Cookson suggests controversial UCI Constitution change proposal smacks of attempted dictatorship
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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cookson suggests controversial UCI Constitution change proposal smacks of attempted dictatorship

by Shane Stokes at 7:09 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Briton claims that McQuaid is “prepared to embarrass an entire sport in an attempt to try and cling onto power”

Brian CooksonUCI presidential candidate Brian Cookson has reacted strongly to yesterday’s news that changes have been proposed to the UCI Constitution to favour the current president, Pat McQuaid, calling the suggested amendment as something that ‘smacks of attempted dictatorship.’

The Briton, who is the sole rival to two-term president McQuaid, was responding to the unexpected announcement that the Malaysian federation has proposed a change to Article 51 of the UCI’s constitution, which would allow presidential candidates to stand if they secure the nomination of any two national federations.

Under the current rules, candidates can only be nominated by their home federation. McQuaid had previously claimed membership of two federations, the Irish governing body of his country of birth, and also the Swiss body, as it is has been his place of residence for several years.

He was rejected by the Irish federation after its members were given the chance to vote on the matter. While he received the backing of the Swiss federation, that is now under legal appeal. It was confirmed yesterday that the matter will go before a full hearing in Zurich on August 22nd.

Facing uncertainty about whether he will have backing, McQuaid’s position appeared to be eased somewhat yesterday by the announcement of the unprecedented change to the constitution, although the motion will need to be passed by a majority of two thirds at the UCI Congress in September.

If that is done, the proposal would see the previous nomination deadline of June 29th scrapped and a new cut off point of August 30th being introduced.

In addition to that, the UCI has confirmed that McQuaid is now a member of the Moroccan and Thai federations, and has been nominated by both for the presidency.

Given that the rules are being changed while the election campaigns are fully underway, Cookson is scathing in his response.

“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,” he said today, reacting to the developments.

“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.”

Cookson has been a member of the UCI’s management committee for several years and stated in June that he had decided to run against McQuaid for the presidential role. He said that he believed the sport had lost credibility as a result of the Lance Armstrong/US Postal Service affair, because of other scandals and because of the bickering with bodies such as WADA and USADA.

The British Cycling president has said that he believes cycling needs a change at the top as well as clear reforms.

He has written to the UCI’s director general Christophe Hubschmid protesting at the Malaysian proposal, and at the fact that this essentially would change the rules to favour his presidential rival.

“It is surely completely out of order to allow a proposal to change an electoral procedure, once that procedure is underway. These proposals should never have been permitted onto the agenda, let alone given the validity of acceptance for the current election, especially considering that the UCI Management Committee have not even had the opportunity to discuss the matter,” he stated.

He pointed out that the current rules state that a candidate should be nominated by their home federation only and that McQuaid is showin with the designation IRL (Ireland) next to his name. However despite having his nomination withdrawn by Cycling Ireland, McQuaid is now claiming the backing of three federations.

“There is certainly no provision in the Constitution, as it now stands, for nomination by more than one federation,” he pointed out.

“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.

“I have asked the Director General how and why has Pat been given this opportunity? What was the process by which these nominations were permitted onto the electoral documents? Why was I not advised of this possibility and allowed to seek further nominations from federations around the world?”

Cookson noted that the rule change, if passed, would allow other candidates to now come forward, long after the cut-off date of June 29th.

“What sort of organisation attempts to rewrite the rules once an election has actually begun?” he asked. “It smacks of attempted dictatorship.

“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.”

Speaking of the moment as a fight for a democratic and transparent process, he ended his statement by saying that other members of the UCI Mangement Committee had similar concerns that that they intended to also express those concerns to the UCI Director General.

Plant also unimpressed:

Meanwhile fellow Management Committee member Mike Plant has also written to Hubschmid in protest at the developments. He views the actions of the three federations concerned as being a disruption to the democracy of the process plus the established rules.

“The timing of this significant change to the Presidential nomination process, less than 60 days from a very contested, globally visible and important election is unconscionable, unethical, dishonest, unprofessional, manipulative and destructive. I can think of more to say but I believe these adjectives get my point across,” he wrote.

“Never in the history of the UCI has there been this much interest and public discussion about the upcoming election and the future impact of the result. Now we are going to change the rules at the 11th hour before this historic election? Does anyone really think the vast majority of our stakeholders, constituencies, fans, media, etc. are going to accept this as a small administrative governance change? Considering the amount of attention the current President’s nomination challenges have received over the past few months, I don’t think so.”

Plant pointed out that over 7,000 respondents to the UCI’s stakeholder study had said that it was essential to restore the credibility in the UCI plus its leadership. He said that the latest developments would instead serve to further undermine the governing body.

“For the life of me, I cannot see how making this significant change to the nomination process, on the morning of the election will do anything less than further destroy the current reputation and credibility of how this organisation is currently being governed and managed,” he said.

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