Swiss cycling’s governing body withdrew its support for the re-election bid of Pat McQuaid, the president of the sport’s world ruling body, to avoid a possible 100,000 Swiss-franc ($109,000) legal challenge.
Swiss Cycling notified Union Cycliste Internationale, or UCI, about the decision today, spokeswoman Selina Kuepfer said in a telephone interview this morning.
While an arbitration panel was set to meet tomorrow to rule on the validity of the Swiss body’s support for the 63-year-old McQuaid, the federation decided to pull its backing because of the legal costs.
It’s a further blow for McQuaid, who already lost the support of his home federation, Ireland, in his bid for another presidential term. His chances of re-election may now depend on a possible rule change to allow any two federations to back a candidate, not just the domestic body.
McQuaid, who’s led Aigle, Switzerland-based UCI since replacing Hein Verbruggen in 2005, faced calls to resign from Greg LeMond and other former riders following the Lance Armstrong doping scandal. Neither Verbruggen nor McQuaid did enough to catch Armstrong, LeMond and others said.
The UCI on Jan. 29 disbanded an external commission set up to review its handling of Armstrong, with McQuaid saying a better way to “clear the air” was to create a truth and reconciliation panel to study cycling’s past.
McQuaid may now be ineligible for re-election, according to Jaimie Fuller, owner of sportswear firm Skins, who funded the Change Cycling Now pressure group. The Guardian newspaper quoted Fuller as saying, “This should finally signal an end to Mr. McQuaid’s quest for re-election. Mr. McQuaid should now accept that the writing is on the wall and stop this ridiculous charade.”
Brian Cookson, a member of the UCI’s management committee since 2009 and president of British Cycling, is the only other candidate for the presidency.
“This latest development is of real significance to the presidential election process,” Cookson said on his website. “It leaves Mr. McQuaid in a very difficult position, particularly when viewed alongside his failure to receive a nomination from his own national federation as required under the constitution of the UCI.”
Kuepfer did not say whether Swiss Cycling would now back Cookson. A vote on the presidency is scheduled for Sept. 27 in Florence.
Calls to the UCI, seeking comment from McQuaid on the Swiss decision, weren’t picked up.