UCI president Pat McQuaid has rendered academic the prospect that Cycling Ireland will refuse to nominate him for a third term as UCI president by securing a nomination from the Swiss national federation instead.
Cycling Ireland last month nominated McQuaid to stand for a third time, a move that resulted in the resignation of its vice president Anto Moran and led to a Emergency General Meeting being convened for 15 June following outcry for many of its members.
The initial endrosement of McQuaid also attracted critcism in the press both in Ireland and abroad, with columnist Eamonn Sweeney of the Irish Independent congratuling Cycling Ireland's board on having managed to obtain mentions in headlines around the world, adding "It's just a shame you had to drag the sporting good name of the country through the shit to get them."
The national governing body subsequently withdrew its nomination pending that EGM, at which it was expected the vote would go against endorsing McQuaid, who has attracted heavy criticism in Ireland and abroad for issues including the decision to scrap the independent commission that the UCI set up to examine its own role in the Lance Armstrong scandal, to stand again as UCI president.
Around 850 people representing 300 member clubs are eligible to vote at the EGM, although only those actually present would be entitled to cast a vote, and opponents of McQuaid’s nomination had been mobilising themselves, including reportedly preparing a dossier outlining the case against him which was to have been circulated to those attending.
Under UCI rules, a person can be nominated as president not only by their own national federation, but also that of their country of residence – in McQuaid’s case, Switzerland, where the UCI is based.
The announcement that he had circumvented the potential embarrassment of that vote going against him by securing the nomination of Swiss Cycling was made this morning in a press release from the UCI itself.
In it, McQuaid said: “I am delighted that the board of Swiss Cycling has endorsed my nomination.
“I put myself forward to serve another term as UCI President on my record of developing the sport throughout the world and on combating the scourge of doping in cycling.
“I have an ambitious agenda to continue developing the sport. I look forward to presenting myself for election with the support of Swiss Cycling and other federations worldwide.
“I took up residency in Switzerland in 2005 when I assumed the role of UCI President and I have had a long association with Swiss Cycling.
“It has become clear that my nomination in Ireland has been politicised by a small group of people. However, I have received a wealth of letters from national federations all around the world urging me to stand for President again and I strongly believe that it should be for our national federations around the world to decide democratically on their next president.”
That “small group of people,” as McQuaid put it, appears to include a sizeable proportion of the rank and file members of Cycling Ireland.
Had the EGM vote not backed his candidacy, he would have had a week to secure the Swiss nomination before the 23 June deadline.
The fact that he has gone public now with news that Swiss Cycling has backed him not only renders that EGM, and the potential embarrassment it may have caused, null and void, but will also be interpreted in some quarters as a snub to the national federation, and its members, who helped put him into the top job in world cycling to begin with.
To date, no rival candidate has stepped forward to formally challenge McQuaid's re-election, with voting taking place at the UCI World Congress in September.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.