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McQuaid loses backing of Swiss Cycling Federation in re-election bid

The incumbent UCI president now faces a bigger challenge with a month left before the election

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Swiss cycling officials confirmed Wednesday they are reversing course and will not endorse UCI president Pat McQuaid’s nomination for a third term.

The Swiss Cycling Federation released a statement Wednesday saying it has withdrawn its support for the Irishman’s candidacy as UCI president ahead of an arbitration hearing scheduled for Geneva on Thursday.

After already losing support of Cycling Ireland, the latest move comes as a blow in McQuaid’s quest to stand for a third term in a re-election contest against rival candidate Brian Cookson.

McQuaid told VeloNews on Tuesday evening he was “not aware” of reports that Swiss Cycling was poised to withdraw its support. He met the news on Wednesday with defiance.

“This election will be decided by the voting delegates at the UCI Congress in Florence, Italy, on September 27th despite attempts by [Cookson] and those who support his campaign to eliminate me from the contest,” McQuaid said in a press release. “This was apparently a snap decision in the face of mounting pressure from the company who financed the challenge to my Swiss nomination and whose actions threatened to condemn the Swiss Cycling Federation to financial ruin had it proceeded to an arbitration hearing and lost.”

Cookson released a statement on his website Wednesday, saying the latest development has “real significance” in the upcoming election, set for September 27.

“It leaves Mr. McQuaid in a very difficult position, particularly when viewed alongside his failure to receive a nomination from his own national federation as required under the constitution of the UCI,” Cookson said. “It also places further question marks against his other ‘nominations’ whose validity is in serious doubt and remain a matter of genuine concern to many in the cycling world.”

With a little more than a month to go for the scheduled election set to coincide with the road world cycling championships in Italy, time could be running out for McQuaid.

The Irishman will now look for support from federations such as Thailand and Morocco, a controversial move that will surely fan the flames among detractors.

The latest move will center on interpretation of the UCI Constitution and in particular Article 51, which outlines how a candidate must be endorsed for candidacy for presidency.

Swiss Cycling Federation statement (translated from German)

“The executive board of Swiss Cycling reviewed its decision of 13 May 2013 concerning the endorsement of Pat McQuaid and decided [Tuesday] to withdraw the support of Pat McQuaid for his re-election to the presidency of the UCI. Thus, the request for arbitration by three members of Swiss cycling will be terminated without decision.”