sport

Changes favour McQuaid election

Senior figures at the ICU have encouraged amendments to legislation which could favour incumbent president Pat McQuaid's bid for re-election.

As the increasingly hostile battle for the leadership of cycling's world governing body between McQuaid and challenger Brian Cookson intensified today, with verbal barbs exchanged, communication has been uncovered which gives the current chief's detractors further ammunition.

An amendment proposed by the Malaysian Cycling Federation and the Asian Cycling Confederation was re-worded by the UCI, then approved by the parties which proposed it, in order to be valid for next month's election where McQuaid is being challenged by British Cycling president Cookson.

Article 51.1 of the UCI constitution states that "the candidates for the presidency shall be nominated by the federation of the candidate".

The suggested new wording reads that candidates should be nominated by their federation, or "two federations other than the federation of the candidate", but now it can be revealed that UCI general director Christophe Hubschmid and Amina Lanaya, from the world governing body's legal services department, requested the amendment be brought into being retroactively ahead of the UCI congress in Florence, during September's UCI Road World Championships.

In letters dated June 27, 2013, and two days ahead of the deadline for nomination, Hubschmid and Lanaya suggested the re-wording to support McQuaid's position.

The June 29 deadline was also extended until August 30, while the UCI's own legislation suggests the ACC's nomination is invalid, as it is a continental organisation, not an individual federation.

Irishman McQuaid, who has been president since 2005 and is seeking a third four-year term in office at the UCI headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland, failed to win a nomination from Cycling Ireland, is seeing his Swiss Cycling nomination challenged in the courts and has been accused of malpractice in pushing through the regulation change.

British Cycling has issued a legal letter relating to the matter, while the Lithuanian federation is among those to express serious misgivings at the process.

Earlier today McQuaid said Cookson was trying to avoid an election by "associating himself with his federation's legal challenge to matters concerning the governance of the election".

McQuaid has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, insisting no rules had been broken, and called for Cookson to allow the race for power to proceed to a vote amid a leadership battle which is being thrashed out by lawyers.

"I do not fear an open election and I am not at all concerned by my ability to secure the support and votes that I require to be re-elected as UCI president," McQuaid said in a statement.

"While it would appear that Brian has lost confidence in his own ability I continue to challenge him to allow the UCI congress and its voting delegates to decide."

McQuaid is "appalled" by the suggestion of wrongdoing, made by British Cycling in a letter from its lawyers.

"That is an outrageous suggestion," McQuaid said.

"As the president of British Cycling, Brian Cookson must explain his decision to allow his federation - that is funding his campaign - to behave in this way and to use its considerable financial clout to employ lawyers to challenge issues in the election."

Cookson responded in a statement, insisting he wanted nothing more than a fair election and that it was right McQuaid's position and tactics are scrutinised.

Cookson said: "I want nothing more than an open and properly conducted democratic election and vote for the UCI presidency. To suggest otherwise is nonsense.

"It is also true that I, and many in our sport, have legitimate and growing concerns about the retrospective rule bending and attempted manipulation that is taking place at present.

"In my view it is therefore absolutely correct that British Cycling and others have raised concerns regarding proposed rule changes which have a direct impact on the election process now under way. These concerns need to be addressed."