By Tim Maloney, Cyclingnews European Editor
The UCI has hit out at its Management Committee member Sylvia Schenk following of her complaint to the International Olympic Committee's Ethics Commission about Road Commission President and UCI president-elect Pat McQuaid's involvement with the UCI. In a communique issued on Friday, the UCI's Management Committee stated that it would be "stopping all relations with her with immediate effect."
Sylvia Schenk's complaint stemmed from what she believed was an abuse of Article 52 of the UCI Constitution: "No member of the Management Committee shall be bound by an employment or service contract with the UCI, a federation or a continental confederation at the same time."
Schenk, the former head of the German Cycling Federation (BDR), a Frankfurt attorney, and former German Olympic runner, was the first woman elected to head the BDR in 2001. During her term, she brought a strong level of oversight and strict governance to the BDR. In June 2004, Schenk made a controversial demand for the sacking of BDR sports director Burkhard Bremer, who Schenk claimed didn't properly pursue doping allegations. Schenk said Bremer didn't inform her of the results of a health check carried out on one of the BDR Olympic team pursuit members in June 2004, that allegedly revealed abnormal blood values. She subsequently resigned as BDR head in September 2004, but will retain her seat on the UCI's management board until September 2005.
Alarmed by what she saw as clear violations of the UCI Constitution, Schenk filed a complaint against the UCI with the International Olympic Committee's Ethics Commission in late June about Pat McQuaid's current status with the UCI. Head of the UCI's Road Commission, McQuaid is outgoing UCI President Hein Verbruggen's choice as a successor.
An Irish citizen, McQuaid moved to Switzerland with his family in February, 2005 to work at the UCI HQ in Aigle in an allegedly paid position. Last Friday, Schenk told French sports daily L'Equipe that she had filed her complaint with the IOC because "a member of the UCI Management Committee can't have a contract with the UCI. It's very clearly written.
"I have requested information about Pat McQuaid's contract with the UCI, but I've had no responses so far. I know that he's living in Switzerland and his work is with the UCI, and his wife has left his job in Ireland and isn't working. So in order to live, (McQuaid) must be making something. If that's the case, it's in violation of the UCI Constitution.
"Verbruggen has said that the Management Committee had voted to provide McQuaid with compensation to repay him for all the time he's put in at the UCI, but that's not true because I'm a member of the Management Committee and there has never been a vote on this matter."
Schenk's complaint to the IOC's Ethics Committee will be examined by Judge Pâquerette Girard-Zapelli, who will then send his report on this matter to the eight members of the IOC Ethics Committee headed by Judge Keba M'Baye of Senegal.
After Schenk's L'Equipe interview, the UCI then issued a strident communique that expressed "solidarity to the persons touched by Mrs. Schenk's action, which attains to their respectability as well as to that of the whole Federations and its members. The UCI's Management Committee considers Mrs Schenk's behaviour, herself member of the same Management Committee until next September, as totally unacceptable, and decides that all relations with her will be stopped with immediate effect."
This preemptive action mean that Schenk will now effectively be frozen out from any further inclusion in UCI Management Committee meetings or communications. Furthermore, the UCI Management Committee said in an increasingly paranoid tone that "this action by Mrs. Schenk is evidently keeping in the frame of the manoeuvres aiming to disrupt the election of the new UCI President, and is in conflict with her agreement to the consensual agreement expressed by the UCI Management Committee in favour of Mr. Pat McQuaid two years ago in Hamilton." However, there is no proof offered that Schenk's motivation had anything to do with any manoeuvres to disrupt the election of the new UCI President.
The UCI communique then attempted to further smear Schenk's reputation, saying "the Management Committee had to note with regret that after her forced resignation from her position as President of the German Cycling Federation (BDR), and because of the numerous controversies which have characterized her mandate, Mrs Schenk has launched herself into a campaign aiming to unsettle the internal balance of the UCI. Deprived of her Federation's support, and consequently of all other ambition thereof, Mrs Schenk has been able to concentrate solely on her new objective, trying to do everything possible to reach her goal."
Again, there is no substantive proof offered to back up these provocative accusations by the UCI Press Service in their release. As Sylvia Schenk's IOC ethics complaint against the UCI proceeds, and the polemics increase between the UCI and the Grand Tour organizers on the ProTour and succession issues at the UCI, a real crisis of governance looms at the UCI as lame duck President Hein Verbruggen's term ends in less than 60 days time.