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 insidethegames.biz 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.
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.
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.