UCI AND WORLD RUGBY TACKLE INTEGRITY AT SPORT INDUSTRY BREAKFAST CLUB, POWERED BY CWM FX
17th March 2015, London: The first Sport Industry Breakfast Club, powered by CWM FX, of 2015 took place this morning featuring Brian Cookson, President of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and Brett Gosper, CEO of World Rugby.
The two heads of major international federations tackled a range of tough topics and questions from sports broadcaster James Pearce, as well as the industry audience.
Following the recent Cycling Independent Reform Commission report into the sport’s troubled recent history, Cookson was quick to admit that doping in remains a problem.
“The most significant thing in the report is that the panel could not find anyone who would give cycling a clean bill of health at the moment. That’s an uncomfortable message for us, but it’s something that we have to take on board and we have to think about what we are going to do to resolve that issue.
“In all walks of life there will be people who try and cheat, so our job is about making that more difficult and lowering the radar.
“The key element for sport at the moment is not the perceived image of wholesomeness. It’s the reality of integrity that is much more important. That’s something we as a sport lost sight of, and it’s something we’re working very hard to try and address.”
Asked by Pearce about rumours that doping had made it to amateur events and could affect young people as well, Cookson said he had “nothing but contempt for those people.”
“You’re only kidding yourself. If people are supplying doping products to under 18s, that’s child abuse, that’s criminal, that’s a disgrace. And if that’s happening then we should all be trying to do something about that.”
Gosper, who revealed record numbers of doping tests and educational programmes had been undertaken by rugby players in 2014, admitted World Rugby would not sit back and admire their results.
“We founded our sport on character, it’s a sport of character that matches our values, so it’s important we push a sport that is full of integrity.
“I don’t believe we have an institutional problem in doping and we monitor any gambling issues very well – it’s complacency that we need to be careful of. It’s easy to become smug if you’re not careful, so we need to keep our monitoring as strong as can be. We need to protect the clean athlete.”
In total, a record 7,000 players, coaches and staff took part in either face-to-face or online anti-doping education in 2014, although Gosper added that it was essential to keep an eye open around the increasing use of supplements as well.
“Supplements needs to be looked into for young people. It can be harmful to your health and it needs to be regulated. There’s a bit of a grey area which can lead into doping later on down the line if it’s not well regulated.”
Cookson concluded: “There are two categories of sports: those who have a doping problem and are trying to do something about it – and I would say cycling and rugby are among those – and there are those who are in denial and not doing anything about it. Those are the ones that will have a bigger problem sooner rather than later.”
Following recent comments from IOC President Thomas Bach, Cookson also revealed that testing would take place at the UCI headquarters in Switzerland on Friday for mixed-gender events.
“We have to be open minded. We’ll try and few things and see what works.”
Meanwhile, the head of world cycling claimed it would be “disrespectful” if Lance Armstrong rode the Tour de France route a day before the professional peloton as a charity fundraiser.
Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour titles for doping on every one of his wins from 1999-2005, but the comments followed an invite from former England football player Geoff Thomas.
“I am sure Geoff Thomas means well, (but) it is frankly inappropriate, disrespectful to the Tour de France, and disrespectful to the current peloton.
“Lance would be well advised not to take part,” added Cookson.
In response to recent reports that the ICC was considering decreasing the number of teams in its World Cup competitions, Gosper commented: “Our discussions are certainly about enlarging it rather than reducing it. It was discussed about Japan 2019, do we take it from 20 to 24? We decided not to as it’s a great format right now.
“There’s high competition in that 20 and the winning margins at each World Cup is going down each time and we hope that will be the case at England 2015 as well.
“However, you have to keep an eye on the fact that for some of these countries – such as Russia and Germany – it could hugely expand the sport. Something like a World Cup would be amazing in terms of growth, but you have to temper that with the realities of the competition and the levels of each team.”
The pair also discussed the pros and cons of social media as leaders of world governing bodies. Gosper looked to clarify a tweet last week regarding the Cricket World Cup, which some interpreted as favourable towards Rugby World Cup hosts England over Wales.
“Hindsight with tweets are also easy! The point I was trying to make, clumsily, was that hosts of events like to see the host side do well. The event is successful already commercially, so there’s no reliance, but from an atmosphere point of view it’s nice to see the host team do well.
“If you leave yourself open to an over-interpretation of what you say then you’ve probably made an error, but it was a light-hearted tweet! There’s been some fun banter between the new (Welsh) followers.”
The Sport Industry Breakfast Club, powered by CWM FX is the industry’s number one networking event series with four content-led networking breakfasts over the course of the year.
The next Sport Industry Breakfast Club, powered by CWM FX will take place on Wednesday 10th June. For more information visit http://www.sportindustry.biz/events/breakfast-club/2015