On 27 September 2013 the UCI elected a new president. On 28 September 2013, the UCI appointed three vice-presidents: one of them was Oceania’s representative on the management committee, Tracey Gaudry. The former cyclist expected that her trip to Florence would be an interesting one and indeed it was.
At the end of October, there will be the first formal management committee meeting since the election and that’s when the efforts of Cookson and his cohorts can truly start being judged.
Following the congress and the road cycling world championships, Gaudry remained in Europe for two weeks with her husband, Tony, and their three children aged 10, eight and six. A day after her return to Australia, she spoke to RIDE about the politics of cycling, what she experienced in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence on the day of the election, what has transpired since, and what she expects will change in cycling in the first term of Brian Cookson’s tenure as president of the UCI.
RIDE will present the interview with Tracey Gaudry in three parts.
• Part 01: Gaudry’s appointment as UCI vice-president
• Part 02: The actual UCI election process
• Part 03: The future – and what will be done
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If you’re after some background reading, RIDE has already published a series of interviews with Cookson that were conducted on the final day of his visit to Australia in late August.
RIDE has also published a flashback from 1999, a profile of Tracey Gaudry when she was a professional cyclist on a comeback from acute lymphatic leukemia.
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– Tracey Gaudry interview (part 01) –
18 October 2013
– By Rob Arnold
RIDE: You were gone four weeks in total, the first fortnight included some official duties and then two weeks were holidays with the family but now the business really begins, doesn’t it?
Tracey Gaudry: “Absolutely. The first two weeks were very tumultuous but it had been a tumultuous year and, importantly, the same applies literally for the day of the UCI election for the new president and management committee.
“The UCI management committee had already met within the hour [of the election of Brian Cookson as president] and again the next morning to establish the way forward and to get working as a team. It all happened within 24 hours of the new administration forming. So whilst there have been a couple of weeks of holiday since then, business has already commenced and that is the way it has to be.”
RIDE: Did you know before you left that if Cookson was elected, you would be a vice-president [of the UCI]. Was that part of the plan?
“No, there was no plan. There was no deal done. It’s important to establish – or to confirm – that the election for the president was one thing and whichever way that fell, cycling was going to change and the opportunities for key roles was going to change.
“Once the president was elected then there was the election of the management committee and, again, depending on which way the presidential election went, it would have had an impact on the election of the management committee members – albeit a small one because there weren’t too many more candidates than management committee spots available.
“Only after the new management committee was formed was it then possible to consider who seriously was a candidate to be a vice-president. At that point in time, and this was literally the afternoon of the election, it was about confirming yourself as a candidate for vice-president. Then the next morning was the management committee’s first proper meeting, on the Saturday morning (28/09) and any vice-presidential candidate needed to be elected by their peers – essentially it was the management committee electing its own vice-presidents.
“That’s how quickly things happened and how narrow the decision timeframe was. It was a very, very intense 24 hour period.”
RIDE: You have said before that Oceania, with you as its president, was one of the vocal regions in campaigning for Brian Cookson. Did that help you with your appointment as vice-president?
“Firstly, to clarify: within Oceania, Australia and New Zealand expressed their support for Brian as a new president and, at the same time, my role was as president of Oceania – so quite clearly the direction that the country delegates took was the direction that was supporting. But on the other hand my role was also as a member of the UCI management committee.
“We [Oceania] established very early that we wanted to vote as a block, in solidarity as a unit. However it wasn’t for me to go out publically making a statement about a position of the Oceania – that was the role of the delegates – my role was to continue to work within the management committee supporting and working on decisions that the UCI was making throughout that period for cycling globally. It was already a complex period.
“Then, the next question you asked is: did the position of our region help with respect to my appointment as a vice-president? Clearly Brian, when he was elected as president, expressed his preferences for vice-president and part of that was globalisation – that we didn’t want to have a Euro-centric top echelon of leadership – and also about diversity. And also, if I may express this: every candidate needed to stand up on their own merit as an individual for what they could bring to the table in terms of leadership, governance, and relevant skills.
“My appointment represents many things.
“It represents globalisation: we are the region that’s furthest away from Europe.
“It represents diversity in terms of gender.
“It represents diversity in terms of the next generation of cycling administration.
“And it also includes significant current experience in anti-doping governance, cycling as a grass-roots participation activity and being the most recent retiree from the professional league of cycling.
“So there are some really strong characteristics there that we hope go with the
responsibility to work in that position.”
RIDE: All valid points and thanks for putting it into context.
“I’ll also say that, with all that in mind, that the 15-member management committee elected the vice-presidents in a silent ballot from amongst ourselves as peers. That’s the process under the UCI constitution.”
RIDE: And what is that management committee composed of – who are the 15 members?
“It is made up of the [UCI] president as well the five continental presidents of which I am one. It’s relevant to note for the community of followers of cycling that, prior to the UCI election, those five continental presidents were on the management committee; [and] they were the only five people who were guaranteed to be on the management committee the next day.
“We had both a unique and a pressurised position because we were part of the previous and new administrations, which is why my roles before the election needed to be very tightly focussed on, one: what’s right for our region; and, two: continuing my governance role with the UCI.
“Back to the question: the 15 members are the president, the five continental presidents and then nine elected members of the management committee who were elected by the 42-delegate congress.”
RIDE: This is a bit of Australian cycling histrionics but it’s amusing nonetheless; the last time we had a vice-president, it was Ray Godkin. I wonder how you feel about taking over a mantle that Ray Godkin once had.
“I guess, firstly: the way I like to operate – in terms of looking back – my mantra has always been to look forward as well as, whatever role you take on or put yourself forward as a candidate for, to recognise the contribution made by those who have served before you. It’s about there being a role and responsibility and being ready to deal with that.
“I’m very honoured but also recognise the great responsibility of being elected by my peers in the management committee to be a vice-president in the first place.
“The point of the matter is that it stems back to a year ago when Cycling Australia put its faith in me as a candidate for the Oceania presidency.
“This whole journey – which is really a 20-year journey as you know because you’ve known me since way back when – is one of working with people over a long period, building confidence and trust to take on responsibilities. And it might be my name on the piece of paper but the work being done is the result of a whole team working together.
“I’m now vice-president and I do take on a role that Australia has had in the past with Ray Godkin, who was also the Oceania president and, at the time, also the president of Cycling Australia.
“It is a huge responsibility but I also look back at how Australian cycling has evolved over the last couple of decades. We are a very strong nation in cycling so for that we should be very proud. And because of that, being a vice-president of the UCI is a very important position for Australia to hold. We can achieve a hell of a lot – this region, Australia and Oceania – by having a vice-president on the UCI. That’s a responsibility that I’m absolutely embracing because it means that with the voice that we have, we have a very influential seat at the table. Let’s make the most of that.”
RIDE: It was a year ago that you became a cycling politician again. Did you expect that taking over the role as president of Oceania would lead to this? Or has it happened by default because of the circumstance of cycling?
“Even being an athlete 20 years ago, I was in a political environment. I was part of the political system whether I realised it or not.
“At any point in time, it’s like a game of chess. One decision leads to a whole chain of circumstance – a chain reaction – and it’s really important to understand that. There is strategy, there are stakeholders, there’s a plan and then there’s tactics. There was a clear strategy for Oceania: we need to establish a very clear way forward, we want to bring in a fresh approach, we want to bring in a person with skills across a range of agendas – anti-doping, elite sport, participation, governance…
“We’ve achieved that, what can the individual now do on behalf of the region?
“We had an election (UCI) coming up. We had established our position very clearly, very early… what do we do with that now? It was a whole chain of events and every decision leads to a new set of circumstances.
“You can try and forecast the steps down the track – or the movements down stream – but until the next decision is made, you won’t know if it opens up a range of new opportunities. Basically it’s a sequence of doors opening and doors shutting – seizing opportunities as they arise or not.
“I’d have to say that for all of the tumultuous environment that cycling has been in over the last while – including the governance changes that Cycling Australia is making, of course cycling in New Zealand has its own challenges and we need to develop our sister countries – we’ve been very strong. Throughout that period of time, we’ve been able to put this region in a position of strength.
“We couldn’t have predicted a year ago that this was going to be the outcome because a year ago we didn’t know that Brian Cookson was going to be a candidate. We didn’t know how well I was going to be able to perform as the Oceania president. What we know is that the region put its faith in me and I took the responsibility on behalf of the region. It’s now a matter of putting the best foot forward at every opportunity and not being afraid of failure by doing so.
“A lot of the last 12 months has seen a lot of very brave, smart and tactical decision making. We’ve also been very clear about continuing on because it’s the right thing to do.
“My message to the community about the next four years as well is that we’ll make decisions that will not always be popular with everyone, but at every point in time we shouldn’t be afraid to make a decision that we – with all perspectives considered and a collegiate approach – believe is the right thing for cycling.”
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