Proposed UCI election changes "smack of attempted dictatorship," says Cookson

UCI presidential candidate Brian Cookson has criticised a proposed amendment to the electoral process, decrying it as undemocratic, unconstitutional and “smacking of attempted dictatorship.”

The Malaysian Cycling Federation and the Asian Cycling Confederation have proposed altering article 51 of the UCI Constitution, which states that candidates for the UCI presidency must be nominated by their own federations.

Their proposal is that a candidate should receive the backing of any two federations rather than his/her home federation, a move that would essentially ensure that current incumbent Pat McQuaid is able to run for election in September even though Cycling Ireland refused to endorse his nomination.

“The efforts to change the nomination and electoral process announced last night on behalf of the UCI Director General are a clear sign of desperation from the incumbent President, Pat McQuaid,” Brian Cookson said in a statement released on Tuesday.

"This latest twist appears to be nothing more than a fraught attempt to undemocratically and unconstitutionally impact on the process while it is underway. It is no wonder that many in the cycling family as well as fans and sponsors have lost faith in the UCI to govern ethically when the man at the top of the organisation is prepared to embarrass an entire sport in an attempt to try and cling onto power."

After Cycling Ireland voted against backing McQuaid’s re-election bid, the Irishman instead received his nomination from the federation in Switzerland, where he resides, although that endorsement has been formally challenged by three members and a ruling will be made on August 22.

If the Malaysian motion is passed by the UCI Congress in September, the previous June deadline for the nomination of candidates would be retroactively extended to August 30. It has also been revealed that McQuaid has the support of both the Thai Cycling Association and the Fédération Royale Marocaine de Cyclisme.

“The Constitution is quite clear that candidates should be nominated by their own federation. Pat is shown with the designation (IRL) next to his name but, as is well known, Cycling Ireland withdrew his nomination,” Cookson said. "Now we are also informed by the Director General that Pat has membership of three national federations and four if you include Ireland. How can this be?

"There is certainly no provision in the Constitution, as it now stands, for nomination by more than one federation. This is even more astonishing as I, as a properly nominated candidate, have not been given the opportunity to seek nomination by federations other than my own.”

The original deadline for nominations for the election was June 30, with Cookson and McQuaid the only candidates, and the Briton is critical of the apparent shifting of the goalposts in the middle of the campaign. “What sort of organisation attempts to rewrite the rules once an election has actually begun - it smacks of attempted dictatorship,” he said.

"It seems to me that, at best, all of this is bringing the validity and impartiality of the terms and conditions of the electoral process into serious question. At worst, this is beginning to look like a concerted attempt to manipulate the election in an undemocratic and unconstitutional way.

"I know that other members of the Management Committee share my concerns and this will be expressed directly to the UCI Director General. The fight for a democratic and transparent process is now on and the choice for the voters has never been clearer."

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