McQuaid Ousted as Cycling Leader After Armstrong Scandal

Brian Cookson of the U.K. was elected president of cycling’s ruling body, ousting incumbent Pat McQuaid, after vowing to clean up the sport’s image following the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.

Cookson, 62, beat McQuaid of Ireland by 24 to 18 in a vote by Union Cycliste Internationale executives in Florence, Italy, according to an e-mailed statement from British Cycling. Cookson has led British Cycling since 1997 and sat on the UCI management committee since 2009.

McQuaid replaced Hein Verbruggen as head of the Aigle, Switzerland-based UCI in 2005 and adopted blood-profiling of cyclists in 2008, a method that track and field and tennis have followed. Neither Verbruggen nor McQuaid did enough to catch cheating by Armstrong from 1999 to 2005, according to Greg LeMond and other former riders.

McQuaid needed support from national federations in Thailand and Morocco to endorse his bid for re-election after his home nation of Ireland, and Switzerland, where he lives, refused to support him.

Cookson said in his election manifesto he wants a “completely independent” anti-doping unit at the UCI to help restore trust in cycling’s ruling body. He promised more transparency, including publishing his financial interests and salary.

Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France wins by the UCI last October following a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency investigation that used affidavits by several former teammates to prove he doped. At the time, McQuaid said the UCI had had limited powers to uncover what he called a “sophisticated” doping regime on the American’s teams.

Truth and Reconciliation

In January, McQuaid, 64, disbanded an external commission set up to review its handling of Armstrong’s career, saying a better way to “clear the air” was to create a truth and reconciliation panel to study cycling’s past.

Cookson told L’Equipe newspaper yesterday he wants to reinstate the external review and introduce a “partial” amnesty in cycling whereby riders who have doped get reduced sanctions to encourage them to confess.

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