Skins chairman Jaimie Fuller on Tuesday claimed that the Swiss cycling federation has withdrawn its controversial nomination of UCI president Pat McQuaid in the forthcoming presidential election.
Fuller has been funding a challenge to Swiss Cycling's nomination of McQuaid by three Swiss federation members, Mattia Galli, Patrick Calcagni and Kurt Buergi. According to the Australian, McQuaid had been attempting to get the legal challenge thrown out of court.
"Somebody from McQuaid's team spoke to someone from the Swiss federation and urged them to use the fact that I had Tweeted looking for a member of Swiss cycling to challenge the decision that I could financially support," explained Fuller. "That was what McQuaid thought that they could base their whole case on, that the three guys were not genuine and that this had nothing to with them and they didn’t care. He wanted to argue that this was just down to me manipulating them and manipulating the system."
Fuller has been able to satisfy Swiss Cycling that this is not the case and, fearing the legal costs they would face if the case went to arbitration and they lost, they today withdrew their support from McQuaid.
Both Pat McQuaid and his spokesman Ian McClure were quick to deny that Swiss Cycling had withdrawn its support, McQuaid telling Cyclingnews that:
"As far as I'm concerned it's complete bullshit. I know there's a hearing on Thursday. I've had communication from the Swiss federation and it's going ahead. It's [a] scandalous report from someone and Newstalk has picked up on it. It's all the usual culprits and they're talking about it on Twitter."
Fuller, however, is firm and insists that a meeting did take place, but that McQuaid's people were not informed about it.
"There was a phone call to Swiss Cycling this morning from McQuaid's people, the response was thank you very much," he said. "There was no visibility into the fact Swiss Cycling were meeting to withdraw the nomination, which is what happened.
"This is locked up. I have a copy of the communication that was sent to the arbitration panel. It says, please understand that, today, Swiss Cycling's board met and took a vote and we have now withdrawn the nomination and there is no need to proceed to arbitration. Regardless of what McQuaid's spokesmen say, this is locked in stone."
McQuaid's hopes in the September presidential election now rest on his contentious interpretation of Article 51 of the UCI constitution and whether that allows his nomination by the Moroccan and Thai federations. According to Fuller, this too will be challenged, and that challenge will be boosted by today's decision.
"Under the Swiss system the withdrawal of the nomination can be added to the case around the bad faith interpretation of the constitution and article 51," he explained.
Fuller's understanding is that the Moroccan and Thai nominations will be challenged by a consortium of federations from Europe, Oceania and North America saying, "There are currently plans for a challenge. I'm not officially involved, I'm not a party, but I'm aware of those plans."
What will happen now?
In Fuller's analysis, that legal challenge is unlikely to be necessary as, he feels, federations will see today's decision by Swiss Cycling as the cue to roll in behind McQuaid's challenger in the presidential election, British Cycling's Brian Cookson:
"You will find tomorrow that Cookson's phone will be ringing off the hook with people telling him 'we really want to support you.' This will absolutely crucify any confidence in McQuaid," said Fuller.
Earlier today Geneva-based lawyers from Baker & McKenzie addressed concerns raised by British Cycling and their legal representatives Lenz & Staehelin as to the conduct of the election process so far. According to Baker & McKenzie:
a) the retroactive element of the constitutional amendment proposed by the Malaysian federation and Asian confederation should be considered as valid;
b) the UCI administration did not contravene any rules in the way they suggested alternative wording for the propose constitutional amendment; and
c) that the Moroccan and Thai nominations of McQuaid were received by the UCI on June 26 and June 29, ahead of the original closing dare for nomination (June 29).
The UCI's presidential election will take place during the World Championships in Florence, on September 27.