this article was written by cp and originally appeared in The Roar
The drama and tension is supposed to belong on the road, not off it. Not in stuffy offices with strip lighting and Ikea desks, the characters wearing Hush Puppies and blue suits rather than Sidis and lycra.
Yet the battle this time isn’t for a stage win or a Tour jersey, but for the soul of the sport, and if the battle ground must be a dreary municipal courtroom in Switzerland rather than the majestic hairpins of Alpe d’Huez, then so be it.
Just yesterday news came through that Swiss Cycling had withdrawn its nomination of Pat McQuaid for the UCI presidential election, coming next month, a statement that was quickly denied by McQuaid, just before he ran off, chased in black and white by a gang of Keystone Cops.
He really does seem to live in a parallel universe, Mr McQuaid, in some farcical land where facts seem not to matter.
‘Dodge and deny’ seems to be his motto. That it’s stood him in such good stead until now is quite incredible.
“The managing committee of Swiss cycling has returned to its decision of 13 May 2013 regarding the nomination of Pat McQuaid and decided to withdraw the nomination of Pat McQuaid for his re-election to the presidency of the UCI,” the statement from Swiss Cycling read.
It’s worth remembering McQuaid was already bending the rules in seeking the nomination from Swiss Cycling, after Cycling Ireland had gathered its members to vote ‘no’ to the question or whether to back him for a third term as UCI president.
McQuaid’s interpretation of the rules did not align with the majority of people who care about cycling, and when voices of unrest began to be heard (despite McQuaid having a finger in each ear and singing ‘la-la-la-la’ at the top of his voice), he then scuttled off to Malaysia to ask their cycling federation to ask for a new amendment to the UCI rule that pertained to his case.
His position is now unenviable, and it looks for all intents and purposes as though this duck has had his day. But then, this is McQuaid.
He has shown to date a disregard for the valid concerns of the cycling fan and a refusal to accept the severity and depth of the problem this sport has with banned substances, preferring instead to preen his feathers and ignore any calls for real change.
The women’s side of the sport has been grossly neglected and the growth of cycling in Asia in particular is being encouraged with disregard to proper drug testing.
But what of the alternatives? Well, we have just one. I am dismayed by this, to think that our choice is limited to just two candidates.
The other candidate is Brian Cookson, who now looks to be set to win the election by default, not something, really, to cheer about, no matter the circumstances.
Cookson has been saying encouraging things and, though it is no real comfort, cannot possibly be worse at the job than McQuaid has been.
“The important principle in any democracy is that you must respect the rules as they are, not how you’d like them to be,” said Cookson, speaking of McQuaid’s position after Swiss Cycling left him high and dry.
“My hope remains that we have a democratic process based on the rules of the race when it started rather than those made up half way through.
“For my part I remain focussed on setting out the policies and the vision that I believe is needed for the UCI and the sport of cycling to move forward.”
A vision? Move forward? I’ll believe it when I see it.