By Duncan Mackay

Pat McQuaidJuly 31 - Pat McQuaid has insisted that he has not broken any rules by seeking a nomination from three different countries to stand for a third term as President of the International Cycling Union (UCI) after Cycling Ireland declined to back him, even though criticism of his move continues to mount.

The 63-year-old Dubliner has received the backing of the Swiss, Moroccan and Thai Federations after Cycling Ireland decided not to give him their support and yesterday rival candidate Brian Cookson claimed that his actions "smacked of attempted dictatorship" and were a "sign of desperation".

But McQuaid, elected UCI President in 2005, hit back during an interview with Ireland's RTÉ Radio One.

"The UCI rules are quite clear: they permit anybody to be a member of any number of federations, and it also states that any Federation can nominate one of its members to be a candidate as the candidacy of the UCI," said McQuaid, who claimed that he belongs to at least six federations around the world.

"The word 'home' is not in the UCI regulations.

"So people who say that - and I have heard interviews that journalists say he should have been nominated by his home federation, Ireland, or then by home Federation Switzerland - are not correct.

"The rules state that any Federation can nominate one of its members for the Presidency of the UCI."

Pat McQuaid in Morocco May 2013 jpegPat McQuaid, during a visit to Morocco in May to attend the Challenge du Prince series, claims that he has close ties with the North African country 

Article 51 of the UCI's Constitution states "the candidate for the Presidency shall be nominated by the Federation of the candidate" and McQuaid insisted that meant he was perfectly entitled to seek nominations from countries other than Ireland, even though his links with Morocco and Thailand are tenuous.

"That is not even bending the rules," said McQuaid.

"The UCI Constitution states...the federation of which the candidate is a member.

"And I am a member of that federation.

"Morocco is a Federation I am closely associated with, I have close ties with.

"They've made me a member of their Federation and they've nominated me.

"But I don't have any 'the' Federation on my candidate, because the fact is, I'm the President of 175 Federations.

"I left Ireland eight years, so I have little or nothing to do with the Irish Federation."

Malaysia also proposed changes in the nomination process yesterday, meaning a Presidential candidate can be nominated by two any two Federations - which McQuaid claimed he did not solicit.

"I don't need the Malaysian proposal," he said.

"I've got the Swiss Federation, I've got the Moroccan Federation and I've got the Thai Federation.

"I've enough valid nominations to stand for the Presidency of the UCI."

Steve Johnson, President and chief executive of USA Cycling, however, has claimed that he is uncomfortable with what McQuaid is doing.

"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," he 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."

Jonathan VaugthersJonathan Vaugthers, ahead of the Association of Professional Cycling teams, has accused Pat McQuaid of bending the rules following details of a proposed change in the voting system

There was also criticism of the Malaysian proposal from Jonathan Vaughters, President of the Association of Professional Cycling Teams (AIGCP ).

"At a time in cycling when we are trying to stop rules being bent to win, why would we endorse leadership that bends the rules to win?" he tweeted.

McQuaid and Cookson, the President of British Cycling, are currently engaged in a close race for the UCI Presidency ahead of the election in Florence on September 27. 

"If we were to follow your interpretation of it, I would just step aside and let Brian Cookson walk straight into the Presidency of the UCI,"  McQuaid told RTÉ Radio One.

"I don't think my federations would thank me for that.

"I have a lot of federations around the world that have urged me - despite the various pressures that have been on me, including inducements to leave the position - that I shouldn't leave the position and they want me to stay.

"I refuse to step aside because I am standing on the work I have done in the past eight years and the globalisation of the sport is completely changed."

Chris Froome in time trial Tour de France July 2013Riders like Britain's Tour de France winner Chris Froome have been able to flourish under the new doping-free culture encouraged by UCI President Pat McQuaid, the Irishman claims

McQuaid claimed that under his leadership the sport is moving away from its doping culture and that he should take credit for the victory of British rider Chis Froome in the Tour de France.

"I'm the beginning of the new guard because I'm the one who has completely changed the culture of doping in our sport since I came in eight years ago," said McQuaid.

"Eight years ago, the sport was riddled [with drugs].

"We had [Lance] Armstrong, who had just retired, and I was aware there was a culture of doping and I stated I was going to attack it over those years.

"I've done many things to attack it over those years.

"And changing the culture isn't something you do overnight.

"I brought in the biological passport system, I brought in the corticosteroid rule, I brought in a no-needles policy, I brought in a rule where riders who were caught doping could not come back to the sport as part of an entourage and a whole raft of measures to combat doping in the sport.

"All of this is part of changing the culture and I'm the person who can stand up and be proud and watch Chris Froome say his yellow jersey will stand the test of time."

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