With its contentious presidential election less than two months away and a court battle brewing over Pat McQuaid’s nomination, cycling’s world governing body, the UCI, could see a last-minute change to its voting process at the elite road world championships in Florence, Italy, in September.
The Malaysian Federation and Asian Continental Confederation — both of which have seen growth during the tenure of current UCI president Pat McQuaid — have proposed a change to the requirements for candidates for the organization’s top post. The UCI announced on Monday that the Asian bodies have proposed removing the requirement that presidential candidates be nominated by their home federations, and instead require that they be backed by any two federations globally.
“In their letter proposing the amendment, the Malaysian Federation and ACC state that their aims are to reinforce the independence of future UCI presidents by ensuring they are able to carry out the role based on serving the global interests of cycling, independently from those of any single nominating national federation,” the UCI said in a press release.
The rule change, if approved, would be backdated to allow nominations be made until 12:00 p.m. CEST on August 30. In the same announcement, the UCI revealed that the Thai Cycling Association and the Fédération Royale Marocaine de Cyclisme (Morocco) had joined the Swiss federation in backing McQuaid.
McQuaid’s own Irish federation voted in May to nominate the two-term president, but member clubs demanded a special vote, during which Cycling Ireland voted against supporting its candidate. McQuaid appealed to the Swiss federation for support, as he has lived in Aigle, Switzerland since becoming UCI president in 2005, and received its nomination. At least one board member challenged the decision, but the Swiss logged official support for McQuaid before the June 30 deadline to do so. The Thai and Moroccan federations were not listed as nominating countries at that time.
Former Swiss national coach Kurt Buergi, Swiss Cycling board member Mathias Galli, and retired professional Patrick Calcagni continue to pursue legal avenues to undue the McQuaid nomination.
“Legal proceedings in Switzerland to contest the Swiss Cycling Federation’s nomination of UCI president Pat McQuaid for a further term of office in September, have been confirmed by the formal constitution of the Arbitral Tribunal,” Skins chairman Jaimie Fuller confirmed to VeloNews. An outspoken critic of McQuaid, Fuller is backing the action.
“The decision to endorse is tainted on both procedural and substantial grounds and constitutes a clear attempt by Mr. McQuaid to circumvent the fact that Cycling Ireland, his own national federation, has democratically decided not to present him again for reelection.
“Additionally, the claimants suggest that the meeting which resulted in the Swiss Cycling announcement was irregular for various reasons, including conflict of interests.”
According to Fuller, a hearing is scheduled for August 22, at which time he expects McQuaid to be called to testify.
British Cycling president Brian Cookson is opposing McQuaid in what has become a divisive campaign. Each candidate has published a lengthy manifesto outlining his platform, and blasted his opponent over such.
The move by the Malaysian federation will require Cookson to seek nomination from one federation in addition to his native Great Britain in order to safeguard against the last-minute rule change. He will likely find friends in a number of federations, including USA Cycling. Board president and UCI Management Committee member Mike Plant has publicly spoken out against McQuaid’s campaign.
Fuller called the efforts to re-write the election rules an “abuse of process and power.”
“The latest actions from UCI president Pat McQuaid are those of a desperate man trying to hold onto his dwindling power base. This abuse of process and power are unheard of in sports administration circles and his tactics most resemble those of Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe,” Fuller said in an e-mail to VeloNews. “Mr. McQuaid obviously recognizes that Swiss Cycling could lose their defense of their endorsement of Mr. McQuaid and therefore he has set off down a path to twist and manipulate the UCI rules in his own self interest. The fact that he has now become a member of the Thai and Moroccan Federations and has proposed changes to the constitution to enable them to nominate him for president should Swiss Cycling lose their action, shows the lengths that Mr. McQuaid will go to in order to maintain his well-abused position.”
The Tour du Maroc (Tour of Morocco) has held UCI registration since 2006 and Morocco won the nations points competition for UCI Africa Tour in 2012. The Maha Chackri Sirindhon’s Cup Tour of Thailand has also held UCI registration since 2006, the year of its inception. McQuaid is a member of each federation, though it is not known when that membership began.
The presidential election will take place at the UCI Congress on September 27 in Florence.
Brian Cookson was not immediately available for a comment on this story.
Editor in chief Neal Rogers contributed to this report.