UCI Management Committee member Mike Plant has expressed his disappointment on the organisation's Executive Board's decision to turn down the petition of six cycling federations including USA Cycling to have the Court of Arbitration for Sport rule on how the UCI's Constitution should be interpreted. In a letter to Artur Lopes, the vice president of the board, Plant says the three members who voted on the matter misinterpreted what was being requested.
"As a member of the UCI Management Committee, I would ask the Executive Board to reconsider your initial ruling and ask CAS to provide the UCI and the voting delegates with a decision on the definition of Article 51.1 as it relates to the nomination of a candidate for the UCI Presidency," Plant wrote. "Without a ruling from CAS, questions will linger and the risk of a constitutional crisis will remain."
The UCI's executive board consists of current president Pat McQuaid, and three vice-presidents, Hee Wook Cho of Korea, Renato Di Rocco of Italy and Portugal's Lopes.
Following a meeting in which McQuaid recused himself from the discussions, the three unanimously decided that it was for the UCI Congress to decide upon election rules, not the CAS.
In the press releases, it was stated: "These federations had asked the UCI to submit the following question to CAS: 'Under Article 51.1 of the UCI Constitution, which federation(s) may submit a valid nomination for a prospective candidate for office of President of UCI?'"
Plant wrote that the issue is not which federation may nominate a candidate, but how the phrase "the federation of the candidate" - should be interpreted in relation to the country from which the presidential candidate must be nominated.
"I am surprised and disappointed that the UCI Executive Board clearly misunderstood the question that still needs to be resolved before the Congress convenes on September 27," Plant wrote, indicating that the Executive Board actually was discussing a separate issue, that of a proposed amendment to the Constitution from the Malaysian and Asian Cycling Federations, which would allow other nations to nominate a candidate. Those amendments are due to be heard by the UCI Congress ahead of the election.
"[The Petitioning Federations] specifically agreed that the proposed amendments would be heard by Congress: Their letter clearly states: “We [the Petitioning Federations] understand that Congress has the power to address the propriety of amending the election process, and it will speak when these matters are addressed in Florence."
The amendments put forth would allow McQuaid to be nominated by federations outside of his birth country, Ireland, or his residence, Switzerland, which would be commonly considered to be "the federation of the candidate". Both countries withdrew their nominations, but McQuaid was backed by Thailand and Morocco, to which he holds honorary membership.
However, the finer point of how to interpret the language of Article 51.1 is yet to be resolved, and as it stands, may not be decided upon prior to the election. Should the amendments fail, McQuaid's candidacy could very well face a legal challenge after the election, should he succeed in defeating his sole opponent, Brian Cookson.
"This is a critical question that must be resolved before congress as it will most certainly become a major issue should the proposed amendment fail.
"At this point in our history, it is entirely appropriate - and necessary - for a highly-respected, independent body such as CAS to resolve this specific question. A ruling by CAS would provide a much-needed degree of certainty for UCI delegates in knowing that the current and future candidates standing for election are in fact eligible to do so, and that the election results will be valid and not open to post-election legal challenge.
"As you now know, CAS confirmed this week that they are prepared to quickly convene a panel to hear and rule on this significant issue prior to the election in Florence."