• Cycling

'Desperate' McQuaid again under fire

ESPN staff
July 31, 2013
Pat McQuaid is accused of 'undemocratically and unconstitutionally' interference © Getty Images

Cycling's ability to shred its public image was again to the fore yesterday as Pat McQuaid, the incumbent president of the UCI, the sport's governing body, was accused of underhand tactics in his bid to win a third term of office.

McQuaid is a deeply divisive figure who has remained at the helm through some of cycling's darkest days. He is being challenged in September's elections by Brian Cookson, the president of British Cycling.

To McQuaid's embarrassment, his own country, the Republic of Ireland, refused to nominate him for re-election. Under UCI rules, a candidates home nation has to put their chosen individual forward. McQuaid, who has lived in Switzerland, instead was nominated by this Swiss, although this decision is being challenged in the courts.

Now there is a proposal being pushed through to allow anyone to stand with two nominations from any federation.

"This latest twist appears to be nothing more than a fraught attempt to undemocratically and unconstitutionally impact on the process while it is under way," Cookson said. "It's no wonder that many in the cycling family as well as fans and sponsors have lost faith in the UCI to govern ethically when the man at the top of the organisation is prepared to embarrass an entire sport in an attempt to try to cling on to power.

"What sort of organisation attempts to rewrite the rules once an election has actually begun? It smacks of attempted dictatorship."

Mike Plant, the former head of US Cycling, is also far from happy. "The timing of this significant change to the presidential nomination process, less than 60 days from a very contested, globally visible and important election is unconscionable, unethical, dishonest, unprofessional, manipulative and destructive."

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