McQuaid to abide by Friday’s vote, win or lose
The Irishman says he will walk away if he fails to win a third term as UCI President
Brian Cookson (left) and Pat McQuaid will battle it out in Friday’s vote for the UCI Presidency. Photograph: PA Wire/Reuters.
Irishman Pat McQuaid has promised not to prolong the bitter battle over the presidency of the International Cycling Union (UCI) if he is deposed from office by British challenger Brian Cookson in Friday’s vote.
The winner requires at least 22 of the 42 votes to prevail in Florence and, although he is confident of being elected to serve a third four-year term in office, McQuaid will accept the result if it does not go his way.
He hopes Cookson will, too, in a presidential race which has featured numerous verbal barbs, criticisms and controversy over the legislation and its interpretation.
McQuaid, UCI president since 2005, told Press Association Sport: “I would hope that the vote would bring an end to all that. I know if I lose I certainly won’t be looking to make a legal challenge. I’d walk away. I would hope my opponent would do the same.”
Cookson has publicised his endorsements — from national federations to high-profile ex-riders such as Sir Chris Hoy — while McQuaid has opted to take a different tact.
“I do have a lot of support from within the sport itself, but I’m not going around listing names every day of people who are supporting me,” McQuaid said.
“I’ve enough to be doing to continue my job in running the UCI than looking for endorsements, or whatever.”
McQuaid’s bid for re-election suffered a blow when delegates of the European Cycling Union, which has 14 votes, opted to back Cookson.
McQuaid said: “It wasn’t a big surprise to me, because one of his supporters is Igor Makarov, the Russian oligarch (president of the Russian Cycling Federation and member of the UCI management committee).
“He carries a lot of influence within the European federations. He also provided Europe with a one million Euro sponsorship deal some months ago. I think his influence was brought to bear.”
Asked whether he expects the European voters to change their vote in his favour, McQuaid said: “We’ll have to wait and see. I wouldn’t speculate on that.”
Makarov is one of those to have publicly backed Cookson, along with Bernard Hinault.
In his support of the Briton, five-time Tour de France winner Hinault said “no organisation should accept people having more than two consecutive terms. That is not democracy.”
Hinault added: “That is being asleep when life has to be a permanent evolution, and cycling must be like that too. We need to clean what is in place. Cycling needs news ideas, new solutions.”
McQuaid insists he is already cleaning up cycling and that he requires a third and final term to complete unfinished business.
“I want to tidy it up and then at the end of the four years to step away,” the 64-year-old said.
McQuaid was critical of Hinault’s comments on the length of service, insisting the demands of the job mean it takes time.
“It’s a lot more involved than a lot of people think,” McQuaid said.
“You need to develop relationships with your federations, 175 federations, you need to visit them, meet with their governments and ministers and develop relationships with them, in order to ask them to help develop the sport in the country.
“You’re there to create relationships with your other international colleagues, with WADA (the World Anti-doping Agency), with the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and various bodies and that all takes time.
“You’ve got another term to continue to develop the sport and utilise the relationships you have.”
Time is required to make an impact, McQuaid argues, particularly in a sport such as cycling where doping has been so prevalent and made such a blot on the sport.
“Changing a culture does take time. We’re in a programme of doing it and there’s a lot of evidence that the sport is cleaning up; it’s a lot cleaner than it was when I came into it.
“The culture change takes a bit more time and that’s work that is ongoing. That’s all work that is going to take another two or three years. That’s on top of the testing and biological passport and all those things.
“That’s why I want this last four years to do that and it will only be four years. I will definitely be stepping down at the end of that time.”