The Pat McQuaid File


The title of this post is drawn from an extraordinary document drawn up by five Irish cyclists—Anthony Moran, Dr. Conor McGrane, Paul Atkinson, Mark Gill and Dr. Cillian Kelly. The document lays out an argument for why McQuaid should not achieve yet another nomination. Cycling’s stakeholders have shown zero confidence in McQuaid’s leadership for years, and as Moran and company note, while they’d like to have an Irishman leading the UCI, their love and concern for the sport trump national pride; as a result, they think it’s time to find a new president. Moran, you may recall, was the board member of Cycling Ireland who resigned from said board when, initially, Pat McQuaid was nominated for a third term as president of the UCI.

The document is a thorough survey of McQuaid’s tenure, and indicts him not just on the basis of the UCI’s failure to address doping as effectively as it could have, but also on the basis of governance issues (his in-fighting with WADA, USADA and ASO, among others) and McQuaid’s obvious power grab through his efforts to further globalize cycling through promoting new races.

The document does more than remind us of each of the high-profile doping cases the sport has suffered while he has served as president, it reminds us of all the people who gave testimony of some kind about doping, be it Emma O’Reilly, Jorg Jaksche or Floyd Lanids, and how McQuaid never once investigated. Early in the file there is a particularly damning quote:

“We believe the conflict of interest between anti-doping and promotion of the sport has never been addressed. Anti-doping measures appear to be introduced on the back of yet another crisis. We find it regrettable that the UCI comes across as reactionary, not pro-active in the fight against doping. We think that the UCI’s anti-doping efforts have been too narrowly focused on riders as opposed to managers, teams and doctors. What’s more, it is our belief that the UCI is reluctant to pursue global stars who become the key asset in its globalisation strategy. It is our view that this sends a bad message to young cyclists considering whether to dope or not. The UCI’s actions have resulted in short term commercial gains, however, these gains appear quickly lost in the destructive aftermath of doping scandals. We believe the UCI’s public feuding with Anti-Doping agencies such as WADA and USADA cast it in a terrible light. The UCI appears to lack leadership. Without strong leadership we feel there is little opportunity for the sport to progress.”

What the group lays out following that is a point-by-point survey of each of the UCI’s failures to ferret out doping, then moves on to the problems with his governance (reminding us how he called both Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton “scumbags” following their confessions) and then illustrates the problem caused by promoting new races, such as the Tour of Beijing. They remind the reader that the existence of a for-profit company (Tour of Beijing promoter Global Cycling Productions of which McQuaid is president), within a non-profit organization is a conflict of interest.

The writers remind the reader that McQuaid’s background is as a race promoter and show how McQuaid is using the UCI in effect as his own race promotions company. Because the GCP is for-profit, we now have some idea why McQuaid would cling so tenaciously to power in an organization that is so clearly at odds with its primary mission.

For any reader who still thinks Pat McQuaid is fit to lead the UCI, this document should disabuse said reader of that illusion. It’s a relief to know that there are those cycling enthusiasts in Ireland who place the sport ahead of nationalistic concerns. We can hope that the nominating committee in Switzerland will consider this document should they further examine his candidacy.

On a related note, McQuaid’s recent quotes regarding Opercion Puerto betray his true concerns. He told Cyclingnews, “I still think that there are more athletes implicated [beyond cycling]. That’s the information I have but I don’t have proof. It’s a pity that cycling is the only sport that has been affected.”

It shows that he’s less concerned about the full truth as regards cycling than just making sure cycling isn’t the only sport embarrassed by the scandal—yet more proof that his priorities are not in order.

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  1. Byron

    Said a few times that when the CEO who signed the checks that paid for the doping admits and regrets it, the sport will move on. Until now it’s always the spin of a personal failure and how could he with the mean girls of the peloton shaming the other.

    We just saw it happen with DiLuca and Fast Freddie, both brought in as mercenaries for the win.

  2. thelastbard

    In light of your article, is there any credibility in the candidacy of Cookson, current head of British Cycling, to replace McQuaid at the head of UCI? I know relatively little about him outside the brief news report released today.

    1. Author

      Byron: Thanks for stopping by. Great insight, as per usual.

      Thelastbard: I just read of Cookson’s candidacy this morning. I’ll be reading up on him in the next day or two. I know next to nothing about him, other than his name has been common in British cycling circles for ages. One thing’s for certain: He couldn’t possibly be worse. Hell, he couldn’t possibly be as bad.

    1. Author

      Damien P: Because the UCI is not a corporation, there is no CEO role as such, so the president is the top dog. If we were German, maybe we’d call the role top Schweinhundt (pig-dog).

  3. Evan

    McQuaid sent a letter to all the Federation Presidents today. It was a horrible SMEAR campaign against Cookson. It shows the depths of depravity. Very frightening really.

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  4. Evan

    Perhaps the most serious reason to stop McQuaid is his disavowal of any wrong doing even today and saying in fact he would do it again of going to South Africa during apartheid under disguise and a different name, taking Sean Kelly five years his junior and being banned when discovered for life from the olympics.

    It shows egotism, selfishness, depraved indifference, rule breaking and callousness Most importantly his complete rationalization and arrogance about it currently is the best predictor of his personality and non ability to lead. An arrogant rule breaker in charge of a regulatory agency.

    1. Author

      Evan: Thanks for sharing that link. I agree with you that McQuaid’s South African cycling safari was criminal and indicated long ago his moral compass needed adjusting. Never happened. Given the way he likes to coerce others, I wonder how he got the other cyclists to agree to go. You wonder what he said to Kelly, if for no other reason than we know Kelly has seen lots of shit and has yet to spill a single bean.

  5. RP

    McQuaid said …
    2005 – McQuaid on Hein Verbruggen: … “he will be remembered as the greatest president we had had. He did a tremendous job for our sport. We indeed owe him a lot”.
    2006 –  “This is now going to become a personal crusade of mine, I am determined to tackle it – we have to get rid of anyone who is doping, for once and for all.”
    2007 –  McQuaid commented. “The UCI cannot accept that an individual or organization damages our sport.”
    2013 – McQuaid said about the Armstrong affair “We have moved on from that controversy. It was not at all a blow to cycling and I don’t see it has left any negative impact on the sport,” 
    On 29 January 2013, WADA said it is “dismayed” by the way cycling’s global governing body has handled the fallout from the Lance Armstrong affair and accused it of being “deceitful” and “arrogant”. John Fahey, the president of WADA, concluded that “UCI has again chosen to ignore its responsibility” to cycling.

  6. Walter

    Cookson seems to have led UK cycling through a bad spell and guided it to success w/o drama, conflict or claims of wrongdoing.

    His Q&A published today on other sites shows a thoughtful approach and a commitment to transparency and an absence of conflict of interest (something the UCI has sidestepped for years). See, e.g.,

    Perhaps the best endorsement for him is the gutter-level game that McQuaid is starting to try to smear him, not be fact, but by linking him to “activists” and “those making covert threats against” him.

  7. Diane


    But we need more than “couldn’t be worse’ couldn’t be as bad” – we need transparency, honesty, and a willingness to clean house and “git ‘er done!”

    This whole sordid affair is exhausting!


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