McQuaid’s calls for a fully democratic election contrast with actions of predecessor Verbruggen in 2005
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Thursday, September 12, 2013

McQuaid’s calls for a fully democratic election contrast with actions of predecessor Verbruggen in 2005

by Shane Stokes at 9:10 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Confidential letter sent to confederations acted to damage chances of McQuaid’s election rivals

Pat McQuaidPat McQuaid’s criticism that Brian Cookson is seeking a coronation and not an election has come under the spotlight with the emergence of a confidential letter sent prior to the Irishman’s election as UCI president in 2005, which sought to promote him as the sole viable candidate for the position.

In the letter, obtained by VeloNation, the then-president Hein Verbruggen wrote to the presidents of the Asian, Oceania, African and Pan-American cycling confederations plus the European Cycling Union, leaving them in little doubt that McQuaid was his preferred candidate and casting serious doubt upon the value of the other two who were in the running.

They were Spanish candidate Gregorio Moreno and the Malaysian Darsan Singh Gill.

“Pat McQuaid has been proposed by the UEC, accepted by the UCI Management Committee, and will – with your support – without any doubt be elected as the next UCI president,” wrote Verbruggen in the July 2005 letter, which can be seen here: [part 1]  [part 2].

“He is, however, not the only candidate. For various reasons two other persons have put forward their candidatures as it has been communicated in the congress files sent to the National Federations.

“Without going into details in this letter, I believe that these 2 other candidates are not the best choice for being President of the UCI, be it by their background, their personality or their motivation, and I am absolutely convinced that this is also the opinion of an overwhelming majority of people involved in the UCI.”

In the letter, Verbruggen explained that he was putting himself in as a last-minute candidate, saying that he wanted to ensure that either McQuaid or he would lead the UCI rather than Moreno or Singh Gill. He said that he didn’t intend to run against McQuaid, but rather would be a fall-back option if the Irishman was unable to stand.

He warned of “the risk that during the remaining 3 months till the election of September 23rd, the candidature of Pat McQuaid would be lost (as a result of accident, personal circumstances, etc.), we would be left with only two candidates that I find not qualified.”

Ultimately only McQuaid and Moreno went head to head, with Singh Gill and Verbruggen withdrawing before the votes were cast. McQuaid won easily.

Eight years on, the Irishman is battling to hold on to the reins, with British Cycling president Brian Cookson working hard in the run-up to the election. There is controversy about McQuaid’s nomination as he has been unable to secure backing from either Cycling Ireland or Swiss Cycling.

Instead, he has had to call on nominations from the Moroccan and Thai federations; these have been disputed due to the wording of Article 51.1 of the UCI constitution, which some believe states that a candidate must be nominated by his or her ‘home’ federation.

In a statement released on August 16th, McQuaid argued that democracy was best served by him being able to stand. He criticised a letter from British Cycling’s lawyers questioning whether he had indeed secured a valid nomination, and demanded that the federation call off any legal challenge and to allow the UCI Congress alone to decide who should be the next president.

“I do not fear an open election and I am not at all concerned by my ability to secure the support and votes that I require to be re-elected as UCI President,” he stated then. “While it would appear that Brian has lost confidence in his own ability I continue to challenge him to allow the UCI Congress and its voting delegates to decide,” said McQuaid.

The statement is in contrast to the sentiments expressed by Verbruggen when McQuaid was himself trying to become UCI president for the first time. Then, the former president appeared to seek to influence the views of the international confederations that would send delegates to Congress to cast their votes, implying that a vote for McQuaid’s rivals would be a vote for people that he believes “are not qualified.”

He also argued that one strong candidate was preferable to having several fighting hard for the election victory.

“An elected President with a large support is always better than someone who comes in office after winning with a small majority via a hard-fought election campaign,” he wrote.

Verbruggen’s letter highlights the conflicting situation then and now for McQuaid. The Irishman benefitted from the actions of the Dutchman then, but is now evoking the values of democracy in calling for challenges to his nomination to be dropped so that there is more than one candidate.

Last week he and the UCI rejected calls by five federations to allow the Court of Arbitration for Sport to determine whether or not his nominations by Morocco and Thailand complied with Article 51.1.

The decision was made by the executive board of the UCI. McQuaid is the president but the UCI stated he did not participate in the discussion nor vote on it.

The three other members, vice presidents Hee Wook Cho, Renato di Rocco and Artur Lopes decided that CAS should not rule on the matter, but rather instead it should be discussed at the UCI Congress by those present.

Cho is also the president of the Asian Cycling Confederation, which along with the Malaysian federation has proposed changes to Article 51.1.

Some have claimed these changes are designed to boost McQuaid’s chances of being re-elected, particularly due to a retrospective element which, if passed, would enable the modified regulation to apply to the current nomination and election process.


Verbruggen’s letter is as follows [see original here and here]



Confidential

To presidents of:

Asian Cycling Confederation
Oceania Cycling Confederation
African Cycling Confederation
Pan-America Cycling Confederation
European Cycling Union

By email and post

Aigle, July 29th 2005
Ref: President/HV/az




Dear Friends,

This confidential letter is meant to give you information about the coming up elections for the UCI President on September 23rd next.

As you know, and until a month ago, this seemed to be the case, it was intention to have one candidate for President. An elected President with a large support is always better than someone who comes in office after winning with a small majority via a hard-fought election campaign.

Pat McQuaid has been proposed by the UEC, accepted by the UCI Management Committee, and will – with your support – without any doubt be elected as the next UCI president.

He is, however, not the only candidate. For various reasons two other persons have put forward their candidatures as it has been communicated in the congress files sent to the National Federations.

Without going into details in this letter, I believe that these 2 other candidates are not the best choice for being President of the UCI, be it by their background, their personality or their motivation, and I am absolutely convinced that this is also the opinion of an overwhelming majority of people involved in the UCI.

So 24 hours before the closing of the term that candidates could be sent in, I was confronted with the following situation:

- Not one, but three candidates
- The risk that during the remaining 3 months till the election of September 23rd, the candidature of Pat McQuaid would be lost (as a result of accident, personal circumstances, etc.), we would be left with only two candidates that I find not qualified.

Under these circumstances, and after consultation with my own Federation, the KNWU, I have decided on the very last moment to put forward my own candidature also. The president of the KNWU, Mr. J. Aatsma, and the Vice-President Mr P. Zevenbergen, have both been involved and on Saturday, June 25th 2005, my candidature was officially and according to the statutory provisions, received by the UCI (see appendix).

I have, obviously, no intention at all to be a candidate against Pat McQuaid (he was, by the way, the only person I gave the information to). If things go the way I hope they will go, there will be a vote between 3 persons on September 23rd and I am very confident about who will win. If, however, and for whatever reason, Pat McQuaid is not available as a candidate on 23 September, I will run against the two other candidates, in the interest of the UCI as I humbly add.

This letter is – confidentially (!) – sent to the five Continental Confederation Presidents, since it is the delegates of your Confederation that have the voting rights. This letter is meant to call upon you as a witness during the Congress on September 23rd, to confirm that you have received this letter and that you were informed about my candidature. I do this because in the Congress file that was sent around, my name does not appear as a candidate. This is for obvious reasons because my candidature is simply a ‘just in case’ candidature and most definitely not to be taken as an intention to run against Pat McQuaid. The lawyers have assured me that the fact that my candidature is not mentioned in the Congress file does not mean that it is not valid. And in the case that here is a dispute about this, it is in the final analysis the Congress that will take a decision and in that your case your confirmation about the information you receive in this letter, will be crucial.

I am sorry that in the last months of my mandate, there is this turmoil, created by one previous and one active member of our Management Committee. I am, however, very confident that the quality and the strength of the UCI organisation is of such a high level that we will easily get over these incidents and that we can keep looking with confidence to the future.

Sincerely,

Hein Verbruggen
President

Annex: ment.
Copy: Mr. Pat McQuaid


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