McQuaid’s re-election bid continues to attract criticism
“Crazy structure of the UCI was created over the years to support the incumbent president in power”
Pat McQuaid, who is seeking a third term as president of the International Cycling Union
Allegations of underhanded dealing, sinister plotting and cheating are nothing new in cycling. For a change, though, the sport is mired in a controversy that has nothing do with doping or racing, at least directly.
Instead the issue comes from a series of involved steps by Pat McQuaid, the international cycling federation’s president, to retain his post through retroactive rule changes.
Already a polarising figure after two terms as president and 15 years in senior positions at the International Cycling Union, which is most widely known by its French acronym, UCI, McQuaid has baffled and angered prominent members of the cycling community with his latest manoeuvres.
Perhaps more surprising is the prospect that the Irishman, who as president since 2005 has led the sport during a period of crisis that undermined the sport’s credibility, could still be re-elected despite widespread opposition.
“I don’t think we’ve ever seen such of period of discontent,” said Bob Stapleton, a director of USA Cycling and the owner of the now defunct Highroad professional cycling team. “But the crazy structure of the UCI was created over the years to support the incumbent president in power.”
That power is being tested as never before. On September 27th, during cycling’s world championships in Italy, 42 delegates will gather in Florence to elect the federation’s next president to a four-year term. McQuaid’s greatest struggle, and perhaps a telling indictment of his tenure, has been his difficulty in simply getting onto the ballot.
Under the cycling union’s constitution, McQuaid is required to be nominated by “the federation of the candidate.” Traditionally, that has been interpreted to mean the country of the candidate’s citizenship, which is Ireland in McQuaid’s case.
But in June, Cycling Ireland, the governing body of cycling in Ireland, turned down McQuaid. Now a resident of Switzerland, where the UCI has its headquarters, McQuaid joined that country’s federation and initially secured its nomination. But that nomination, too, was revoked last month, after a challenge by some of the Swiss federation’s members.
Undeterred, McQuaid announced that he was being nominated by two nations with which he had no clear personal connection: Thailand and Morocco. Two other groups, the Malaysian National Cycling Federation and the Asian Cycling Confederation, have asked delegates to the presidential vote to change the UCI constitution retroactively to allow presidential candidates to be nominated by any two nations.
McQuaid, in an email message, declined to comment. But among those surprised and angered by McQuaid’s actions is Brian Cookson, the president of British Cycling and the only other candidate for the UCI job.