Pat McQuaid might be a familiar name to you. The Irishman is President of cycling’s governing body the UCI and by definition one of the most powerful men in the sport. But he’s not the only McQuaid in the sport.
I’d planned on having a look at the family’s influence on our sport but a quick glance just wasn’t enough. So this is part of a series of items where I take a look at the McQuaids and their role within the sport.
Back in the 1960s Jim McQuaid was a prolific winner and off the bike he and his wife Madge had 10 children, including Pat. The Irish national team has seen a McQuaid on the squad time after time. Paul McQuaid for example represented Ireland in the Worlds. Impressive DNA.
Another son of Jim and Madge is Darach McQuaid. He’s the younger brother of Pat McQuaid and of course, a former racer. Today he runs a business amusingly called Shadetree Sports which acts as a marketing agency to help potential sponsors into the sport. Intriguingly the business was originally started along with Greg LeMond and linked to the disastrous Mercury-Viatel cycling team.
More recently Shadetree was behind the Tour of Ireland for example and his company website is trying to entice a corporate sponsor to back a pro cycling team. All good stuff, no?
Only some alarm bells ought to be ringing now. The concern has to be that the team can benefit from brotherly insider advice from Pat McQuaid. Similarly, in the race for a limited number of ProTour licences, could Darach’s project get preferential treatment by the UCI’s Road Commission because big brother’s got his back?
Or what if Shadetree decides to get a race off the ground, could the event get preferential treatment, for example a steer for certain riders and teams to take part, or even a higher UCI rating than the race merits? What about a convenient slot on the calendar? In short, do other race organisers have equal access or does Darach bring something special here because of his family tree?
All these questions hypothetical. But a well-run international governing body shouldn’t allow them to exist. More than ever sponsors thinking about investing in the sport need to rely on an unimpeachable governing body, not one that could be seen as sloppy with standards and ethics.
Worse, separate people have contacted me, including a well-regarded journalist, to suggest Shadetree Sports’s direct links into the heart of the UCI may indeed be exploited. If so, this isn’t healthy to put it mildly.