McQuaid says he will walk away if defeated in UCI presidential election

Incumbent UCI president Pat McQuaid has promised to accept defeat and walk away if he loses the presidential election to British rival Brian Cookson during the UCI Congress on Friday in Florence.

The election is decided by the votes of 42 delegates who represent the multitude of national federations and the continental confederations.

The Irishman has been locked in a tense election campaign, fighting to ensure he has a valid candidacy and enough votes to secure a third term in office.

“I would hope that the vote would bring an end to all that. I know if I lose I certainly won’t be looking to make a legal challenge. I’d walk away. I would hope my opponent would do the same,” McQuaid told the British Press Association news agency.

Despite failing to secure the backing of the European Cycling Union and its precious 14 votes, McQuaid remains confident he can defeat Cookson. He is believed to have support in Asia, Africa and parts of South America after years of courting their support.

Makarov's €1million donation to the European Cycling Union

McQuaid insisted that the loss of the European votes at a recent special assembly of the European Cycling Union was not a blow to his hopes of re-election, and he accused the president of the Russian Cycling Federation, Igor Makarov, of using his financial wealth and influence to sway the vote. Makarov has publicly backed Cookson and employed special investigators to amass evidence and compile a secret dossier of damning accusations of corruption against McQuaid.

“It wasn’t a big surprise to me, because one of his supporters is Igor Makarov, the Russian oligarch. He carries a lot of influence within the European federations. He also provided Europe with a €1million sponsorship deal some months ago. I think his influence was brought to bear,” McQuaid is reported as saying by the Press Association.

Four more years

McQuaid has based his election campaign on the work he has done to clean up professional cycling in recent years and is asking for a third term so that he can complete the task.

He denies he has any responsibility for the long series of doping scandals. He has flatly denied any complicity in covering up Lance Armstrong’s years of doping, despite a series of accusations against him.

“I want to tidy it up and then at the end of the four years to step away,” the 64-year-old Irishman said.

“Changing a culture does take time. We’re in a programme of doing it and there’s a lot of evidence that the sport is cleaning up; it’s a lot cleaner than it was when I came into it.

“The culture change takes a bit more time and that’s work that is ongoing. That’s all work that is going to take another two or three years. That’s on top of the testing and biological passport and all those things. That’s why I want this last four years to do that and it will only be four years. I will definitely be stepping down at the end of that time.”

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Stephen Farrand
Head of News

Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has been Head of News at Cyclingnews since 2022, before which he held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and CyclingWeekly, among other publications.