Brian Cookson

Week 4 (28 September - 4 October 2013)

The new president of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), Brian Cookson, is not a natural public speaker but he is pragmatic, a quality which came to the fore at the UCI's Annual Congress in Florence last Friday.

During a lengthy and inconclusive debate about whether presidential rival Pat McQuaid was eligible to stand for re-election, Cookson seized control of proceedings and with it the initiative.

"We've had enough of this," declared Cookson. "I'm going to propose we go straight to the vote between the two candidates."

Bare-faced honesty is unusual in tense political moments. But Cookson's words showed him to be a man of action, which may have swung him a few more votes - potentially crucial votes given his margin of victory was 24 to 18.

The current perception of cycling's governing body within the media is that action is something in short supply. Journalists seeking to elicit this point further refer to the Armstrong affair, often presenting it as proof that the UCI's doping controllers were asleep at the wheel for over a decade.

Yet Cookson's interjection in Florence, and his first week as president, suggest the 62-year-old will be decisive in office. Within 24 hours of his election victory he delivered on his first promise of appointing three vice-presidents. The Yorkshireman says his next step will be to "get down to the hard work of restoring the credibility and image of the sport. The first thing we are going to do is make a call to the World Anti-Doping Agency."

To satisfy the media, action will need to follow relatively quickly but Cookson has already shown he is not a man to delay.

Photo: Corbis