Some thoughts on Brian Cookson’s latest blog
It’s coming to the end of the campaigning period for Brian Cookson and Pat McQuaid, as they fight for the role of UCI President. Today, Cookson put a blog on his campaign site, with some more of his plans on how to develop women’s road cycling. As always, I can’t link directly to the blog this comes from (Why DO sites do that?) but go to the blog page and look for the post on 13/9/2013.
I am in two minds about Cookson’s statements about women’s cycling, because on the one hand, I love that he’s supporting it so vocally, and referencing things like the Le Tour Entier manifesto for developing women’s cycling, but on the other, in all his statements on women’s cycling before he started his UCI election campaign, even the start of this year, he was saying the opposite – that things can’t change, that it’s not on tv because people aren’t interested (eg here in Cycling Weekly), women don’t deserve a minimum wage etc.
It’s hard, because what I want to see is him – and Pat McQuaid – acknowledging that they were wrong in their statements before, and explaining what’s changed their minds. McQuaid as UCI head and Cookson as UCI Management Committee member and head of British Cycling have both had real chances to change things over the years, and they haven’t – I’d even argue that women’s cycling has been allowed to deteriorate under their watch – and they’ve had all the UCI resources at their fingertips.
To me, there’s absolutely no weakness in saying “I haven’t done as much as I could, but XYZ showed me what we could and should be doing, so I promise to do more in the future, starting with [a list of concrete actions]” – that’s the sign of a genuine, sincere person, who’s more than just electioneering.
I do give Cookson credit for talking about this on his blog, and setting out some ideas. I’d still like to see more detail than the 1 page on women’s racing in his election manifesto – he has four actions in there, and I want to know more.
• Create a Women’s Cycling Commission• New events and broadcast initiatives for women riders• Appoint at least one woman on every UCI Commission• Introduce modern employment standards for women pro riders
What new events? What will that mean for existing events? Didn’t the UCI already commit to one women per Commission last year? Why’s it not been implemented yet? What time frame for these, etc?
(For many years I worked for charities and the Public Sector, developing and implementing policies, so I have a bit of a tic about wanting to see plans of action – with actions to have been taken by the end of year 1, 2 and 4 of a 4-year Presidential period. But I don’t think this is an unreasonable thing to ask – it helps show plans, and that they’re open to being held accountable).
I think part of the issue is that neither Cookson nor McQuaid seem to want to interact and answer questions. At least Cookson has the website, blog and twitter account – but I’ve tweeted and emailed him (assuming they’re run by his team) and no one ever replies, and I’ve lost count of how many of my twitter contacts have asked Cookson Qs on twitter, and never got replies – it’s not a tool for interaction, but announcements. BUT!!! that’s a hell of a lot more than McQuaid does – and for all that I tear my hair out over the lack of detail in Cookson’s work, at least I can see his broad ideas – with McQuaid, it’s just the statements in the cycling media, and they have even less detail.
Bottom line: this is important to me because a support for women’s cycling that isn’t genuine, and is only election campaigning will not help the sport. Explaining why viewpoints have changed will really help people believe the support from both Cookson and McQuaid is more than just words.
As much as I love the focus on women’s road cycling, I would also VERY MUCH like to see Cookson and McQuaid talking about the other bike disciplines, like MTB, cyclocross, BMX and to a lesser degree, track – how they plan to develop all of those, and how to develop them for Para-cyclists, women and other minority groups.
Para-cyclists have it especially hard, with no Para-cycling track World Cups or World Championships this year. One simple solution? Bring Para-cycling into the mainstream, so that UCI events, like the track World Cups and World Champs have to run Para-cycling events too. How are riders expected to prepare for and qualify for the Paralympics, if they can’t compete?
More in my UCI series on the blog here:
- Does anyone know why…. (August ’13)
- Ideas for Federations & the UCI to develop women’s cycling (August ’13)
- Unspoken issues in cycling (July ’13)
- Questions I’d like the UCI Presidential candidates to answer (June ’13)
- Why does the UCI get away with treating women’s cycling so badly? (May ’13)
My series of research and articles on how the UCI women’s road calendar has changed over time, with conclusions and solutions (two articles from this year and three from 2011)
An article I wrote for Cyclingnews last year – Four simple ways to develop women’s cycling