Cycling Ireland board in robust debate over McQuaid nomination for UCI president

Some of CI’s board were uneasy about backing McQuaid for a third term

Pat McQuaid, president of the UCI, was first elected in 2005. Photograph: Inpho

Pat McQuaid, president of the UCI, was first elected in 2005. Photograph: Inpho

Sat, Apr 13, 2013, 07:00

Meeting yesterday evening for what was a crucial decision in relation to Pat McQuaid’s aim of securing a third term as UCI president, Cycling Ireland’s board spent several hours debating whether it would nominate him for election. Late last night the board had still not reached a decision.

Elected in 2005 and again in 2009, McQuaid had received a nomination from Cycling Ireland on both of those occasions. This time things were more complicated, with the Lance Armstrong/US Postal Service team doping scandal sending shockwaves through the sport last autumn. The UCI came under criticism for its previous dealings with Armstrong, for former president Hein Verbruggen’s repeated insistence the Texan had always been a clean rider, and for the governing body’s handling of matters during the investigation.

It also came under fire for what transpired with the independent commission it set up. When the UCI accepted Usada’s decision in October and declared it would not contest the lifetime ban imposed on Armstrong by that agency, McQuaid said the governing body would agree to an objective audit of the UCI’s behaviour through the years. He said he was confident the UCI would be cleared of all wrongdoing.

McQuaid stated such a commission would established and run by a neutral three member panel. That duly happened, but in January the UCI then disbanded the commission, complaining that it wasn’t supported by Wada and Usada.

The reason for their reluctance was clearly stated at the time: the two agencies had said the witnesses were not sufficiently protected from sanction or punishment, and wanted the UCI to agree to an amnesty.

The independent commission itself echoed those calls, saying it felt such a measure was necessary. Rather than agreeing to that, however, the UCI scrapped that enquiry and said that it would instead consider a wider truth and reconciliation process. Crucially, if that did take place, it would not happen until after the UCI elections, meaning McQuaid would not have to deal with any findings prior to going for a third term.

Since then, there have been no developments in relation to the truth and reconciliation process, meaning the issues uncovered by the Usada report remain unresolved, vis-à-vis the questions about the UCI.

This uncertainty was one of the reasons why some of Cycling Ireland’s board were uneasy about backing McQuaid for a third term.

The Irish Times understands “robust” discussions continued on late into last night.

The UCI elections will be held during the week of the world road race championships in Italy in September. If McQuaid does not receive the Irish federation’s backing, he has the option of requesting a nomination from the Swiss federation as he lives in that country. However having to go that route would undoubtedly be a setback.