Ditch the national endorsements

June 24, 2013

Sure, it’s been interesting watching Pat McQuaid get roundly rejected by the Irish grassroots members, and the courtroom drama out of Switzerland will be riveting too (well, maybe not). And certainly, McQuaid doesn’t have the right to complain about “small groups of people” hijacking the process when he has never before expressed a concern about that process or done anything in his long, long tenure at the UCI to change it.

But aside from the current soap opera, can we not agree that these national endorsements are rubbish? Somebody running for the UCI presidency doesn’t represent his country, at least he/she shouldn’t. In fact, I would prefer a president whose home country is lukewarm about him/her.

The president should further the interests of the sport worldwide, not the interests of their home country  (or country of residence). The obligation to seek such an endorsement creates the risk that the candidate is beholden to a certain country. In fact, this is what happened with McQuaid’s initial endorsements by Cycling Ireland. They agreed to endorse him, but not after extracting promises from McQuaid about initiating certain changes to the way the UCI is run. We may have found those demands appealing, but one country should not have a bigger hold over a future president than another.

In a similar vein, I don’t think that one country should be able to prevent a candidate from running for president as it could potentially prevent a candidate who does not “sufficiently” favor the home country. In this sense, the board of Cycling Ireland had a point when it said the whole cycling community should decide on McQuaid’s record, not the CI board. However, they ruined it precisely by demanding concessions (the most galling of which was a change of the UCI constitution to limit the UCI presidency to two terms, starting AFTER McQuaid would serve his third).

Furthermore, in the CURRENT structure, the endorsement exists expressly to have the national federation judge the candidate and ensure that no unfit candidates turn up. Whether they liked it or not, the rules required them to judge McQuaid and when the members felt that judgment was incorrect, it was right to protest.

Therefore I appreciate what the Irish EGM has done. Agree or disagree with their decision, there is no denying they voted for the right reasons – whether or not McQuaid was fit for the job. They didn’t vote on whether he would be sufficiently pro-Ireland or anything else unrelated.

As such, the EGM used a flawed part of the rules to make the right judgment. I just hope that in the future, the endorsement of a candidate for the UCI presidency will better reflect the global nature of the job. Instead of requiring the endorsement of one country, let them obtain endorsements from 10,000 national federation members in no fewer than 50 countries. That way the candidate will need to engage with  grassroots members instead of just holding secretive private meetings with national federation board members.

8 Responses to “Ditch the national endorsements”

  1. Felipe Botelho Says:

    Agreed. Although the endorsement of federations members would lead to the same bias, as the federations with the most members would have a bigger say in the elections. And having a lot of members not necessarily means that the country is more engaged in cycling when you consider absolute numbers in a population.

    • I don’t think the endorsement by members would lead to the same. First of all because you have to attract members from many different countries. But more importantly, because you would need to seek so many endorsements that the only way to do it is in public. This means that all your promises are public, instead of those made in back rooms. So if a candidate tries to get the nomination by promising to favor one particular country or group, this would be public knowledge and it would seriously hamper the candidate in the actual election.

  2. Evan Shaw Says:

    Looking at the tawdry and completely commercial nature of both the TDF and the UCI and IOC one sees blatant self interests, graft, corruption, and opportunism. It is no wonder that the rules are decidedly NOT democratic, they are more kleptocratic. It is simply not Pat McQuaid that is being egotistical, but the entire system that is resisting being uprooted. There is a great deal of money, power, status, and elitism in the current system. Remember they actually created/enabled Lance Armstrong.

    That Armstrong could suggest giving the UCI a blood machine suggests that they had one themselves. Perhaps, tongue in cheek we should test the blood of Pat and the UCI to see what is in their systems that they strive to remain as exploiters of our sport.

  3. Luis Oliveira Says:

    Funny all this focus on UCI’s election process. It is as if the outcome is bad because good input has been badly processed. This could not be further from reality. What we have are national federations’ heads, the ones that indirectly elect UCI’s president, that are, as a norm, as bad as the current global leadership.

    If UCI’s process is to blame, then we would have to turn around and fix the process in each and most (if not all) national federations first. Then we would have good enough input to start up with.

    As it is, this is a non-starter. And, as anyone can see, the only way out is a professional league that governs the sports with an eye on long term sustainability of teams, not short term gains of a few individuals.

    • How would a professional league solve anything? And run by whom? By the current crop of tainted team owners?

      • Luis Oliveira Says:

        Gerard, a pro league, IF PROPERLY ESTABLISHED (can I make this a bigger IF?), would have the right set of incentives (i.e. money) in place to ensure that everyone would behave properly. Can this be done with the “current crop of tainted team owners”? Heck, we’ve seen stranger things happening, but I really don’t care. Current owners or new owners, we need:

        1. a clean slate
        2. the end of conflict of interests
        3. the right incentives

        All things that can be brought by a pro league.

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