I am proud of the achievements made since my election in 2013. One of my key promises was a more open and transparent UCI . Our annual report, now in accordance with the highest Swiss accounting standards, contains much more information than previously and is released earlier than before. It serves as an excellent record of all the achievements that we have made together over the last four years. Via this link or on the UCI website you can view each of those reports, giving a detailed view of the multi-discipline, multi-facetted, complex ecosystem that is the world of cycling and the UCI.
Another key promise I made was to prioritise the restoration of the UCI’s credibility – an absolutely essential step, given the disastrous state of our reputation at the time. The period leading up to the 2013 elections was a very difficult one, with accusations of serious wrongdoing concerning anti-doping and a presidential election weighed down by controversies.
I addressed those allegations head-on and ensured that a highly respected team of completely independent professionals, the Cycling Independent Reform Commission, investigated them thoroughly. Their report, published on time and on budget, was published in full and its recommendations acted upon.
I worked very quickly to rebuild relations with the World Anti Doping Agency at every level – Presidential and operational – and have ensured that we are a highly trusted partner within the anti-doping community, with agreements in place with numerous National Anti Doping Organisations to exchange information to make our work more efficient.
One of my first decisions as President was to commission a full independent audit of our anti-doping operations by the Institute of National Anti Doping Organisations. Following that audit and the subsequent changes made, we now have an anti-doping structure regarded as a model for other federations, led by the fully independent Cycling Anti Doping Foundation to which we have delegated responsibility for all testing and investigations.
There is now no possibility of any conflicts of interest between our role of developing and governing the sport, and the role of policing it in this most important way. Neither I nor any other member of the UCI Management Committee has any role in the CADF and we cannot interfere in its activities in any way – a model which the IOC and WADA are now pursuing for all sports.
Our work in this area has been extensive. Other examples of the positive changes we have put in place are the creation of the independent Anti Doping Tribunal to ensure consistency and transparency, also close to halving the time taken to deal with cases, and the complete overhaul of the process for granting Therapeutic Use Exemption Certificates (TUEs), now co-ordinated by the CADF and requiring unanimity amongst an independent panel of three doctors.
On my broader commitments to credibility and governance I am proud to have overseen a complete revision of the UCI Constitution. We are now one of the first international sporting federations to have term limits for its president and we have a more equal distribution of voting representation. The election process has now been clearly defined and structures put in place to ensure it is transparent and robust.
We now have a new, comprehensive, and far-reaching Ethics Code, and an Ethics Commission made up largely of people who are completely independent of cycling. To ensure that athletes are properly represented I have made a complete change to the Athletes’ Commission, the members of which are now directly elected by their peers at the World Championships. We have at least one athlete on every commission and the President of the Athletes Commission sits on the UCI Management Committee.
Technological and digital progress
I promised to be a forward-looking President and to embrace change. When I was elected the UCI’s website was outdated and incompatible with how most people use it - on their phones. We had almost no social media presence. That has been transformed and we now have a fan base of 2 million, with tremendous unique content at our events to drive audience engagement.
In the past four years we have brought on-board cameras into the racing of our road and track World Championships and more broadly we have changed the image of the UCI as regards technology. We are no longer seen by the cycle industry as a conservative barrier to change but as a governing body that wants to enable development, whilst of course retaining the basic principles and primacy of human athletic performance.
Our co-operative relationship with the industry has also been key in developing the systems we now employ to check large numbers of bikes at races for technological fraud. Where before the UCI had no rules governing this, nor any significant detection plans, we now have clear rules and sanctions coupled with efficient and widely deployed methods of detection.
We have looked closely at all our disciplines to make the changes necessary to make them as engaging as possible to fans. Significant rule changes have been implemented in BMX and Track where we have also made major changes to the structure of the World Cup. The integration of BMX Freestyle and the establishment of the UCI Urban World Championships are examples of our readiness to change and modernise.
Another significant success in modernisation was the changes we made to the UCI Hour Record, which had stagnated for many years. We simplified the rules in 2014 and since then we have had multiple attempts by high profile champions.
Our portfolio of UCI World Championships and World Cups across our different disciplines have produced consistently spectacular racing and distinguished champions, with the prestige of each of these events and the rainbow jersey ever stronger.
These many initiatives, supported by a complete overhaul of our financial reporting and controls, and by our revitalised brand and new digital platforms, have enabled us to strengthen the financial position of the UCI. We have transformed the financial viability of our MTB and Cyclo-cross properties, positioning both for future growth. We have strengthened our relationships with our partner family, bringing in more resources to the UCI, and entered into a long-term broadcast rights agreement with EBU and IMG, bringing not only greater revenue but ensuring the widest audience for our growing portfolio of events.
This combination of strong cost control and increased revenue provides the platform from which the UCI can invest in the development of cycling. Removing the impact of the revenues from the Olympic Games, the UCI’s financial performance has still improved since my election, and that despite the significant negative impact of the strengthening of the CHF. Looking ahead, the agreements we have put in place, and the changes we have made, give every reason for an optimistic outlook.
Growing the sport
I promised to concentrate on growing cycling worldwide. By committing to an extra 1 million CHF (Swiss Francs) investment in our Continental Federations for National Federation development, I have demonstrated I understand the importance of our grassroots structures. I established a new International Development Department to create closer links with our Federations, initiated regular communications via our National Federations Newsletter and ensured regular knowledge sharing platforms on all continents.
Investment in the UCI World Cycling Centre has been increased and the number of young athletes from around the world attending has consequently been boosted. We have had a similar increase in the number of coaches and for the first time ever we have had all female training camps, para cycling camps, new cyclo-cross camps and more courses for mechanics and commissaires. We have also invested in bringing over nations that would otherwise not have been able to compete at the UCI World Junior Track Championships for a special camp prior to that event.
To reach out further across the world and build talent pathways to the UCI WCC we have continued to develop satellite centres. The Delhi satellite opened in 2016 and as part of our partnership with Wanda Sports in China a new Chinese satellite will transform the opportunity for athletes from that region.
The success of this work to develop cycling across the world is demonstrated by the success of the Rio Games where we had a record number of nations participating. Currently 11 riders in men’s WorldTour Teams are graduate trainees of the UCI World Cycling Centre, while we have also seen Olympic and World Championship medals won by our graduate trainees in Track, BMX and Mountain Bike disciplines, and I am certain we will see this number grow.
I committed to make the development of women’s cycling a key priority, and we have done this across the work of the UCI. In governance and administration, through the creation of the Women’s Commission, dedicated internal resource and ensuring women are present across all our Commissions; in sport, such as bringing parity to prize money across our World Championships; and in training with dedicated courses for women. In addition we have worked especially hard in an area where gender imbalance has been so pronounced, which is elite road cycling. Our commitment and investment is now bearing fruit, with the second season of the UCI Women’s WorldTour underway and marking exponential growth in this discipline.
We continue to work hard to develop men’s elite road cycling as one of the flagships of our sport. For many years this has been a complex area, with many entrenched and sometimes differing views among the stakeholders of this discipline. But the changes which have been brought in are moving us in the right direction, and we have seen exciting and dramatic racing in events both new and old.
The UCI WorldTour now earns its name as a global series, bringing in new exciting races across the world, in addition to the predominantly European monuments. New operational standards have been introduced for both organisers and teams, with a particular emphasis on rider safety, and with it also enhanced stability to stakeholders through our regulations to encourage investment. All this is underpinned by the ceaseless work to protect the credibility of our sport, so crucial for the continued growth and investment needed to compete for the attention and passion of fans.
And finally, whilst the primary role of the UCI will always be to be the international governing body for competitive sport, the UCI’s role has been broadened, revitalised and enhanced, through our new Advocacy and Mass Participation Events Commissions, as a promoter and enabler of cycling for all levels of ability, as a means of transport and as a simply pleasurable and healthy activity.
So, please compare the above with the promises and commitments that I made in 2013, remember the disastrous and controversy-ridden state of the UCI at that time, and I believe that you will see that we have made great progress. Of course, there remains work to do. Four years is not enough time to see through all the changes and make the progress that I would like to make. In that context, please read my manifesto for the next four years.