McQuaid’s Swiss Role Reversal

After his Irish support collapsed, Pat McQuaid had announced that Swiss Cycling was nominating him to stand as President as the UCI. The Swiss federation has now withdrawn its support.

In addition the UCI has sought legal advice regarding its recent actions relating to the presidential nominations. Whilst the press release to accompany this sounded confident, the opinion isn’t as firm and McQuaid’s additional Thai and Moroccan nominations are far from secure.

But the more we look at points of law, the more we see a dysfunctional governing body stuck in procedural quicksand. The contest to become UCI President is slipping into the hands of the lawyers.

In some ways the Swiss retreat makes sense. With an upcoming arbitration hearing this week there was no point going to court and being exposed to costly liabilities given McQuaid says he has support from Thailand and Morocco. As Gerard Vroomen says, there could be some procedural and ethical questions to answer so why test the validity of a superfluous nomination given the risk of costs if the case was lost?


Yesterday the UCI cited legal advice from the Swiss offices of law firm Baker and McKenzie regarding McQuaid’s nomination by the Thai and Moroccan federations in a press release. Website has a copy of the report. There are two stand-out points:

First there are still big questions over the Malaysian proposal to allow multiple nominations including a retroactive aspect. It’s all about how items can be added to the agenda of the upcoming Congress because this is the preserve of the Management Committee under the UCI Constitution. The legal advice makes it clear that the proposal was not agreed by Management Committee as an agenda item, just that the Malaysians sent the proposal in and days later “that the agenda issue had not been discussed at all during the June meeting” of the Management Committee in Bergen, Norway. Instead Baker and McKenzie opine that the agenda was “silently ratified” because previous Management Committee meetings have not discussed Congress agendas before. But presumably this was because past agendas have only included formal items like the approval of the UCI accounts and other perennial content? What chance Management Committee members like Brian Cookson, Igor Makarov and Mike Plant would rejected the Malaysian item if it was put to them? I’m no Swiss lawyer but just because UCI officials have broken their own constitutional rules in the past is not a great reason to do it again. Especially if this case involves a controversial change to the constitution of the UCI regarding the election of a President in the very year of their election.

Second the nominations from Thailand and Moroccan appear to be by email and the rules and Swiss law prefers the original letters of nomination to arrive by 29 June, something which seems not to have happened. This is debatable and seems partly why the Malaysian proposal incorporates a retrospective aspect which allows nominations to stay open until the end of August. Indeed it’s what’s not said here that’s interesting as they don’t opine on whether Article 51 stating “the candidates for the presidency shall be nominated by the federation of the candidate” means a definitive single federation or can be more loosely interpreted as any federation of which the candidate is a member.

Is Pat McQuaid Out?
Yes because he no longer has a valid nomination. Maybe because McQuaid claimed the Swiss federation was his federation and Article 51 refers to a definitive “the federation” of the nominee although he has extra nominations from Thailand and Morocco. No, as he can be voted back into the process if the UCI Congress includes the Malaysian proposal on the agenda and at least two thirds of the 42 delegates back the constitutional change.

As you can see, there’s still a cloud over this. But McQuaid is a determined man and it’s hard to imagine him retreating here.

What now?
As suggested last Friday the Swiss nomination has been in doubt and Pat McQuaid has been conveying a message that even if he’s lost out in the formal nomination process then the doors should open for him at the Congress so he can ask the 42 voting delegates to make up their mind.

It’s a call for democracy because it’s an appeal for a contest but it is also a covert admission of defeat. The leader of a sports governing body cannot be seen to bend the rules to their own advantage because they are supposed to be the guarantor of the UCI, tasked with upholding its constitution and rules.

Flawed Contest
McQuaid is lamenting the ways Brian Cookson is trying to eject him from the contest before the vote. True but what should Cookson do, help out with his rival’s paperwork? Think of it as a driving test where candidates must present valid paperwork and pass a theory test before being road-tested. Here McQuaid’s been struggling to comply with his own rules, despite having the services of the UCI executive and legal department at his disposal. For all we know he could be very competent on the road but part of the job is about paperwork and rules and he’s flunked this.

It’s logical for the Swiss to withdraw their nomination, why assume the risk of being liable for damages? In a way McQuaid has brought this upon himself because his insistence on valid nominations from Morocco and Thailand was a signal to the Swiss board that they need not bother with support.

The legal advice given to the UCI is an opinion and not a ruling, indeed it’s unclear how solid the advice is. It even uses words and phrases like “controversial” and “silent ratification” and VeloNation reports that it “understands that a number of federations are joining in a consortium to launch a legal action against McQuaid” which means the opinion could be tested in the Swiss courts bring the spectre of a contest to be decided by a judge in months or even years to come.

The bid to become President of the UCI is turning into a saga and once again we’re left pouring over paperwork rather than thinking about plans for the future of the sport. A World Tour race in the USA? Making pro cycling more sponsor-friendly? A women’s version of the Tour de France with ASO onboard? Relaxing UCI rules on frame approval to help riders in emerging nations? Better TV deals for fans worldwide? Fixing management committee conflicts of interest? Adopting power profiling as an additional anti-doping tool? All this and more but more we’re stuck on articles of the constitution and the lawyers are involved.

76 thoughts on “McQuaid’s Swiss Role Reversal”

    • Can anyone recall another head of a world sporting body being so universally hated and publicly derided, indeed mocked? When administrators are doing their job well you never hear their name mentioned as people are more occupied with what is happening on the pitch/track/road/field/etc.
      Says a lot about Patty Cakes. Unrepresentative swill.

      • FIFA? The world soccer organisation that forbids the use of camera’s and a fourth referee? No, they are failing as well but not as hard as UCI.

  1. Whatever happens Pat McQuaid’s nomination has to be legaly sound. It would not be right if he won the election bending or breaking the rules. I think the ideal scenario would be for McQuaid’s nomination being rejected because it is so obviously crooked but then Brian Cookson finding a way to allow a vote so there is still a democratic rather than legal winner. Best case is McQuaid demonstrates all the things that are wrong about him, the legal process stops him and finaly the memebers vote to get rid of him.

  2. A drowning man clutching at driftwood would appear to sum up PMcQs present situation.

    Anybody with one ounce of sense would stand down. Why is the man so determined to continue to preside over a sport to which he has only bought shame ?

    I look forward to a fresh start, and hope Cookson can start the difficult process of cleaning up the dysfunctional management of the UCI. Best wish him luck.

    • Seems like PMcQ really do consider himself the best candidate, and thus he keeps fighting for his perceived “cycling’s interest”. A pity he is all but the only one who doesn’t realize that his fight is in his own self interest.

      I also look forward to an new start, but I’ll not hold my breath in anticipation for a FRESH start. It’ll likely be a lot of “business as usual” with all the same old guys (ex PMcQ).
      At least we can hope for a UCI that’s more open for changes and less self-preserving.

      • Considers himself the best candidate? .. or just someone who fears that the skeletons will come tumbling out of the closet once he isn’t there to lean on the closet door, and hopes that another four years divert attention to other matters?

        • I think he thought he was the ONLY candidate, and that the Irish Federation would nominate him without question. When there was doubt regarding his nomination, he hastily had to come up with a plan B & a reserve plan C. Unfortunately for him neither are sure of success, & even then he still has to win the final vote.

          ” . . . As far as I’m concerned it’s complete bullshit,” McQuaid said regarding the Swiss Federation withdrawing his nomination. Ooops!

          • To be fair to McQuaid the Swiss case was between the federation and three members. He’s a third party and a witness so he would not have been the first to be told. However just because he has not been told of something does not make it “bullshit”

    • +1. The thing is he won’t go quietly, and even when he has gone, he won’t go away as there’s going to be lots of dirty washing to be done for all sides.

  3. The one thing that makes me wonder most is the dossier full of dirt Makarov appearantly has on PMQ. According to Cyclingnews, it’s been on the table of a Management Committee meeting, but the extent to which the details inside the dossier are known (even to the Committee) is very unclear.

    This dossier could potentially nuke PMQ’s last chances at getting a valid nomination if made public at the right time.

    I am predicting that this year’s World Championships will see the attention not be about cycling, but about the PMQ files.

  4. From the perspective of someone who writes this sort of thing for a living, it looks pretty evident to me that the opinion from Bakers is written with a certain conclusion in mind. For example, in 1.2 before concluding that the transitional provision would *not* result in a manifest abuse it warns that the threshold for a manifest abuse is very high and then spends a page discussing the issues. But in 2.2, where their only legal basis for saying that the Management Committee can be assumed to have consented to the agenda is that to do otherwise *would* be a manifest abuse, they dispose of that issue in one sentence.

      • I’ll use this thread as “Pedants’ Corner”. 🙂

        “pouring over paperwork” should read “poring over paperwork” (although depending on what’s in your glass, perhaps “pouring” would be more appropriate).

  5. What have the Malay and Thai federations been ‘promised’ do you suppose… full world tour HC status for Langkawi ?

    I bet McQuaid is pissed off that the Chinese aren’t stepping up to the plate after all the sucking up he’s done.

  6. It is disappointing that McQ is hated for what seems to be not much more than rumor an innuendo while it is a fact that he has been the president during the most sweeping positive changes to the sport and Cookson is touted as the second coming when all of his known connections have ethics issues. What do we really know about Cookson? Not much. He seems to me like the slippery guy who has kept to the shadows, all the while having designs on his boss’ job.

    As a question, wasn’t he a UCI Commissaire when they tried to undermine Obree’s Hour attempt by changing the rules on position the night before?

    • Do you realise how many UCI International Commissaires there are? Answer: over 600.

      Do you realise that most UCI International Commissaires specialise in just one, or two, of the seven discipline areas? Given that Cookson specialised in road cycling, I’m not sure that the fact that he was a UCI International Commissaire is any reason to even begin to suspect that he was in any way involved in decisions about a rider in a discipline he wasn’t even involved with as a Commissaire.

      • It was a question, not a statement. I believe Cookson was a track Commissaire before he was involved with roadracing. I think that that was on his resume and now it’s not.

        I could be wrong, but it’s worth a look isn’t it?

        • Came across as more of a rhetorical question .. but the point still stands that such changes in rules have nothing at all to do with UCI International Commissaires, who are simply there to enforce the rules made by others (anyway, the whole Graeme Obree thing occurred at the 1994 Championships in Palermo .. and Cookson has never served as a Commisaire at any World Championships, road or track, that have been held in Italy).

          Perhaps you are confusing his time as a Commissaire with his two years as President of UCI Cyclo-Cross Commission, before taking over as President of UCI Road Commission (in 2011).

    • There is also the fact that UCI Commissaires there appointed by the national federations and are there to police and enforce the rules .. not to make the rules.

      • Not to mention the fact that at the 1994 Worlds, Verbruggen was on site in Palermo making ALL of the UCI decisions and forcing their implementation to try to stop Obree competing – culminating in the lunacy of going onto the track himself to flag down Obree.

        Holy christ, LM, you’re going to have to do better than that

          • Agreed – an utterly low point amongst a number of low points in the history of the UCI

            I see that McQuaid is still denying that he has anything to do with Verbruggen any more

            *rolls eyes*

        • I have asked a few questions and the most important ones are:

          What has Pat done, really, that is so reprehensible when the facts appear to be that, under his direction, the sport is cleaner than Ever before? Of course, he is a present day PR nightmare, and that doesn’t help, but what has he done that’s so illegal?

          And; what do we really know of Cookson? He is credited with turning British cycling around, but that isn’t actually true. He is touted as a breath of fresh clean air, but his known supporters and backers are crybabies at best (Vaughters and race radios) and full blown criminals at the worst (search “Makarov” on this site alone and tell me that your not scratching your head about why the Cookson, who’s presenting himself as transparent and above reproach, is hanging around with the guy. Then throw in the dysfuntional; Plant and the empty “dossier”, LeMond, Fuller the grandstander, etc.

          Pat’s just a prick. Who better to send in to deal with a bunch of cheats and ex cheats and criminals than a prick?

          • LM – you clearly have some knowledge about cycling. If you are really asking what makes McQ so reprehensible, then you either don’t want to look or don’t want to hear.
            Your points about Cookson may be valid, but unfortunately they are undermined by your wilful ignorance on McQ.

          • It is not willful ignorance, but if you stand back and look at the whole picture, under Pat, the sport is cleaner than it has ever been by a Large margin. He is a madman, but he has done what no one else has even dared. All the while trying to preserve the public appearance of the sport. And all Cookson has to say is that the doping program is too close to McQ’s office, just like Makarov coached him to say.

            It’s historically a dirty, filthy sport. And, it’s been said before, “no wonder, because who in their right mind would ride for 20+ days, hundreds of miles a day and not take a little help to ease the pain.” After that, if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying hard enough.

          • LM ..please…’under his direction, the sport is cleaner than Ever before?’
            This is the guy who fought to bury the USADA enquiry, who called the whistleblowers ‘scum’ etc etc. (and a myriad of other examples covered here and elsewhere ad finitum).
            Sure it’s cleaner than it was, but it takes a major leap of faith to give PMcQ any credit for doing anything other than act as a drag anchor on the efforts to clean the sport up.

      • Sorry, but that is not always the case. In general, the jury president is nominated by the UCI and the remainder of the jury by the NF.
        In some cases, the WC for instance, the full jury is nominated by the UCI.

        • You are appointed a UCI International Commissaire by a national federation. What you are describing is how you are chosen to officiate at particular events.

          • Well, no.
            You are appointed by your NF (correct) to participate in the course and training as a UCI IC. Upon passing your examination you are then bestowed the title as UCI IC. By the UCI. You could even be an IC without ever having anything to do with your NF as the regulations leave room for being licensed by the UCI. But that, I suppose, is a hypothetical situation.
            The NF does not carry the mandate to bestowe the title as UCI IC. But they can take it away from you, nevertheless.

            And you said: “There is also the fact that UCI Commissaires there appointed by the national federations and are there to police and enforce the rules…” which clearly deals with commissaires in action = “…chosen to officiate…” and these are nominated by both the UCI (the jury president) and the NF.

          • I can only conclude that you are deliberately misinterpreting – or at best extrapolating beyond what I have written – because nothing there contradicts what I said.

        • That was meant to be a reply to the claim that the NF is responsible for nominating UCI commissaires. Don’t know why it ended up all the way down here…

          • OT
            @Mark H
            For some reason I cannot reply to your message directly.

            I agree, I do not contradict. Also I d not deliberately misinterpret. But I was offended – as a UCI IC – that you generalised to UCI IC appointments being solely by the NFs. Because they are not.
            I also found that the event related to your your statement about ICs being nominated by the NFs was the track WC. Which is exactly one of the events where the UCI appoints/nominates the full jury.
            I did not mean to offend you – or anyone else in this knowledgable forum – and I am sorry if I did.
            Friends, huh?

    • Even if Cookson is more of the same he can’t be any worse. Hopefully he will be a breath of fresh air, but if not then a change at the top may still spark small currents underneath. Change, any change, is desperately needed.

  7. Interesting summary, thanks. This is turning into a regular stage race, with many disciplines involved. I’m fed up with McQuaid’s policies and with his style, though, and hope for something better to come out of this whole unedifying episode. Politics of the grubby sort.

    As an aside, it’s more a case of ‘poring’ over the paperwork, though there’s some things that could usefully be poured over it as well.

  8. Thank you Inrng, for keeping reason in face of adversity.

    If Fuller’s analysis (CN: is right that, following Swiss Cycling’s decision the tide will start to shift, then, as unlikely as it may sound now, McQuaid could end up withdrawing his nomination before the vote.

    But for this to happen, the opposing federations (rumoured to be from Europe, Oceania and North America) would likely have to keep up the pressure and perhaps initiate some kind of legal action before the Congress meeting. Key then would be the cost of such action, as most federations don’t have much to play with. So the more federations join the initiative, the higher the chances of legal action.

  9. LM. Sorry, but your contribution lacks any real understanding of the reality. Check the financial and organizational situation of the BCF, as it then was, before Cookson took over.
    The PMcQ line of “known associates” is rather poor – remember this comes from a man with a long time association with Hein Verbruggen. I would suggest you need to read around the subject in more detail before comment.
    I do however, agree with the sentiments expressed in the first sentence of your final paragraph !

      • He didn’t say that Cookson invented the lottery, did he? But that doesn’t change the fact that but for Cookson, and his reforms, there quite simply wouldn’t be any Lottery funding.

        Cookson gave the formerly near-bankrupt British Cycling the stability, credibility and structure that allowed in to be reborn and gave the people with the money the confidence to finance it .. which is exactly what the sport needs right now. Where it actually matters, the people who believe that McQuaid commands the necessary respect to achieve that, for the global sport, are rarer than the proverbial hen’s tooth .. and without that confidence, the sport is moribund and about as vital as Nokia.

        • Mark, I’m sure you’re a good guy, but what you just wrote is pure BS. It’s the intergalactic web, and anyone can say anything, but it makes thing infinitely more interesting when everyone tries to be informed. Everyone makes mistakes and mixes up the facts; I’m a shining example of that. But, it’s worth it to do some homework. at the least, Wiki.

          Since the second half of the 19th century, with bicycle racing deemed dangerous and illegal, British racing evolved and developed into what is now a historical legacy of time trialing (In fact, until the 30’s, World Champs were a time trial), track and cyclocross racing. So, by the end of 20th century there was a long established infrastructure.

          The National Lottery support for British Cycling had absolutely nothing to do with Cookson’s presidency; the Lottery has supported 30 different Olympic sports since 1997, cycling just happens to be one of them.

          Cookson is a volunteer, who until he recently held a small borough, mid-level, bureaucratic day job. There is a rumor that at least one of his backers is supporting him financially.

          The infrastructure and the athletes already existed; there were some issues with money that Cookson did Not solve, the new funding made it so athletes could train full time and the rest is history. The same thing happened in sailing, fencing, etc.

          And, I’m sorry; I’m well aware that this blog post was not about the difference between McQ and Cookson. I just get a little tired of the witch hunting mob.

          • Sorry, LM, but if you want to see intergalactic b*llsh*t, then look no further than that last post of yours.

            The fact that Cookson doesn’t take a salary is wholly irrelevant to the job he has done at British Cycling (in fact, it just makes it all the more remarkable) .. and it is a matter of public record that British Cycling was deeply troubled and close to bankruptcy when he took over.

            As for the rest: all you are doing, without a single shred of evidence, is peddling snide rumour and innuendo – now about who his alleged financial backers are and before that some demonstrable banality about his role, as a UCI International Commissaire, in undermining Graeme Obree … which makes your comments about “witch hunting” all the more laughable.

          • Sorry, that last post should have been signed.

            As for Cookson’s supposed “small borough, mid-level, bureaucratic day job” (i.e. an Executive Director for Regeneration), I would venture to suggest that gives him far more relevant strategic, organisational and managerial experience than Pat McQuaid ever had when he took on the top job at the UCI.

          • You may also want to take a look at Cookson’s responsibilities in that unpaid British Cycling role, where he controls a budget that is larger than that of either USA Cycling, Fédération Française de Cyclisme or the whole of the UCI .. so whether or not you are impressed with his executive rank at Pendle Borough Council really is of witheringly little importance; because however you look at it he has far more senior management experience than Pat McQuaid has even now, after eight years in the top job at the UCI.

  10. “After that, if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying hard enough.” Really? I think this attitude is exactly how pro cycling got into the sordid situation regarding doping. And UCI’s “Mr. Mars” and “Mad Hatter” were right there, doing their best to look-the-other-way.
    Taking over the UCI has boiled down to a choice of the lesser evil – in this case I think that is clearly the guy opposing “Mad Hatter”. I must admit I will miss the “open mouth, insert foot” craziness of most of Paddy’s tenure when/if he’s finally ousted.


    Not a panacea, but really, over 8 years of reign seems a bit ridiculous. We have U.S. senators orchestrating an entire adult career of progressive self serving influence peddling as an example of the pitfalls of officials in place in perpetuity. Aacck. (Is that a British word?)

  12. Cookson has been in a position with some similarities before. The British Cycling Federation had litigation flying from all side when Tony Doyle took over as President and uncovered plenty of wrongdoing from members of the board. It was even brought up in the British Parliament, some notes in this link from 1996.
    After this Cookson took over & had to clean things up, revamped the organisation & it became British Cycling. I think he’s probably the person to come in & sort the mess up, I’m expecting lots of dirty laundry, which might be why McQuaid is fighting so hard to stop somebody like Cookson come in & see any dubious documents (shredder in full flow right now). He knows what might be uncovered. Cookson may not have the ideas to revamp the UCI, but in my opinion, his strength is that he’s willing to seek out & employ those who do, as happened with British Cycling, which went from an organisation where riders representing Britain had to buy their own skinsuit or use an old one, to a professional sports organisation.

    • Inclined to agree. I see Cookson as someone who could maybe turn the ship and clean up the mess, to clear the ground for someone like Tracey Gaudry to increasingly take over and effect real long-term changes, without her constantly having to deal with the distractions of the past.

  13. “the candidates for the presidency shall be nominated by the federation of the candidate” means a definitive single federation or can be more loosely interpreted as any federation of which the candidate is a member.”

    As a recovering lawyer, take with a grain of salt …

    but I would say “… shall be nominated by THE federation…” means a single federation.

    • THE federation – my interpretation also. Oddly enough, Baker and McKenzie appear not to have been tasked with clarifying this with their “independent” opinion. McQuaid seemed keen to get a “home” (Swiss) nomination, to the point of becoming a last-minute member, which suggests even he has his doubts on this one.

  14. What strikes me as odd at the moment is the apparent lack of commentary on this from anyone in Malaysia, Morocco or Thailand. Apart from the Malaysian sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin who criticised the MNCF for being too political recently, there have been no press releases, conferences, articles from proponents or indeed dissenters in those countries that have made it as far as the mainstream cycling online media, twitter or anywhere else that I have seen. Perhaps I’m looking in the wrong places, but it makes me wonder if PM cherry-picked those federations precisely because of their low profiles internationally and lack of internal debate. Can anyone enlighten and/or correct me on this point?

  15. There are often times in life when however right you think you are or however much you want something, the correct thing to do is back down. As they say when only one person wants a relationship to continue, if you really love them, you’ll let them go. You then have to ask why PM is so insistent on wanting to run for the presidency? He must know that his continuation as the head of the UCI is untenable, even if (and this really is his best case scenario) it’s only an issue of perception from the outside world. There can only be three reasons to keep fighting. One, he believes BC is completely useless or corrupt or both. Two, he is so narcissistic he truly believes he is the only person capable of running the UCI or three, he needs to stay in place to protect himself and his mentor from any skeletons being released.

    British Cycling’s success relative to where it was before the tenure of BC would seem to disprove reason number one. As for reason two, he may well be a narrcissist but even they will finally stop swimming against the tide. I’d therefore be interested if anyone can think of a fourth reason because if not, you can only believe he’s got something to hide.

  16. LT. I come to this forum for the well informed and balanced views of our host and his contributors.
    You are welcome to advice, but please do try and read around the subject before posting. I said in my post “BEFORE” Cookson. Please do try and keep up.

  17. BC – Can’t you make your points without being so patronizing? You may not agree with LM’s comments, but there’s no need to sound so supercilious…

    • @Dafydd Anyone who includes in their case the accusation that a person’s “known supporters and backers are crybabies at best” should regard supercilious and patronising as better than they deserve.

  18. Dafydd. The point I was making was that the posts referred too contained no fact based substance, it is not a case of not agreeing – the comments regarding Cookson and British Cycling are simply plain wrong. If you or LM are offended by the manner in which I made the point, then accept my apologizes. We live in a world where unfounded accusations can be directed at a person, by anybody behind a keyboard or Ipad screen, without the slightest regard for the substantive facts.

  19. Dear all,

    I have a suggestion for you. Abandon road racing, buy a mountain bike and come with me or anyone else for that matter to one of the many excellent trail centres in the UK and beyond. Or get out there and explore the hills, lakes, deserts, mountains, valleys, plains and anything else that makes your country beautiful.

    It is fun, fast, varied and most mountain bikers don’t even know who Pat McQuaid is. The UCI is destroying a sport we all love dearly, the only option is to let it sort itself out on it’s own before it gets our attention again.

  20. Since ASO owns cycling’s biggest venus (TDF, etc.), their silence in this debacle strikes me as odd. Is ASO bound to UCI by some contractual agreement? I know this was an issue a few tours back. Or, are they just hoping the keep the mess of their hands?

    • Though they’re undeniably one of the most influential bodies in world cycling….they’re still ‘just’ race organisers, and need to steer clear of uttering views in public on such a topic as the fight for the governing body’s leadership. Really its nothing to do with them. Quite rightly, best of luck getting a comment on it from Prudhomme, never mind the actual Board.

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