UCI president Pat McQuaid’s re-election campaign troubles deepened yesterday when the president of the Russian cycling federation, Igor Makarov, threatened legal action if a proposed rule charge goes ahead.
The change to Article 51 of the constitution of cycling’s governing body would allow any two national federations to nominate a presidential candidate, and would be back-dated to allow the Thai and Moroccan federations to nominate McQuaid for this year’s presidential vote.
In a letter to Mr McQuaid and UCI director general Christophe Hubschmid, leaked to the Telegraph, Mr Makarov formally objects to the tabling of the rule change, and threatens to use “all legal means” to reverse the decision should it be passed.
Article 51 of the UCI constitution currently says that presidential candidates “shall be nominated by the federation of the candidate”.
The amended rule would set aside the traditional interpretation of Article 51, that this means only the candidate’s ‘home’ federation can nominate him, allowing candidates to seek nomination from any pair of federations. The rule change will require a 2/3rds majority of the 42 delegates at the UCI Congress on September 27.
Supporters of the rule change point out that it would allow a wider range of candidates if prospective UCI presidents can seek support more widely. Opponents say that it opens the potential for behind-the-scenes horse-trading of favours between candidates and minor federations, though there is no suggestion this has happened in the case of Mr McQuaid and the Thai and Moroccan federations.
His home federation Cycling Ireland initially nominated Mr McQuaid, but that was overturned on procedural grounds and a vote of the organisation’s member clubs elected not to support his candidacy.
Mr McQuaid then sought and secured nomination from the Swiss cycling federation, on the grounds that he has lived there for two decades. However, that nomination is mired in legal action brought by three members of Swiss Cycling and financially supported by Jaimie Fuller of clothing company Skins, a long-standing critic of Mr McQuaid.
In his letter, Mr Makarov wrote: “I take the opportunity of this letter to inform you that should this unlawful process be maintained, I already intend to challenge, by all legal means, any decision taken by the UCI Congress in this respect and any other infringements to the UCI constitution.
“I am astonished that the management committee members, despite being vested with the most extensive powers as regards the management of the UCI as per the constitution and regulations, have not been informed nor consulted regarding such modification of the electoral process.
“I will always be opposed to any modification that aims to circumvent the democratic principles and to favour one or several individuals to the detriment of the whole cycling community.
“The only person who will take advantage of an ‘anticipated’ modification of Article 51 of the UCI Constitution is undoubtedly, exclusively, the candidate Pat McQuaid.”
For everyone who's starting to think this is like an episode of Dallas, don't worry. We have it on good authority Hein Verbruggen will step out of the shower next week and tell us the last 16 years were all a dream.
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.