Sir Chris Hoy and Sebastian Coe have thrown their weight behind British Cycling chairman Brian Cookson’s bid to become president of the UCI, the sport’s world governing body.
Coe, head of the British Olympic Association, has written to all UCI federation chiefs expressing his support for Cookson, who is challenging the incumbent Pat McQuaid from Ireland in an election that has already become a bitter contest.
Hoy, the six-times Olympic cycling champion, has meanwhile said Cookson would be a “fantastic president” to take the sport into a new era.
The BOA said in a statement: “Brian Cookson has contributed enormously to the sport of cycling in the UK over the past 15 years, both in helping to deliver international success and growing the sport at the grassroots and community levels.
“We believe that Brian would make an excellent UCI president, provide real leadership in the international arena and help rebuild trust and credibility in the sport of cycling internationally.
“BOA chairman Seb Coe has recently written to each of the UCI confederation presidents to express the BOA’s full support for Brian’s bid to lead the UCI, and we will continue to support him all the way through to the election, where we hope he will be successful.”
The election comes against the background of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal which blew up 12 months ago, and led to criticism of the UCI’s handling of the allegations, both during McQuaid’s time as president and before .
Hoy said Cookson was the right man to take the sport into a new era.
He said: “Brian Cookson has put his hat in the ring and I think he would be a fantastic president for the UCI. Brian is a cyclist himself, he’s very passionate about listening to the riders, listening to their views and improving all areas that can be improved.
“We’ve come to the end of an era that we’re glad to see the back of in the sport, but it’s not entirely over and a lot of work needs to be done to make cycling the way we want it to be, and Brian is the right person to make those changes.”
The election contest is still in dispute after McQuaid failed to attract a nomination from either his home country Ireland or Switzerland, where he lives. He now wants the UCI Congress to vote in a rule change to allow him to be nominated by Thailand and Morocco.
A number of federations, including the United States and Russia, have asked for the UCI to take the dispute to the Court of Arbitration for Sport for a decision on whether that should be permitted. The UCI has so far not responded to that request.