McQuaid loses backing of Swiss Cycling in bid for third term
UCI president now requires change to regulations to remain in contest
Pat McQuaid’s bid for a third term as president of the UCI has suffered a further setback after Swiss Cycling confirmed it has withdrawn its nomination of him. Photograph: Tim Ireland/PA
Pat McQuaid’s bid for a third term as president of the International Cycling Union has suffered a further setback after Swiss Cycling confirmed it has withdrawn its nomination of him.
The Irishman, a Swiss resident since being appointed UCI president in 2005, failed to win the backing of Cycling Ireland and sought a nomination from Swiss Cycling instead.
The nomination was scheduled to come before an arbitration board in Zurich on Thursday, with McQuaid confident of success, but now that process has been cancelled.
A statement from Swiss Cycling read: “The director of the Swiss Cycling committee returned to the decision of May 13, 2013 concerning the appointment of Pat McQuaid and yesterday decided to withdraw the nomination of Pat McQuaid for his re-election as president of the UCI.
“Consequently, the arbitration requested by the three members of Swiss Cycling is cancelled, since there is no reason.”
McQuaid is being challenged for the presidency by Brian Cookson, the British Cycling president since 1996.
Yet the presidential battle may not now reach a vote in Florence next month, as McQuaid appears to require a change to legislation to be eligible.
The amendment allowed McQuaid to be nominated by the Thai and Moroccan federations and was proposed by the Malaysian federation and the Asian confederation, but its use in the current presidential race could be determined by lawyers.
Cookson believes McQuaid’s position is ever more precarious following Swiss Cycling’s decision to withdraw its nomination.
Cookson said in a statement: “This latest development is of real significance to the presidential election process.
“It leaves Mr McQuaid in a very difficult position, particularly when viewed alongside his failure to receive a nomination from his own national federation as required under the constitution of the UCI.
“It also places further question marks against his other ‘nominations’ whose validity is in serious doubt and remain a matter of genuine concern to many in the cycling world.
“No attempts at manipulation and legal bluster can take away the doubts and questions.
“The important principle in any democracy is that you must respect the rules as they are, not how you’d like them to be.
“My hope remains that we have a democratic process based on the rules of the race when it started rather than those made up half way through.”
McQuaid believes the action against him in Switzerland was instigated by Jaimie Fuller, owner of sportswear firm Skins, who funded the Change Cycling Now pressure group and, according to the UCI president, has commercial motives for his actions.
Speaking prior to Swiss Cycling’s announcement on Wednesday, McQuaid, who described his lack of backing from Cycling Ireland as “unfortunate”, told Press Association Sport: “He (Fuller) actually canvassed Switzerland, looking for three Swiss Cycling members that he would fund and he would pay for to bring this process against Swiss Cycling and their decision to support me.”
Fuller was among the first to react to the decision.
“This should finally signal an end to Mr McQuaid’s quest for re-election,” Fuller said in a statement.
“Mr McQuaid should now accept that the writing is on the wall and stop this ridiculous charade.
“His latest stunt of attempting to introduce retrospective changes to the UCI constitution reflect a man who is both delusional and despotic; his arrogance knows no bounds.
“His fellow countrymen in Ireland had second thoughts when they withdrew their endorsement and now the Swiss have done the same. I would hope that, by now, Mr McQuaid is getting the message.”
The UCI on Tuesday announced legal opinion from Baker & McKenzie that the proposed constitutional amendment was valid and will be incorporated in next month’s election.
Article 51.1 of the UCI constitution states that “the candidates for the presidency shall be nominated by the federation of the candidate”.
The suggested new wording reads that candidates should be nominated by their federation, or “two federations other than the federation of the candidate”, meaning despite losing the backing of the Irish and Swiss federations, McQuaid’s nomination is valid, according to Baker & McKenzie.
A UCI statement read: “Following a query from legal advisors to British Cycling regarding the Malaysian national federation’s proposal to amend Article 51.1 of the UCI’s constitution and the nominations of UCI president Pat McQuaid, a legal opinion from the global law firm Baker & McKenzie has confirmed that the UCI followed its procedures correctly.
“The opinion from the Geneva office of Baker & McKenzie confirmed that the nominations of Pat McQuaid by the national federations of Morocco and Thailand had both been properly submitted to the UCI before the deadline for submissions.
“In addition, Baker & McKenzie confirmed that the proposed change to Article 51.1 of the UCI Constitution proposed by the Malaysian National Federation and the Asian Cycling Confederation had been properly submitted, that the alleged retroactive elements in the transitional provision were valid under Swiss law – and that the proposal was correctly included on the agenda of the UCI Congress in September.”