anti-doping in cycling so that no-one can doubt that it is being tackled without fear or favour. I will also seek their full co-operation in the independent investigation into the UCI's past.
"In the next few weeks, I will publish my manifesto, which will outline clear recommendations to tackle the future challenges for our sport, as well as specific policies to address those problems from the past that still haunt us today.
"More broadly, I want to see a UCI whose culture and way of doing things is defined by openness, transparency, and a commitment to more collegiate decision making.
"We need to work for the good of cycling globally, and not protect vested interests, wherever they may lie. The best way we can achieve this is to be much more open on how we operate and make decisions. In essence, my manifesto will outline how I would build trust in the UCI, and what our vision should be, for the future.
"I believe that I have a strong and proven track record in delivering positive change in cycling, and in a way that is collegiate - not confrontational - as my time as president of British Cycling shows. It is this style of approach that I want to bring to the UCI.
"I would be truly honoured to be elected UCI President, but I also understand the magnitude of the challenges we face. If successful in my campaign, I will do all in my powers to turn my vision of a more open and modern UCI into reality, in full partnership with all the other stakeholders in the sport we love."