UCI president calls on British Cycling to call off legal challenge, Cookson decries “desperate manoeuvres and outbursts"
The war of words between incumbent UCI president Pat McQuaid and challenger Brian Cookson continues to roll on as the elections at the world road race championships in Tuscany nears.
BCookson has recently asked lawyers to look into whether Pat McQuaid's nomination for re-election as president of the UCI can be legally challenged, describing the attempts the change the election process as smacking of attempted dictatorship. Now McQuaid has fired back. The Irishman has called for Cookson to call off the attorneys and let the UCI members decide things at the UCI Congress during the world championships.
McQuaid was first nominated by his home federation, Ireland, which subsequently withdrew its support. He was then nominated by Swiss Cycling, saying that he was a member of that federation, having lived in Switzerland while UCI President. However it has recently been disclosed that McQuaid only joined Swiss Cycling this past spring. Members of the Swiss federation are challenging the nomination, with a decision due on August 22.
McQuiad was then nominated by the Thai and Moroccan federations, with a proposal to change the nomination process but questions remain as to whether they can nominate him, since he is not a member, and whether the nomination deadline had passed.
British Cycling lawyers will be looking into the nomination procedures, but McQuaid on Friday issued a statement expressing his outrage and questioning Cookson's motives. He “questioned whether Cookson was trying to avoid an election and to eliminate him from the race by associating himself with his federation's legal challenge to matters concerning the governance of the election.”
McQuaid added “that he was appalled that British Cycling, in a letter from its lawyers, suggested the UCI had accepted his nominations from the Thai and Moroccan cycling federations after the closing date for nominations."
“That is an outrageous suggestion. Brian must immediately make a statement on whether he believes that to be true and if he believes otherwise he has duty to ensure that this allegation is publicly withdrawn.”
He also noted that the legal challenge to the Swiss nomination has been financed by a private company “with a vested interest in the outcome of the election.”
The finances are being provided by Jamie Fuller,of the cycling clothing company Skins.
“I do not fear an open election and I am not at all concerned by my ability to secure the support and votes that I require to be re-elected as UCI President. While it would appear that Brian has lost confidence in his own ability I continue to challenge him to allow the UCI Congress and its voting delegates to decide,” McQuaid concluded.
"Sadly today we have seen yet another attempt by the existing UCI President, Pat McQuaid, to denigrate the current presidential election process,” Cookson said in a press release.
"I want nothing more than an open and properly conducted democratic election and vote for the UCI presidency. To suggest otherwise is nonsense.”
He said that he and many others in the sport “have legitimate and growing concerns about the retrospective rule bending and attempted manipulation that is taking place at present. In my view it is therefore absolutely correct that British Cycling and others have raised concerns regarding proposed rule changes which have a direct impact on the election process now under way. These concerns need to be addressed.
"Far from ducking these issues, for the good of cycling and the reputation of the UCI, it is critical that openness and transparency guide our procedures and not desperate manoeuvres and outbursts by Mr McQuaid."