Exclusive: New doubts over transparency of UCI election after correspondence shows staff intervened in drafting rule change
Friday, 16 August 2013
August 16 - A proposed change to the constitution of the International Cycling Union (UCI), which could allow Pat McQuaid to stand for a third term as President even though his own federation are refusing to back him, was partly instigated by professional staff at the world governing body, insidethegames can exclusively reveal.
The Asian Cycling Confederation (ACC) and Malaysian National Cycling Federation have both tabled motions to change Article 51 of the UCI Constitution which is due to be voted on at the organisation's Congress in Florence on September 27.
If successful, it would be backdated to enable any two federations to nominate a candidate for the Presidential election, even if they are not from that country.
The proposal is significant because McQuaid is currently struggling to get a nomination to stand against Brian Cookson, President of British Cycling.
Cycling Ireland revoked their original nomination of him in May and backing from the Swiss Cycling Federation - where he lives - is under threat because of legal action.
Morocco and Thailand have nominated McQuaid but there is a dispute as to whether that is allowed under the current UCI Constitution, a loophole that would be closed if the ACC and Malaysian proposal is accepted.
It has now emerged that the new proposal was drafted with the help of Christophe Hubschmid, general director of the UCI, and Amina Lanaya, its head of legal services.
"I note from section 4 of the rationale for the proposal that it is the Malaysian National Cycling Federation's intention that the proposed amendment, if accepted, applies to the elections that will take place at the 2013 Congress," they write in identical letters they jointly signed sent separately on June 27 to Hee Wook Cho, President of the ACC and Datuk Haji Abu Samah Wahab, head of the Malaysian federation.
"Therefore, I would ask you to consider adding a transitional clause to your amendment, so as to enable National Federations to nominate candidates under the proposed amendment in case it should be accepted by the 2013 Congress to apply to the elections that will take place at that Congress."
Hubschmid and Lanaya then suggest how the amended clause should be framed.
"This transitional clause may be as follows: For the presidential elections at the 2013 congress nominations for candidates nominated by 2 federations other than the federation of the candidate may be deposited, under penalty of inadmissibility, until Friday 30 August 2013 at 12.00 CEST (UTC +2). The national federations will be informed of any such nominations on Monday 2 September 2013."
The next day both the ACC and Malaysian federations wrote to Hubschmid and Philippe Verbiest, a legal advisor at the UCI, suggesting the amended rule change using the exact wording that he had proposed.
A spokesman for the UCI claimed that they had only intervened to ensure that there was no ambiguity over the proposed rule change.
"The correspondence between the UCI and the Asian Cycling Confederation and the Malaysian National Cycling Federation discussing the amendment of Article 51 of the UCI Constitution was sent to all National Federations with the 2013 Congress materials on 28 July 2013," a spokesman told insidethegames.
"The proposal and accompanying rationale which was initially put forward by the Malaysian Federation - as you will have seen - sought to ensure that the proposal came into immediate force and that it was applied to the 2013 elections.
"In practice this would have allowed new candidates to be proposed for the Presidential election immediately after the possible passing of the Malaysian amendment - potentially minutes before the election for the new President.
"Given this scenario, the UCI proposed a transitional clause to the Federation and Confederation, which they accepted and subsequently proposed, with a deadline of 30 August 2013 for any additional nominations - subject of course to the amendment being accepted by Congress.
"UCI felt this was a more appropriate and transparent deadline.
"No candidates have been proposed to date on the basis of this possible amendment to the constitution."
Nevertheless, the involvement of key professional staff at the UCI in helping draft such a controversial rule change without the knowledge of the ruling Management Committee will again rise fears about the transparency of the election.
Igor Makarov, the oligarch who is head of the Russian Cycling Federation and member of the UCI Management Committee, has already threatened legal action over the proposed change to the Constitution, claiming it is an attempt to "circumvent the democratic principles and to favour one or several individuals to the detriment of the whole cycling community."
British Cycling's lawyers have also issued a warning to the UCI, suggesting an intention to legally challenge McQuaid's nomination.
They claim the nominations from Morocco and Thailand were received by the UCI after the closing date.
"That is an outrageous suggestion," said McQuaid.
"Brian must immediately make a statement on whether he believes that to be true and if he believes otherwise he has duty to ensure that this allegation is publicly withdrawn.
"As the President of British Cycling, Brian Cookson must explain his decision to allow his federation - that is funding his campaign - to behave in this way and to use its considerable financial clout to employ lawyers to challenge issues in the election.
"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.
"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."
Cookson accused McQuaid of "yet another attempt...to denigrate the current Presidential election process".
He added: "I want nothing more than an open and properly conducted democratic election and vote for the UCI Presidency.
"To suggest otherwise is nonsense.
"It is also true that I, and many in our sport, have legitimate and growing concerns about the retrospective rule bending and attempted manipulation that is taking place at present.
"In my view it is therefore absolutely correct that British Cycling and others have raised concerns regarding proposed rule changes which have a direct impact on the election process now under way.
"These concerns need to be addressed.
"Far from ducking these issues, for the good of cycling and the reputation of the UCI, it is critical that openness and transparency guide our procedures and not desperate manoeuvres and outbursts by Mr McQuaid."
August 2013: UCI threatened with legal action by Russian oligarch over proposed change to Constitution
July 2013: I have not broken any rules claims defiant McQuaid as criticism grows
July 2013: Proposal to change rules to help McQuaid UCI election campaign condemned as "dishonest"