All The Man’s Presidencies

David Lappartient’s on the verge of heading the French Olympic Committee after the sudden resignation of its previous president, there’s an election next week. If members pick him it’ll be his eleventh role, not the eleventh move in his career, instead he could hold 11 concurrent jobs. Even he says this is unsustainable and it’s quite possible he’ll stand down from the UCI in 2025. The race is on for the next UCI President.

Brigitte Henriques resigned from the French Olympic Committee (Comité national olympique du sport français, CNOSF) last month following a series of semi-public arguments with her predecessor and other board members, not a good look ahead of France hosting the Olympics next summer.

David Lappartient didn’t quite throw his hat into the ring and declare himself a candidate on this news, but made it known that he has a hat and he knows how to toss it. He spoke of standing to become the CNOSF President if there was a “consensus”, a way of saying he’d go for the job if there was a majority behind him to start with. Sure enough he’s now standing and so far there’s one rival candidate in Emmanuelle Bonnet-Oulaldj. It’s only to see out the current term that lasts until 2025.

Lappartient is of course the current UCI President, a job he took on in 2017 and secured a second term in 2021 that runs until 2025. Fans of Lappartient might be delighted that he’s going to apply his skills to another job; detractors will be pleased he’s bound to spend less time on cycling. Of course it might not be so binary.

As highlighted at the top of this post, it would be his eleventh concurrent role. Here are the current ten roles, as listed in newspaper Le Monde yesterday:

  1. UCI President
  2. French Olympic Committee member
  3. International Olympic Committee member
  4. WADA Foundation Board member
  5. Paris 2024 Olympic organiser committee
  6. President of the Morbihan department in France
  7. President of the Compagnie des ports du Morbihan
  8. President of the Board of Atout Ports, a firm that does IT projects for pleasure boats
  9. President of the parc naturel régional du golfe du Morbihan
  10. A local councillor in Vannes

On top of these ten roles listed by Le Monde, we could add another as corporate registries in France say he’s also an administrateur of a company called Equipements du Morbihan making it 11 jobs but this entry could be old and he’s stepped down. Either way it’s a lot. For context in France there’s a tradition of accumulating roles, a mayor of a village can sit on a regional government and until a decade ago many parliamentary members had other roles as mayors and ministers until reforms put a halt to the practice at the higher levels of government. So Lappartient doing several roles is quasi-normal but as Le Monde says with an ironic tone, ten jobs makes him a “champion” multitasker.

Office politics
Interestingly there have been several articles in Le Monde of late featuring Lappartient (see here and here ,with the interesting nugget that Igor Makarov sailed into the Bay of Arzon just off the coast of Sarzeau – where Lappartient was the mayor – in August 2017, weeks before Lappartient was first elected as UCI President). James Bond author Ian Fleming once wrote “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action” and it’s almost as if someone is briefing against Lappartient via Le Monde. L’Equipe reports that in the wake of these articles Lappartient has written to the CNOSF members to reassure them that he will give up some roles, such as the parks gig. And so he should be explaining, pointing out all these jobs is normal and any electorate ought to be informed and question the candidate’s ability to do the job, including if they have sufficient time and energy.

Just going by the headlines alone and the recriminations with the previous president, taking on the top job at the CNOSF sounds like a poisoned chalice but in a world where these jobs often go to ex-athletes (Henriques was a footballer), perhaps Lappartient as more of a politician can find a way through? He’s also putting his name to the French performance at the Paris Olympics and partly through all the infighting that led to Henriques’s resignation, expectations of a triumphant home haul of gold are probably low. It’s the cycling equivalent of taking a turn into a headwind.

What’s it all mean for cycling?
The CNOSF election is a week away and if it interested bookmakers he’d be the runaway pick, it seems likely he’ll get the job. If so for cycling it’s likely to mean the UCI President is going to be spending more time in Paris and less in Aigle in the short term. But while Lappartient has not said anything about giving up the UCI Presidency, it’s likely he’ll see out his term until 2025 and stand down. This is just hunch-level inference here rather than anything more informed but he’s got to the top level in cycling and whatever he can do in two terms, he doesn’t need a third. Evaluating his role as President is for another day, there’s a lot of “reform” that’s under development and its announcement, let alone implementation, is a while away. Plus it’s hard to separate things he’s achieved from things that might have happened anyway, such as stabilising the UCI finances, governance reforms or added safety measures in road racing and remember that while we see the UCI = Pro Cycling, it’s the governing body of all things cycling from mountain biking to indoor bicycle gymnastics.

The big question is who are the candidates to take over in 2025 and what are their priorities?

28 thoughts on “All The Man’s Presidencies”

  1. Another insight only available to the adherents of this esteemed blog.

    Having recently been to Vannes and the whole Morbihan department, Lappartient is doing a fantastic job in everything he touches and should have more presidencies, not fewer. The marine industry and the natural environment thrive, the people are happy and healthy and it’s a place where those who’ve enjoyed careers in the highest echelons of French society choose to take a base for later life.

    Being a president is only onerous if things are going wrong so many of these roles are titular and enjoyable whilst allowing his organisations to prosper through excellent networking and having a person of note at their head.

    I’m a fan sure, but his predecessors at the UCI set the bar so low and only became prominent on the strength of their mistakes, bad judgment and overreach. A president who generates no bad publicity is a successful one. As readers of this blog will know, UCI is actually a small enterprise in commercial terms with its reputation and connections, influence and authority being its real capital. So many of Lappartient’s ‘jobs’ actually go with the territory and are a necessary part of the role:- there’s a meeting to decide on new sports at The Games; who goes to represent cycle sport..?

    Le Monde probably has more of an agenda. Who’s it backing?

    • Wow, you do realise he was only elected president of the Morbihan département in July 2021, he must truly be a miracle worker if you’re attributing the thriving marine industry, the environment and the happy and healthy people to him. Macron should probably just step aside actually.

        • +1
          He really is a smooth politician but actually also a surprisingly nice person to talk with, though achieving what he has certainly does not come without some mercenary instincts as well.

        • World-class moaning is the national pursuit (cf; Gilets jaunes) so this attempt at a pastiche of Candide obviously passed some by. The bathos kicker of how dire his predecessors had been therefore missed.
          Le Monde would disappoint its self-selected reader base if it didn’t moan about something whilst pusuing its agenda.
          And as for Olympic Delivery Authorities being a mire of graft and haven of property tycoons, well how else is big money going to get away with the wholesale destruction of inhabitants’ lives to make way for long-term property gain if it isn’t under the cloak of ‘le sport’?!

    • ‘it’s a place where those who’ve enjoyed careers in the highest echelons of French society choose to take a base for later life’ – the places where rich people choose to live usually are nice places, and not by accident.

  2. From the interweb,
    “Police have searched the headquarters of the Paris 2024 Olympics organising committee, as well as its major infrastructure partner, as part of investigations into alleged embezzlement of public funds and favouritism.”
    Same thing happened in Tokyo, I seem to remember, so nothing new there!

    Who should take over the UCI? I’m sure there’s a whole bunch of people who’d throw their hat into the ring.

    • I wonder too. His deputy Amina Lanaya, the Director General, could be a continuity candidate and insider. Tom Van Damme has been mentioned in the past, he run the UCI’s Road Commission which has been a route to the presidency before.

      But it’s an unusual electorate, the Philipines cycling federation counts as much as the French cycling federation, the Burkina Faso has the same one vote as Belgium and rightly so in some ways. It just means voices and concerns we don’t often hear about become crucial for the candidates and the presidency.

      • Lappartient was thought of when he became President, that he’ll be ASO’s lapdog. He had also lots of contacts within sport federations so a bureaucrat with the right connections seems likely.
        UCI voting has been, shall we say, interesting in the past, so it should proving entertaining.

    • These Olympics Games seem shadier and shadier (like all of them nowadays ?) and french people seem to be less and less happy to have them at home (like everytime just before the event, and in the end everyone is carried away by the ambiance ?) Maybe only a good politician can zigzag between all the dark stains that appear all around this project. Lappartient is very ambitious and willing to take risks to upgrade his game, he could just have been president of the UCI for 30 years, and mayor of Sarzeau the same, and he has more to loose than to gain in this experience. I have no idea what to think about him, he’s pretty good to be discreet when needed…
      Do you think it can be good for cycling if he finishes with a big role in the IOC ?

      • Rio 2016 was massively corrupt (as was the 2014 World Cup), so we’re on a winning streak here! In fact, there’s a very long history of waste and graft surrounding the Olympics. They are always sold on the promise of “renewed infrastructure” and a “massive increase in tourism.” They rarely leave anything but increased public debt in their wake. You’ll almost never find me in the “let the free market sort it out “ camp, but I honestly think the Olympics are something that might be better off funded and administered by private capital, not public.

  3. There appears to be an ever growing merry-go-round for leaders of cycling bodies. These people move from CEO of one sport to another sport with ease on very high salaries.Without the slightest understanding or even commitment to the rank and file members
    I prefer to see people move up through the ranks with proof of a firm understanding of what is good for the sport, and just as importantly what is not.
    I think the present dire situation at British Cycling illustrates the problems created by these people who have never ridden a bike nor have any understanding of the membership and clubs, being handed the ‘top job’. No decent domestic race programme, no national sponsorship, no national road development team, ever more money extracted from the grass roots………
    All I can say is I hope that someone from within the sport lands the UCI presidency, and not some hapless job hopping bureaucrat.

    • Lappartient’s a cyclist though, and had risen up the ranks from weekend warrior to local club official to the French federation and onwards.

      The UCI President is a well-paid role plus more including housing in Switzerland but nobody goes into for the money, hopefully. There are non-sports related international organisations to run where people can add a zero on the salary.

      • Yes, he did pay his dues but he must have set his eyes on the top shelf very early to reach these positions 1) at quite a young age and 2) connecting and networking with extreme efficiency.
        His love of cycling as a sport, though, is unwavering.

    • Not just a merry go round in cycling bodies – someone does athletics for a bit then moves to swimming; swimming moves to rowing; rowing moves to badminton; badminton to hockey; hockey to orienteering(!). If they have a solid team well versed in the sport immediately below them, and directors sourced from within the sport, that they work well with and learn from, then they could provide relevant high-level links and experience re funding, strategy etc. that those with the knowledge of the sport can leverage. But how often that happens I’m not so sure. Sometimes feels like CV filler and paygrade massaging.

      • Yes, they move from one to another – and are as ineffectual at all of them. Step forward Julie Harrington, now at British horse racing……absolutely hopeless!

    • I think head of a federation like the UCI is a politician’s job. It needs to be someone who can get things done in an environment with many people who all have their own views on what is best for the sport ( ‘the sport’ might be BMX, or track cycling in Africa) Most people who started as good cyclists probably suck at that job.

  4. Given the people behind that desk in the recent past, Lappartient will go down at least as an “adult in the room” on his way up the IOC ladder. The UCI needs another one like him but I won’t be holding my breath.

  5. “Président of the Morbihan department”. Is that the same Morbihan département that recently oversaw the destruction of some of the monolithic Carnac stones to build a M Bricolage hardware store?
    Nice work.

  6. Lappartient’s a tosser one way or the other, there’s no doubt about that, and I’m sure he’ll put in the necessary grift in his 11th job just like he has for all the others. There’s a lot of support for Igor Makarov here going by the desire for more of the same and he’s unlikely to make the same mistake twice having failed to get Cookson to dance to his tune when he thought he was in his pocket.

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