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Sports

New UCI boss vows to clean up a sport tainted by doping

Cycling’s world governing body has a new president after Britain’s Brian Cookson defeated the incumbent, Pat McQuaid of Ireland. Cookson has pledged to clean up the sport, which has been tainted by doping scandals.

Delegates at an International Cycling Union (UCI) conference in Florence voted 24-18 to elect Brian Cookson (pictured above) as the organization's new president, ending Pat McQuaid's eight-years in the job.

"It is a huge honor to have been elected president of the UCI by my peers and I would like to thank them for the trust they have placed in me today," Cookson said after the result of the vote was announced.

"My first priorities as president will be to make anti-doping procedures in cycling fully independent, sit together with key stakeholders in the sport and work with WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) to ensure a swift investigation into cycling's doping culture," the 61-year-old Briton added.

The vote came at the end of a protracted election process in which for much of the day, it wasn't even clear whether McQuaid would be allowed to run for re-election. His candidacy was called into question after the delegates from his native Ireland and the country he resides in, Switzerland, withdrew their support. In the end, McQuaid did manage to throw his hat into the ring on the strength of nominations from Thailand and Morrocco.

McQuaid had faced criticism from WADA and the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) over the scandal surrounding former seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who last year admitted having doped and was stripped of his titles.

The USADA, whose investigation it was that led to Armstrong being banned from the sport in 2012, welcomed the change in leadership at the UCI.

"USADA welcomes cycling's vote for a new and clean future. The outcome of the UCI election sends a powerful message that sport leaders who fail to fully protect the rights of clean athletes and the integrity of their sport will be held accountable," a statement issued by USADA's chief executive, Travis Tygart said.

pfd/dr ( AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)