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:
- UCI President
- French Olympic Committee member
- International Olympic Committee member
- WADA Foundation Board member
- Paris 2024 Olympic organiser committee
- President of the Morbihan department in France
- President of the Compagnie des ports du Morbihan
- President of the Board of Atout Ports, a firm that does IT projects for pleasure boats
- President of the parc naturel régional du golfe du Morbihan
- 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.
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?