A legal challenge has been launched to the Swiss Cycling Federation’s nomination of Pat McQuaid to run for a third term as UCI president, while one of the members of the governing body’s management committee, Russian billionaire Igor Makarov, has hit back at allegations that he is orchestrating Brian Cookson’s bid for the presidency.
The latest developments in what looks like turning into an acrimonious campaign between the McQuaid and Cookson, president of British Cycling and the sole rival candidate to have so far decided to stand, come a week before Cycling Ireland holds an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) next Saturday at which delegates will vote upon whether to endorse the current UCI president’s candidacy.
That EGM was convened after Cycling Ireland’s board initially backed McQuaid standing for a third term, a decision subsequently rendered invalid on a technical point; instead of the board reconvening to vote again, the calling of an EGM means it will now be delegates representing member clubs who will decide the issue, and expectations are they will reject the nomination.
Last month, the Swiss Cycling Federation announced that it was nominating McQuaid, who is a resident of the country, which is also where the UCI is based. However that is now being challenged by compression clothing company Skins, founded in Australia but now headquartered in Switzerland, and former Swiss national coach, Kurt Buergi.
In a statement issued last night, they said:
The Presidential election requires a candidate to be a member of an affiliated Federation, but SKINS and Kurt Buergi contest that Swiss Cycling was not constitutionally able to officially support Mr. McQuaid and that the endorsement is therefore null and void. As a confirmed member of Cycling Ireland, Mr. McQuaid has already sought endorsement from the Irish Federation and membership of two Federations is not permitted under the UCI constitution.
Additionally, SKINS and Herr Buergi suggest that the meeting which resulted in the Swiss Cycling announcement was irregular because the alleged vote to endorse Mr McQuaid did not occur. Consequently, a blatantly inaccurate interpretation of the meeting’s outcome resulted in a unilateral decision by the President of Swiss Cycling to announce the endorsement.
If successful, the action will mean that the only opportunity for Mr. McQuaid to receive an endorsement to stand for re-election as President of the UCI, will come when members vote at Cycling Ireland’s EGM in Dublin on June 15th.
Skins chairman Jaimie Fuller, co-founder of Change Cycling Now and a strong critic of McQuaid, said: Kurt Buergi has strong reasons to contest the Swiss Federation’s announcement and, as a sponsor of cycling we’re delighted to support him. We have openly said we would partner with anyone who had a constitutional right to make a legal challenge and this action confirms that the EGM in Ireland next week, really matters.
“There has been a suggestion that the Swiss announcement rendered the Irish vote as meaningless but the members of Cycling Ireland should be in no doubt that their vote really does count. If Cycling Ireland’s members vote against endorsement, this (legal) action could then finally close the door on the prospect of a further term of office for the current President.
“I have personally sought clarification of the Swiss Federation’s meeting in May from the members present, but, as is their right, they have refused to provide details. It will be a very different matter when under oath in a court of law.”
Meanwhile, energy tycoon Makarov, who besides sitting on the UCI management board is also president of the Russian Cycling Federation and owner of the Katusha team, has responded to McQuaid’s letter on Monday, calling for it to be referred to the UCI Ethics Committee.
McQuaid’s letter was sent by email to the presidents of all national federations advising them that Cookson had informed him of his intention to stand, with the UCI president accusing the Briton of in effect being Makarov’s pawn.
In a statement issued yesterday via his Itera holding company, Makarov's press office said:
Using the name of Mr. Igor Makarov, current President of Cycling Federation of Russia, Head of the Russian Cycling Development Project and a Member of UCI Management Committee in relations to UCI presidential race is unethical and hopes that UCI Ethics Committee will consider reviewing Mr. McQuaid’s actions and the nature of his letter in accordance to the UCI Code of Ethics.
Pertaining to Mr. McQuaid’s questions, expressed in the letter, we wanted to mention that for the last three years Itera, a company headed by Mr. Makarov, has been an official sponsor of the European Cycling Union and this fact has never raised any concerns in the past.
One of democracy’s main principal is a freedom of choice. And because of that principal, Mr. Cookson’s candidacy, just as anyone else’s for that matter, cannot be considered as “odd”. Mr. Cookson has utilized his right, nothing more. And concerning the meeting of Mr. Makarov and Mr. Cookson – it was not “secretive” and took place within the scope of cooperation between national cycling federations. Corresponding press release was published on the official site of Russian Cycling Federation on May 15, 2013 (http://fvsr.ru/federation-news/1344--c-.html). Moreover, being President of Cycling Federation of Russia and a Member of UCI Management Committee, Igor Makarov is repeatedly meeting with the representatives of other national federations and the UCI.
Concerning the license that was striped [sic] from the World Tour team Katusha, it was reinstated by the most democratic way possible – through an Arbitrary Court of Sports (CAS) that has fully confirmed the illegitimacy of the UCI Licensing Committee actions.
In conclusion, the press-service of Igor Makarov would like to wish good luck and fair competition to all participants of UCI presidential race and a well-deserved victory to the best one.
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.