In the wake of the UCI’s announcement that it was seeking to amend its nomination protocol ahead of the upcoming UCI presidential election, Mike Plant, former president of USA Cycling and the U.S. representative on the UCI Management Committee, has issued a letter to UCI general director Christophe Hubschmid, strongly condemning the proposal, announced Monday, that seems intent on ensuring that UCI president Pat McQuaid be nominated by a cycling federation for the September 27 election.
Plant, a former member of the board of directors at the U.S. Olympic Committee and now an executive with the Atlanta Braves, was a member of the UCI Management Committee between 1997 and 2004, and was reelected in 2009.
At a Management Committee meeting in Norway on June 14, Plant publicly ended his support of McQuaid, and allegedly produced a secret dossier on McQuaid’s tenure as UCI president that sparked heated debate.
Though Plant has not commented publicly on the contents of the dossier, he released a statement following that June 14 meeting, saying, “I can no longer support the current president of the UCI. In private discussions with the UCI president and fellow members of the UCI Management Committee, I have made my reasons, findings and concerns clear to him and my colleagues. This is a critical turning point in the history of our sport, and strong, credible leadership has never been more important. The impact of the decisions being made today will be felt for generations to come.”
As the founder of Medalist Sports, Plant organized the Tour de Trump and Tour DuPont in the 1990s, and served as president of USA Cycling from 1995 to 2002.
McQuaid’s road to a third term as UCI president has been littered with obstacles, dating back to his contentious relationship with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency over the Lance Armstrong doping case last summer. More recently, he’s seen his home federation, Cycling Ireland, overturn its nomination of him, and then his endorsement by the Swiss federation challenged, legally. A hearing is scheduled for August 22, at which time McQuaid may be called to testify.
In the midst of this controversy, British Cycling head Brian Cookson has emerged as a viable candidate for the UCI presidency, challenging McQuaid’s reign over the sport, which began with his first four-year term in 2005.
On Monday, the UCI announced that the Malaysian Federation had proposed an amendment, 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 [Asian Continental Confederation] 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 press release stated, adding that McQuaid has the backing of Swiss Cycling, the Thai Cycling Association, and the Fédération Royale Marocaine de Cyclisme — all three of which he has membership, the UCI stated.
The new amendment also proposes to allow any two national federations to put forward candidates from now until a deadline of August 30 — eight days after McQuaid is likely to be called to testify in Switzerland.
The nominations would become valid if the motion is subsequently approved at Congress, held September 27, just prior to the presidential election, meaning McQuaid may be facing two votes that day — first, on the amendment, to ensure his nomination, and then on his presidential candidacy.
In an email message to VeloNews on Monday evening, Plant shared the letter he’d sent to Hubschmid.
In that email, Plant wrote that he would not sit by, “as a leader of the UCI, and condone this type of inappropriate action, nor pretend that it is an acceptable way to run a global sports federation whose president pontificates about its values and virtues.”
The full text of the message follows:
I received and reviewed your letter earlier today. I am not sure how my comments will translate into other languages.
However, in my opinion, the timing of this significant change to the presidential nomination process, less than 60 days from a very contested, globally visible and important election is unconscionable, unethical, dishonest, unprofessional, manipulative and destructive.
I can think of more, but I believe these adjectives get my point across.
Never in the history of the UCI has there been this much interest and public discussion about the upcoming election and the future impact (good or bad) of the result. Now we are going to change the rules at the eleventh hour before this historic election? Does anyone really think the vast majority of our stakeholders, constituencies, fans, media, etc. are going to accept this as just a small administrative governance change?
Considering the amount of attention the current president’s nomination challenges have received over the past few months, I don’t think so.
One month ago, we received the results of the stakeholder study. Over 7,000 respondents overwhelmingly told us that we must restore the credibility in the UCI and the leadership. For the life of me, I cannot see how making this significant change to the nomination process, on the morning of the election, will do anything less than further destroy the current reputation and credibility of how this organization is currently being governed and managed.
I would encourage all of my colleagues on the management committee to really think about the ramifications and repercussions of supporting this action in advance of the upcoming election.