UCI Beijing blackmail. Just the latest McQuaid failure.
In the last several years, McQuaid has come to symbolize all that is wrong in the sport of cycling. His lack of vision, inability to guide the sport, his vindictiveness, his lack of ethics, his astonishing ability to alienate team managers, industry manufacturers and sponsors all mark him as a colossal failure as UCI president.
He is the head of a governing body incapable of governing and the Beijing blackmail is only the latest act in a consistent pattern of gross misconduct and incompetence. Perhaps the most stunning indictment of the UCI is that despite the track record of failure, he remains in office.
Pick any subject you like: the mishandling and coverup of the Alberto Contador clenbuterol test, the on-going failure to communicate with manufactures about bike standards, the Armstrong bribe slash donation, the inability to work with WADA, , the staggering series of missteps surrounding the race-radio mandate, the dictatorial leadership style that infuriates and insults team managers and sponsors.
McQuaid runs the UCI as a private men’s club where family connections and back room deals are standard operating procedure. Just to cite two recent examples, the awarding of the World Championships to Richmond Virginia was clouded with charges of cronyism. McQuaid’s brother Darach runs Shadetree Sports, the marketing agency in charge of organizing Richmond’s bid.
The Tour of Beijing itself is also the subject of rumor concerning the close connections between the UCI, old boss Hein Verbruggen and some of the high level consultants who live right in McQuaid’s backyard.
[Addition] Friday, officials for the Tour of California accounced that the UCI performed zero blood tests for the entire eight day stage race. The reason given: McQuaid backed out of the agreement just one day before the race started.
McQuaid has a kind of Midas touch — everything he puts his hands on turns to shit. Teams have become so disgusted with the lack of communication and open dialogue that this year they walked out in masse in the middle of McQuaid’s speech.
Relations became so bad that eleven ProTour teams actually considered forming their own breakaway league. What other sport can you name where all the major players actively want to leave? McQuaid’s response: insults and threats.
This year HTC-Highroad, the most successful team on the ProTour, folds because they can’t find a sponsor. This would seem to be an ominous sign for the health of professional cycling and worth a closer examination of the financial model for sponsorship.
People like Jonathan Vaughters, Johan Bruyneel and Bob Stapleton think there has to be a better way. The reaction at UCI headquarters? A deafening silence. Your biggest, most high profile team goes under and you have nothing to say. If that doesn’t define a leadership vacuum, what does?
We’re not shocked by Patrick McQuaid’s threatening letter to sponsors. The only shock is that despite a history of incompetence, he remains UCI president.