USA Cycling CEO Johnson says CAS review of Article 51.1 is vital for UCI presidential election
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Monday, September 02, 2013

USA Cycling CEO Johnson says CAS review of Article 51.1 is vital for UCI presidential election

by Shane Stokes at 5:52 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
 
“I don’t think we should be in a position where as an organisation we are not sure how we hold an election, or how candidates are nominated”

Steve JohnsonFollowing on from the issuing of letters from five federations to UCI president Pat McQuaid calling on him to agree to let the Court of Arbitration for Sport make an important ruling in relation to the upcoming presidential election, the CEO of one of those federations has explained the course of action.

USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson spoke to VeloNation Monday, explaining why the body joined with the Russian, Canadian, Algerian and Finnish federations in asking McQuaid to agree to the request.

It concerns Article 51.1 of the UCI’s regulations, which states that ‘the candidates for the presidency shall be nominated by the federation of the candidate.’

McQuaid has already lost the nominations of Cycling Ireland and Swiss Cycling, and is now claiming that he can draw on the backing of the Moroccan and Thai federations. He dismisses assertions that Article 51.1 refers to a candidate’s ‘home’ federation, claiming that it refers to any federation a candidate is a member of.

He said at the end of July that he is a member of ‘six or seven’ international federations.

Johnson said that the ambiguity of the situation was one which needed to be addressed, and that this was the reason why USA Cycling and four others had joined together on the matter.

“I think it is pretty clear from reports in the media that there are some concerns that have been raised about the nature of some of these ad hoc…reinterpretations, if you will, of some traditional UCI constitutional policies,” he said. “Such as ‘the federation of the candidate,’ versus ‘a federation of the candidate.’

“Frankly, I think there is enough confusion and lack of clarity that it just became obvious that ideally we should resolve this before the election rather than after.”

Johnson said that CAS can move quickly on expedited cases, and that he believed a final resolution would be possible before September 27th, the date of the election. In contrast, he said that going to the standard Swiss courts would likely take far longer, making it impractical with the election in just over three weeks’ time.

He said that thus far, USA Cycling has not had any response from the UCI to the letters.

Johson has said that the sport is under close scrutiny and that it is necessary to change things in order to gain greater trust. “I think that the general consensus is that we have got to begin to work hard to restore credibility of the UCI. Frankly, that starts with ethical governance and good governance,” he said. “So wherever there are grey areas in the constitution, we have to take a hard look at those.

“I don’t think we should be in a position where as an organisation we are not sure how we hold an election, or how candidates are nominated.”

He agreed that as McQuaid has claimed repeatedly that there is no question about his interpretation of Article 51.1 plus his assertion that he has the nominations he needs, that it is in the Irishman’s interest to let CAS examine the situation.

Given the setbacks McQuaid has faced, Johnson believes that he stands to gain if CAS were to rule in his favour.

“He has two nominations overturned now on procedural concerns. So I would expect that he would like to get this resolved as much as we would,” he said.

In the interview below Johnson elaborates on these matters and also states that USA Cycling doesn’t want to express a preference for one candidate over another now. “It is about having a solid, defendable electoral process,” he said.

He also said that he had no information on the dossier said to have been assembled on McQuaid, and which allegedly contains information that would make his campaign far more difficult.

The full interview is as follows:


VeloNation: Firstly, five federations have written to Pat McQuaid requesting that he agree to let CAS rule if his interpretation of the UCI election regulations is fair. Can you explain the reason why this step was taken?

Steve Johnson: I think it is pretty clear from reports in the media that there are some concerns that have been raised about the nature of some of these ad hoc…reinterpretations, if you will, of some traditional UCI constitutional policies. Such as ‘the federation of the candidate,’ versus ‘a federation of the candidate.’

Frankly, I think there is enough confusion and lack of clarity that it just became obvious that ideally we should resolve this before the election rather than after.

VN: There are five federations who have written to the UCI calling for this. Do you believe that other federations will get on board in asking for the same thing?

SJ: That I don’t know. We have heard from some other federations that are expressing support privately. But I’m not sure how that will translate into public support. The reality is that it doesn’t need broad support – the point is that there is an issue, and we should seek clarity.

VN: Have you heard from CAS?

SJ: No, we wouldn’t hear a thing from CAS until it was agreed upon by the UCI to engage in this mutual binding arbitration. Then we would work together to develop basically the arbitration request and send that to CAS.

VN: CAS can fast track decisions. Presumably the idea is to have something done and finished before the 27th of September?

SJ: Exactly. That is why we have suggested we take it to CAS. They are very quick to handle these expedited issues in a timely manner, and we believe there is ample time to get this before CAS and get a resolution.

Obviously if it was taken to the Swiss courts, that wouldn’t be possible.

VN: Has there been any response thus far from the UCI itself?

SJ: No, I haven’t heard anything.

VN: Is your gut feeling that they will be receptive to it, or do you think there is a chance they will just continue to justify their own actions and plug onwards?

SJ: That is a great question. Out of the stakeholders survey that was published by the UCI, the foremost concern amongst the stakeholders was restoring credibility to the organisation.

Frankly, when it comes to really holding an open and fair election, that has got to start with following the rules. So when there is confusion over the rules and differences in interpretation of the rules and changes in the way that rules have been interpreted over time, I don’t think that is particularly transparent.

So hopefully they will agree it is time to put a stake in the sand and to get this resolved.

VN: Presumably if Pat McQuaid is as convinced as he has said he is that he is following the rules correctly, surely it is in his interests in doing this. It would remove the question mark over his position, in terms of going for a nomination, going for president again.

SJ: Absolutely. Look, he has two nominations overturned now on procedural concerns. So I would expect that he would like to get this resolved as much as we would.

VN: Generally, what do you see is the problem facing the sport as a result of all that has happened? Where is cycling now and where do you think it needs to go?

SJ: Again, I think that the general consensus is that we have got to begin to work hard to restore credibility of the UCI. Frankly, that starts with ethical governance and good governance. So wherever there are grey areas in the constitution, we have to take a hard look at those.

I don’t think we should be in a position where as an organisation we are not sure how we hold an election, or how candidates are nominated.

I think that we are definitely heading in the right direction and have a lot of potential to make I think substantial gains over the next few months, frankly. But it starts with a really truly open and fair democratic election.

Most of these extraordinary reinterpretations have been designed to favour one candidate. That doesn’t seem to be open or fair.

VN: It is thought that USA Cycling sees Brian Cookson as the preferred candidate. Can you explain why that is, what you believe that he brings that Pat McQuaid lacks?

SJ: This isn’t about one candidate or the other, as far as we are concerned. It is about having a solid, defendable electoral process.

So at this point, I really don’t want to comment on which candidate we think is the preferred candidate. We prefer to get this issue resolved and then move forward and let the election happen based on the respective merits of the candidates.

VN: Finally, there was talk about a dossier on Pat McQuaid. Do you know anything more about that?

SJ: That I do not know. That would be a good question for Mike Plant, who was the individual who presented the dossier to the management committee. I don’t know what the position of that is.

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