McQuaid launches re-election manifesto

The Irishman who is head of cycling’s world governing body outlines his vision for the future of the sport

 Pat McQuaid. Photograph: Harold Cunningham/Getty Images

Pat McQuaid. Photograph: Harold Cunningham/Getty Images

Mon, Jul 8, 2013, 12:29

Pat McQuaid, the head of cycling’s world governing body, emphasised his commitment to the fight against doping as he launched his manifesto for re-election today.

The Irishman was elected as president of the UCI in 2005, since when the sport has continued to be dogged by doping accusations and revelations, culminating in the exposure of seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong as a drug cheat last year.

McQuaid’s manifesto is titled ‘A Bright Future for a Changed Sport’. He said: “I am delighted to launch my re-election campaign and to present my vision for cycling’s future to the cycling family whose support over the past eight years has enabled me to transform our sport.

“Cycling has changed since I was first elected as UCI president in 2005. It is now a global sport. It is now possible to race and win clean. We have travelled a great distance together and we must never turn back from cycling’s bright future,” he added.

McQuaid’s opponent Brian Cookson, the president of British Cycling, has claimed change is needed to rebuild trust in the UCI.

McQuaid set out four priorities for the next four years, including “to preserve the new culture and era of clean cycling. My mission now is to preserve the changed culture within the peloton and team entourage.

“I have introduced the most sophisticated and effective anti-doping infrastructure in world sport to cycling. Our sport is leading the way and I am proud that other sports are following in its footsteps.

“The UCI now invests over $7.5million a year to keep our sport clean and to catch and prosecute those riders who refuse to embrace the new culture of clean cycling. The misdeeds of a few should not be allowed to tarnish the reputation of cycling or today’s riders.”

McQuaid is a controversial figure, though, who has been accused of failing the sport by not doing enough to tackle systematic doping. The issue of drugs has certainly tarnished his, and his predecessor Hein Verbruggen’s, reign.

Cookson has been a fierce critic of the UCI’s handling of the Armstrong affair.

But writing in his manifesto, McQuaid said: “I stand four-square behind my record in cycling.” McQuaid proposed a series of initiatives to combat doping, including establishing an independent audit of the UCI’s actions during the years when Armstrong was winning the Tour de France (1999-2005).

He promised to make the UCI’s Cycling Anti Doping Foundation more independent and help fund it by increasing the UCI World Tour teams’ contributions to anti-doping.

McQuaid also vowed to end the inequality between men’s and women’s cycling by establishing an independent UCI Women’s Commission with responsibility for developing all disciplines of women’s cycling.

“I will bring a new focus to the development of women’s cycling. It is not acceptable that women in cycling do not receive the same pay, prize money and conditions as men. It is past time for this inequality to be brought to an end,” he said. His other manifesto aims are: to modernise the way that cycling is presented as a global sport and to foster the global development of cycling. The election will take place at the UCI congress in September.