With embattled International Cycling Union (UCI) president Pat McQuaid in an intense contest for his job against British challenger Brian Cookson, the cycling body’s election rules are set to be changed.
The UCI said late on Monday it is preparing an amendment to its statutes, which could safeguard McQuaid’s nomination for the September election.
Cookson denounced the tactic on Tuesday as “a clear sign of desperation” by his opponent, who must also give up his International Olympic Committee membership if the presidency is lost.
McQuaid is trying to secure a valid candidacy after his home Irish federation withdrew its support and a nomination from Switzerland, where he lives, is being legally challenged next month.
Malaysian officials now propose changing rules which would allow any two UCI members worldwide, not just home federations, to nominate a candidate — despite the original deadline passing in June.
“The Malaysian Federation and [Asian confederation] state that their aims are to reinforce the independence of future UCI presidents by ensuring they are able to carry out the role based on serving the global interests of cycling, independently from those of any single nominating national federation,” the UCI said in a statement.
The proposed rule change was met with opposition from USA Cycling.
“At this critical time for our sport, we must all stand together and demand strict adherence to the principles of integrity, fair play, transparency, ethical conduct and good governance,” USA Cycling president and CEO Steve Johnson said.
“A dramatic midstream change to the procedures governing the ongoing election is inconsistent with these principles and no more sensible than changing the rules of a bike race after the race has started,” he added.
McQuaid, who insisted in a statement on Tuesday that “no one has broken the rules” makes his bid for a third four-year term against a background of widespread attacks on the UCI and its credibility. Those intensified in the fallout from the Lance Armstrong doping affair and continued revelations of an endemic culture of doping while the UCI was led by McQuaid’s predecessor and mentor, Hein Verbruggen.
The UCI has pledged to create an independent panel to investigate claims it colluded in protecting Armstrong from scrutiny during his career and that US$125,000 donated by the now-disgraced rider was paid to cover up suspicious doping tests.
Cookson was nominated by British Cycling, which he has led for 17 years. He promises to restore cycling’s reputation and create an independent body running the sport’s anti-doping program.
“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 organization is prepared to embarrass an entire sport in an attempt to try and cling onto power,” he said in a statement.
The amendment can be voted on at the Sept. 27 election meeting in Florence, Italy, and retrospectively apply a deadline of this month for nominations.
In Florence, a 42-voter electoral college will then choose the president by secret ballot.
TOUR DE POLOGNE
AFP, RZESZOW, Poland
Norway’s former world road race champion Thor Hushovd won the third stage of the Tour de Pologne after the peloton covered 226km between Krakow and Rzeszow after two opening stages in Italy.
Australia’s Mark Renshaw and Steele von Hoff took second and third, while Poland’s Rafal Majka of Saxo-Tinkoff retained the leader’s yellow jersey and carried a four second lead into yesterday’s 231.5km ride from Tarnow to Katowice.
British rider and last year’s Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins continues to struggle this season and finished 49th overall, already 23 minutes, 43 seconds adrift of Majka.
Following a rest day on Monday after two days in the Dolomites, 35-year-old former Tour de France green jersey winner Hushovd showed he had lost none of the strength in his legs and indicated to the Swiss BMC team that the three-year contract he signed with them recently should yield positive results despite his age.