The McQuaid Problem


Pat McQuaid has secured nomination for a third term as the president of the UCI. It is McQuaid’s most selfish, telling act since Floyd Landis elected to detonate the façade of legitimacy laid over the U.S. Postal Service Cycling Team. We’ve seen clearly in the past that McQuaid has really only cared about the truth when it serves to protect his role as UCI president. I had held out the hope that maybe if the Irish cycling federation listened to the worldwide cry to give McQuaid a retirement watch and chose not to nominate him for a third term, that maybe he would respect the wishes of his federation and go with some class.

I must have been smoking crack.

No, instead McQuaid made an end-run on the process and went to the Swiss federation and asked them to nominate him. Because McQuaid resides in Switzerland while he serves as UCI president, he is eligible to request nomination from them.

Let’s think about that for a second. The sitting president can be nominated by either his home federation or by the Swiss federation. No one else who might choose to run for president has that ability. No rider can simultaneously carry licenses from two federations. In the American political process, you can’t be nominated for president by more than one party. No one can vote in more than one community.

It’s a great illustration of just how broken the UCI is.

Of his decision to request nomination by the Swiss federation McQuaid said, “It has become clear that my nomination in Ireland has been politicised by a small group of people. However, I have received a wealth of letters from national federations all around the world urging me to stand for President again and I strongly believe that it should be for our national federations around the world to decide democratically on their next president.”

Pardon me, but it sounds like a reelection for McQuaid will be less about democracy than an understanding of how to game the system.

The problem with McQuaid remaining in power is a simple one. The entire peloton can clean up of its own accord, refusing everything from oxygen-vector doping to caffeine, and that really wouldn’t solve the doping problem. Why not? Well, without credible leadership that allows anti-doping efforts to be conducted  without interference and—more importantly—with the assurance that a full battery of testing is being conducted at all races every year, we will have no reason to believe that the sport is clean. We’re way past the point of taking anyone at their word. What we need is a manager who gets the bottom line, someone who can make sure WADA is free reign to do their job without turning the process into an occasion for political grandstanding. It’s hard to say where we might find a candidate for that role, but of this much we can be certain: Pat McQuaid isn’t it.



  1. John

    You should know that a large number of Irish cycling clubs have lobbied the governing body, Cycling Ireland to hold an EGM to decide whether or not Cyclinv Ireland should endorse Pat McQuaid to run for president of the UCI for a third time.

    Pat decided that he did not like the idea of his peers in Ireland exercising a democratic right and hence scuttled off to Switzerland to seek their nomination.

    Despite this affront to the ordinary members of CI and affiliated clubs the EGM will still go ahead next month. My own opinion is that very few cyclists in Ireland would lobby their clubs to back McQuaid. By and large the membership seems split between those who passionately want change and those who are completely ambivalent.

    It is uncertain as of yet as to whether PMcQs nomination is legally valid – it would seem to contravene the UCIs own regulations about holding two licences. If PMcQ is to accept the Swiss nomination I think that he needs to prove that he is no longer a member of CI and is a member of the Swiss federation.

    But your post captures the raison d’être of McQuaid – a man that will do everything to hold power despite all evidence that he should be accountable for his stewardship of cycling and retire.

  2. Mike

    Actually, you can be nominated by multiple parties in US elections. In New York State, the Republican nominee is often the Conservative nominee as well. The same can be true for the Republican and Democratic parties, technically, though it will never happen. Also, we all vote in multiple communities (city, state, federal).

    If McQuaid were out tomorrow, for whatever reason, it would not change the structural issues with how the sport is funded and run. He’s just a figurehead for a far larger problem relating to a system that is inherently un-democratic, much like how US senators were elected by state legislatures up until the 17th Amendment mandated direct election in 1913. The UCI president should be elected by popular vote by license holders in every national federation and not by the national federations themselves. And that’s just the start of a long process of making the UCI beholden to its actual constituents, the riders.

  3. David Jones

    “. . . I have received a wealth of letters from national federations all around the world urging me to stand for President again . . .”
    Please share these letters with us, Mr. McQuaid.

  4. randomactsofcycling

    It is really beholden of those that have the power and influence, to use it. The most highly visible, marketable and ‘profitable’ members of the UCI, the ProTour Teams, are where the action will happen.
    It will not be long before a break-away league is formed. then the serious questions of allegiance will be asked of all the National Federations. Who do I back? The current ‘omerta’ riddled regime or a fresh organisation that is commercially driven?
    It is unfortunate that, as John has mentioned, ambivalence and even apathy, is the most powerful ‘force’ in the World. And not just the cycling world.

  5. Sam

    I can’t imagine it terribly difficult for each federation to ask its memebers to access their online accounts, cast a vote for office holders, and then said federation vote according to the results. The whole process is ascribed a democratic title, but I’ve not yet seen where I participate–other than purchase a license–be it USAC or the UCI.

  6. Tom in albany

    @randomacts… My son is 7. He likes to play superhero and have me play the bad guy. The bad guy that I made up that he really dislikes is Lump Man. I just sit there and do nothing. My son asks, “Why is he bad?” I explain, “the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

    I hadn’t realized I could have called myself president of the UCI.

  7. Peter lin

    quite honestly I doubt UCI is fixable. The cyclists and sponsors need to abandon UCI and setup a completely different system. One that promotes long term health, instead of the current system where pro cyclists have very little security.

  8. Luis Oliveira

    Well, if pro cycling can not find sponsors in Holland, of all places (we’ll have Blanco and Blanco 2 next season), is this really a sustainable proposition?

    I mean, really, this is a governance problem. You have an organization that is designed to take care of an amateur sport (or a much smaller pro one) and that is now in charge of a global business. And no one is accountable to the stakeholders.

    I say let MacQuaid have it. He deserves to be surrounded by cronies like him (or anyone believe the national federations process to be much better or more representative?). I more interested on how ASO finds it’s next president.

  9. Full Monte

    What then does this say about who and what of the Swiss federation?

    Who are these people? How can they have such a blind, cynical, or ambivalent position as to nominate McQ?

    As for a breakaway league, RandomActs, is there enough world appetite from a funding point of view for two elite pro organizations? Are there enough means of funding? Corporate sponsorship? Especially in the wake of the Armstrong debacle? I ask because years ago, there was a split in American open wheel auto racing, another corporately sponsored sport. It nearly killed open wheel racing as CART and IRL could never, on their own, fund a deep enough field to be competitive or interesting.

  10. Bart Scrivener

    Hey, Patrick . . . Totally agree. But let’s clean up your grammar/spelling:

    “What we need is a manager who gets the bottom line, someone who can make sure WADA is free reign to do their job . . .”

    Should read:

    What we need is a manager who gets the bottom line, someone who can make sure WADA HAS free REIN to do ITS job . . .

    1. Author

      Bart: I differ with both the AP and the Supreme Court on companies. In my writing, I refer to them in the plural in order to remind the reader that they are made up of groups of people.

  11. RP

    Your article and the ensuing comments by your astute readers are heartening, unfortunately we cannot change the course of Mcquaid’s business, he’s played the system like a devilish fiddler.
    Too bad for cycling.

  12. TucsonMTB

    So . . . who do you believe would be a better choice?

    It seems that a simple “vote out the incumbent” approach has not served us well in national, state, or even local, real-world politics.

    1. Author

      TucsonMTB: I’d let Travis Tygart take a swing at it. Then we’d see if he really was interested in cleaning up the whole of cycling or just wanted the Armstrong trophy on his wall.

      But no one is asking me. I mean, other than you.

  13. Steve O

    Padraig: Tygart? Seriously? His experience as an executive is what again? And, since this is what passes as journalism on the Internet, where’s the quote where he said his goal in life was to clean up international cycling? Ok … lightening up … assuming that was just a joke that fell flat.

    1. Author

      Steve O: My suggestion is based on how critical he has remained of cycling’s leadership. He’s not, by any means, a candidate who has been vetted by a search committee. That said, as CEO of USADA, I do think he has demonstrated that he has the chops for leadership. Cycling is a mess. Someone needs to finish the job. I’d like to find out if he really is committed or just wanted the trophy.

  14. Carn Soaks

    Padraig and Friends,
    I expect that any letter from a national governing body to the UCI, especially citing favour or officially requesting PMQ’s re-enrolment for re-election would be public documents. I call on readers from all nations to request copies of such letters as sent by their national bodies to highlight the falacy of PMQ’s statement. If in fact it is true, did these letters come from the “friends of PMQ” in the cycling third world, where he has been facilitating World Cup Races that compete against time honoured and storied races in the economic centres of the cycling world? (but that maintain fewer voting blocks than those he is manipulating).

    I’ve spent the past 18 months reading PMQ’s public letters, those between himself and the WADA & USADA organisations are a phenomenal insight into the mindset of this narcissistic self promoter. His double speak, blame transferal, manipulation of facts and rule twisting logic confounds me. I would expect that in the cycling world of perhaps 100 million interested parties, there might be a few smart enough to poke holes through his smoke screen and bring to light the grievous malignant mal-justice he is doing the sport and his efforts to control this best of sports / athletic past-times.
    The Dopage saga must actually benefit him in some way – similar to the way an attack on NYC ensured incumbent RHS democracies stayed in power in 2001. He highlights necessary advances in controls as initiatives he introduced, rather than actually tried to rescind. An in-depth look into the Michael Ashenden case history will reveal the way the UCI bureau of secrets & lies thwarted hard working fair play enthusiasts.

    Aside from my unending rant about PMQ’s lies, I recommend reading his letters to Tygart, and WADA Board to reveal the continual lies and misrepresentation of the man at our sports head. The disseminate to everyone in a place of influence to help thwart this evil thug-lout-bully.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *