Swiss Cycling’s president Richard Chassot is under pressure from fellow board members to withdraw the body's nomination of Pat McQuaid for UCI president. It has emerged that McQuaid, the current head of the UCI, only became a member in May this year of the national federation of the country where world cycling’s governing body is based, and where he has lived since 2005.
The Zurich-based newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung says that one of the reasons why Swiss Cycling is being urged to withdraw its backing is the legal challenge launched by Skins chairman Jaimie Fuller as well as former Swiss national coach Kurt Buergi, subsequently joined by ex-board member Mattia Galli and former pro cyclist Patrick Calcagni.
The cash-strapped federation could reportedly face a bill of up to 100,000 Swiss Francs should the decision of a three-member arbitration panel presided over by law professor Lukas Handschin, which meets on 22 August to decide the issue, go against it.
Initially, the board of Cycling Ireland, which had nominated McQuaid in 2005 and 2009, backed him in April to stand for a third term at the election, which will take place during the UCI World Congress in Florence next month.
However, a procedural breach of Cycling Ireland’s constitution resulted in the nomination, which had provoked an outcry from many of the federation’s members, being withdrawn. The issue was put to a vote at an Emergency General Meeting in Dublin in June, with McQuaid’s nomination rejected.
Article 51 of the UCI’s own constitution provides that “the candidates for the presidency shall be nominated by the federation of the candidate.” and it did not seem especially unusual that the former professional rider would be a member of the federations of both his home country and the one in which he lives.
But the Neue Zürcher Zeitung’s report appears to confirm suspicions held in some quarters that McQuaid only joined Swiss Cycling out of expedience to secure an alternative nomination for this September’s election should he not secure one from Cycling Ireland, which had nominated him in 2005 and 2009.
Should Swiss Cycling withdraw McQuaid’s nomination – or be forced to do so as a result of that arbitration hearing – then the current UCI president’s last throw of the dice if he is to contest to the end what has been a fractious election campaign with his sole opponent, British Cycling president Brian Cookson, will depend on a controversial proposed rule change to the UCI constitution.
Last week, it was revealed that the Malaysian Federation and Asian Continental Confederation had proposed a change to Article 51 of the UCI constitution, which would allow future UCI presidential candidates to be nominated by any two member federations.
The UCI announced that exceptionally, that amendment, if voted through, would be applied retrospectively to this year’s election, and the Thai and Moroccan federations have also said that they would nominate McQuaid, who has admitted to being a member of “six or seven” federations.
That proposed rule change, and particularly the stated intention to backdate it, was greeted with astonishment from many within the sport, with Cookson, who has promised to restore credibility the governing body if elected as well as hold an independent inquiry into the UCI’s role in the sport’s recent doping scandals, saying it reflected an “attempted dictatorship” of the organisation on McQuaid’s part.
UCI management board member Igor Makarov, also president of the Russian federation and owner of the Katusha team, has said that he plans to launch a legal challenge to the attempted change to Article 51.
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.