Not Much to Choose between Candidates as McQuaid Unveils His Manifesto for UCI Presidency
Cycling - 08 Jul 2013 - Pat McQuaid, the under-fire president of the UCI, cycling’s world governing body, today unveiled his manifesto for re-election, exactly two weeks after that of his challenger Brian Cookson, the president of British Cycling.
So plain are the problems facing the sport, with doping at the head of them, that the two manifestos inevitably look remarkably similar at first glance.
There are, however, differences in emphasis and in the fine detail of how, in particular, the two candidates propose to tackle the doping problem.
A tit-for-tat exchange of press releases continued today with Cookson responding to McQuaid’s manifesto by saying: “Pat has been President of the UCI for two terms. While his Manifesto outlines what he believes still needs to be done for the UCI, I think that many people will judge him on his record, and ask why those things haven't been done in the last eight years. Unfortunately under his Presidency far too much energy and resource have been devoted to destructive feuding and conflict rather than grabbing hold of the issues, listening to the right people and delivering solutions.
“In his Manifesto he talks about the UCI Stakeholders Consultation but I think he fails to address the number one critical recommendation – that the UCI ‘must take the steps necessary to restore cycling’s and its own credibility, in particular in relation to the public perception of cycling’s anti-doping measures and current UCI leadership’. It is my belief and that of many others that we need a complete change of leadership in order to successfully achieve this.”
Cookson and McQuaid had already openly clashed several times over their respective public statements about the presidency and about the other’s policies, with Cookson in late June accusing his opponent of a “bullying and arrogant style” and of engaging in “sometimes absurd and entirely counter-productive feuds.”
Cookson’s remarks came after McQuaid publicly rebutted Cookson’s own manifesto, point by point, in a statement headed: “Cookson must explain half-baked manifesto.”
In his own manifesto, McQuaid sets out four priorities for the next four years:
• "To preserve the new culture and era of clean cycling
• "To ensure equality in cycling through the development of women’s cycling
• “To modernise the way that cycling is presented as a global sport
• “To foster the global development of cycling.”
This compares with six ‘pledges’ outlined in Cookson’s manifesto:
• “Revolutionise our approach to anti-doping
• “Embrace openness and transparency
• “Grow cycling worldwide
• “Develop women’s cycling
• “Overhaul the structure of elite road cycling
• “Embrace the future together.”
In his manifesto, McQuaid adds: “My mission now is to preserve the changed culture within the peloton and team entourage. I have introduced the most sophisticated and effective anti-doping infrastructure in world sport to cycling. Our sport is leading the way and I am proud that other sports are following in its footsteps.
“The UCI now invests over $7.5 million a year to keep our sport clean and to catch and prosecute those riders who refuse to embrace the new culture of clean cycling. The misdeeds of a few should not be allowed to tarnish the reputation of cycling or today’s riders,” he said.
The manifesto also proposes a series of initiatives “to preserve the new culture and era of clean cycling.” These include:
• “Increasing the independence of the UCI’s Cycling Anti Doping Foundation (CADF). Completing the process to appoint an independent board and locating the CADF outside of the UCI
• “Increasing UCI World Tour teams’ contributions to anti-doping to fund and increase the independence of the CADF
• “Establishing an independent audit of the UCI’s actions during the years when Lance Armstrong was winning the Tour de France.”
McQuaid had previously mocked Cookson for his proposal that anti-doping activities in cycling should be operated independently of the UCI, saying: “Brian Cookson’s manifesto is proposing nothing new on independent anti-doping, because the WADA Code simply does not permit the UCI, or indeed any other international federation, to create an independent anti-doping body…
“What Brian is proposing, when you examine the detail, is simply to relocate the existing Cycling Anti Doping Foundation (CADF) unit, which is as fully independent as the WADA Code permits, outside of the UCI building in Aigle.”
In his manifesto, McQuaid is now apparently proposing the same thing.
Meanwhile, on the issue of women in cycling, McQuaid proposes:
• “Developing a new global women’s elite race calendar that is easy to understand
• “Seeking to ensure that events and teams seeking World Tour status are given priority if events have a women’s race and teams have a women’s team
• “Encouraging more women to hold decision-making positions in cycling.”
But Cookson had himself proposed:
• “Create a Women’s Cycling Commission
• “New events and broadcast initiatives for women riders
• “Appoint at least one woman on every UCI Commission
• “Introduce modern employment standards for women pro riders.”
McQuaid says in his manifesto that he is also “opposed the establishment of private leagues or a World Championship series in cycling.”
McQuaid adds: “The greatest cycling races on the global stage have been fought out in Europe for generations. Their place on the cycling calendar should never be sidelined or replaced by a so called ‘Champions League of Cycling’ which does nothing to promote the global development of our sport.”
In October last year, the UCI declined to comment on a report that it had been offered a stake in a proposed new series, known as World Series Cycling. Gifted Group, the UK organiser behind the proposed series, made the offer after an initial proposal was turned down by the governing body, it was reported. McQuaid had earlier himself referred to the series as a “breakaway.”
In March this year, it was reported that British Sky Broadcasting, the UK pay-television operator, and News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch’s international media group which holds a 40-per-cent stake in BSkyB, had joined talks about the launch of the series which, it was said, would involve many of road cycling’s top professional teams.
McQuaid also claims in the manifesto that as an International Olympic Committee member, he is an “asset” to cycling and that his “voice and influence in successfully resisting calls for cycling to be dropped from the Olympic programme” would be lost if he were he not be re-elected as UCI president.
Notwithstanding such warnings, it appears that McQuaid’s chances of re-election success could depend on the extent to which those in cycling agree with his manifesto claim: “Cycling has been transformed since I became UCI President. There has been a sea change in behaviour and in attitudes to doping in cycling. It is now possible to race and win clean.”
The election is scheduled for September.