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European cycling backs Cookson in UCI election

September 15, 2013

ZURICH (AP) — British challenger Brian Cookson won official backing Sunday from European cycling leaders in his election campaign to unseat International Cycling Union president Pat McQuaid.

The European Cycling Union (UEC) said its members voted 27-10 to instruct their delegates to support Cookson in the Sept. 27 poll in Florence, Italy.

Cookson and McQuaid made speeches to a UEC special meeting before the mandate vote.

“There was a real appetite for change to help restore the credibility of the UCI and I am confident of building on the support of the UEC and federations from around the world,” Cookson said in a statement.

Europe has 14 voting delegates in a secret ballot of the 42-member UCI electoral college that will choose the next president.

With a simple majority of 22 votes required for victory, Cookson now has pledges from Europe and Oceania and further support from North America. McQuaid can likely count on votes from Africa and Asia.

Cookson, the longtime British Cycling president, is pledging to rebuild cycling’s image and governance after the Lance Armstrong doping affair.

McQuaid is seeking a third four-year term amid widespread criticism of the Irish official and UCI’s handling of doping allegations.

It remains unclear if McQuaid has a valid nomination to be a candidate. Federations in his home country Ireland and Switzerland, where he lives, withdrew support.

McQuaid claims valid nominations from Thailand and Morocco, but those would only be legitimate if amendments to UCI rules are passed in a vote in Florence.

Malaysia wants to retroactively allow any two federations to propose a candidate. Barbados and Turkey suggest that incumbent presidents should have an automatic right to stand for re-election.

Still, European delegates also voted Sunday to oppose late rules changes at the election congress.

“I am also very pleased that the UEC has voted so strongly against amending the rules of the election retrospectively,” Cookson said.

Cookson pledged that, even if he was the only candidate eligible on election day, he would accept the presidency only if he achieved the majority of 22 votes.

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