DUBLIN (VN) — Cycling Ireland bowed to pressure from its members Friday in Dublin, and has revoked its nomination of Pat McQuaid for the upcoming UCI presidential election.
The Irish federation called for an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to allow its members to vote on whether McQuaid should be allowed seek another term at the head of cycling’s world governing body.
Ireland’s national governing body came under fire recently when six of its seven board members ratified McQuaid’s nomination at a meeting in Dublin.
Vice chairman Anthony Moran, the only board member not to have voted for McQuaid, resigned after the meeting.
On Thursday it was announced that Moran had challenged the nomination, as he believed the meeting wasn’t carried out within the legal framework and guidelines of the federation.
After consulting with its legal team, Moran’s challenge was upheld at Friday’s Cycling Ireland meeting in Dublin and its nomination of McQuaid was deemed void under its own rules and regulations.
Rather than voting again, Cycling Ireland’s board then ceded to public pressure to hold an EGM where members can vote on whether or not to ratify McQuaid’s nomination.
“I’m very happy that they’ve made a very hard decision to hand it back over to the grass roots,” said Moran after Friday night’s turnaround. “You have to take your hat off to them for having the courage to do it.”
Moran’s painstaking research into the USADA reasoned decision was part of the reason why he voted against McQuaid the first time.
“I read the whole USADA report before the board meeting with Pat,” Moran said. “I went back through all the correspondence between William Bock, the USADA attorney, and the UCI. It’s just constant drugs, drugs, drugs. I lost confidence in the UCI and consequently I lost confidence in Pat as leader.
“From a governance perspective, somebody has to take the rap for it. Unfortunately, it’s an Irishman at the top but there have been too many drugs scandals, too many things going on, too many mistakes made. Somebody has to take the blame. I thought back to Mark Scanlon (Irish junior world road race champion 1999 and former pro). That guy was a phenomenal rider. He was in the class of Boonen, Cancellara, Pozzato, all of those guys. He should still be in cycling. He should be winning the Tour of Flanders. But he didn’t do that. Why didn’t he do that? Because he was forced out by doping. When I think of Irish guys like that it annoys me. I have lost all interest in professional cycling. I don’t even watch it anymore.”
Although he has since resigned, and admits he hasn’t touched his bike in months, it’s clearly evident that Moran still cares about the direction of the sport and more research on his behalf brought about tonight’s decision.
“After that initial meeting I got a copy of the memorandum and articles of association of the federation and went through them. I noticed there was a bit of a discrepancy in how the meeting was held. I emailed Cycling Ireland last Monday to tell them I thought the meeting was invalid and, due to the fact that I was now off the board, they should put the nomination to an EGM. I was sitting on that for a while to give them time to come back to me.”
While Moran was waiting for an official response from Cycling Ireland, at least two more groups of members had begun to lobby every cycling club in Ireland to ask Cycling Ireland for an EGM and, with Friday’s meeting imminent, stepped up their campaign in recent days.
“While I was waiting, a few guys had contacted me with a view to calling an EGM from a different angle, through the clubs, so yesterday I just said ‘to hell with it’ and tweeted that I’d asked for an EGM, to get it out there. The other guys started working on it from the club angle and by this evening they had around 30 clubs on board. We felt we needed between 30 and 40 clubs (10 percent of the total number of clubs in Ireland) to call an EGM so the federation were aware that we had a lot of clubs behind us and there were a few more just going through the process of supporting an EGM.
“They were aware that we were nearly in a position to call an EGM through the membership but to their credit, they called it themselves, which was a very good thing for them to do.”
While Moran was unwilling to give away the actual reason why the meeting broke the federation’s rules, a press release from the UCI seems to have done just that.
“I was honored that the board of Cycling Ireland endorsed my nomination as a candidate for the Presidency of the UCI earlier this month,” said a statement from Pat McQuaid, issued Friday. “I understand that Cycling Ireland has now decided to refer the matter to an EGM as a result of a technicality arising from the fact that its President temporarily vacated the chair of the nomination meeting so that he could contribute to the meeting under the chair of the CEO. This decision was taken on the basis of legal advice on procedural rules not on the merits of my nomination which the Board has endorsed.”
Cycling Ireland also released its own statement which reads: “Cycling Ireland at a meeting of its board on April 26th decided to convene an EGM to consider matters which have arisen following the decision taken at its board meeting on April 12th, to nominate Mr. Pat McQuaid to stand for the position of UCI President. Details of the EGM will be circulated to all clubs early next week.”
Although he has walked away from cycling for now, and even given up watching the sport on TV, Moran insists he is still friends with all of those concerned.
“They’re all decent guys, they all love cycling,” he says. “For me the only regret is that this decision should have been made initially and I wouldn’t have had to resign. Even though I was weary of cycling work and doing it for nothing, I never wanted to be paid. The development program is dear to my heart, as is the women’s program. They are two areas in which I feel we’ve made great progress and I hope they are nurtured and not broken in any way.
“When I announced that I was retiring from the board I had a lot of pro-McQuaid people asking me not to resign. There are a lot of pro-McQuaid people out there and they have a feeling that he’s done a good job and I respect their opinion. I happen to think it’s wrong. It’s not necessarily that he hasn’t done a good job, but the UCI haven’t done a good job and McQuaid is the leader there, so he’s accountable.”
While he voted against McQuaid initially, Moran says he will support him wholeheartedly if he is nominated through the upcoming EGM.
“I’ve said this before. It’s nothing personal. If Pat goes through the process and Pat gets elected, then happy days. That’s democracy and I’ve no problem with that. I just think that after USADA, if cycling had just one candidate standing in a global election then it’s an indictment on all of the cycling nations. I think this will make a difference and I feel that you will see a couple of really strong candidates coming forward now.”