As countries around the world ruled by Kings and Dictators, rather than democratically elected governments fight for their freedom; it seems the UCI, the world governing body of the sport of cycling has its own dictator in the form of President Pat McQuaid. (Above.)
The former Irish pro bike rider has managed to piss off just about everybody, from the bike industry, to the promoters and now the professional cyclists. Without all of these different entities there would be no sport of cycling, and yet he still he remains in office.
Unfortunately we need organizations like the UCI just as countries need governments, democratic or not. Within separate countries there are smaller local governments, and usually within a democratic society these too are elected officials that can be voted out of office.
In theory that is. In practice there are cities within democratic countries where local mayors and other officials have been in power twenty or more years, about the length of time many of the world’s dictators have held on to power. Often they stay in power because there is no alterative candidate to oppose.
And so it goes on in any society, below any system of government there are smaller systems run by officials, some paid some not. Many unpaid volunteers do a job out of love for what they do, or for the benefit of the group as a whole.
It might be a group as small as a ladies sewing circle, or an athletic club; when the group gets beyond a certain size it needs structure in order to continue. That means a set of rules, and elected officials to oversee the day to day running of the club or organization.
I always tended to shy away from holding any official position within a cycling club where I was a member. I did on many occasions act as event organizer for bike races, it was something I enjoyed doing, but that was as far as my bike officialdom went. I was like the majority of members in any cycling club; I just wanted to race and ride my bike.
Here I have to generalize in my observations, which can be a mistake because there are always exceptions to the generalization. But over the years I have seen two types of people who become officials in cycling clubs.
There are the nice guys, they are the ones who step up because they have the ability to organize and do the job. Often it is time consuming and no one else wants the job, so they volunteer for the benefit of the group as a whole.
Then there are the control freaks; they want to see the job done their way, and by volunteering they will be in charge ensuring that things are run according to their way of thinking.
When it comes to club level elections of officials, the nice guys will often only take on the job only if no one else wants to do it, but if there is someone else willing to run they will not oppose. So the controlling types tend to end up in charge.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not necessarily a bad thing. A bike store owner may start a local club and put money into it. This could be considered a private enterprise, and not particularly democratic, but as long as it benifits the members what harm is there?
Also at a club level if the membership does not like the way things are run, they will leave and join another club, or form a new one.
It becomes a problem when it reaches National or World level as is currently happening with the UCI. We have a person in charge that is running this organization the way he and his cronies see fit. Not necessarily a way that is for the greater benefit of the sport.
The UCI President in theory could be voted out of office; however, the average members of clubs affiliated to their National Cycling bodies cannot do this. And like getting your local mayor out of office you also need a strong candidate to oppose the incumbent.
The only group with any power to oppose the Pat McQuaid and the UCI right now are the professional cyclists. Their demand of representation before major rule changes are made is not unreasonable.
Does the UCI need the professional cyclists more than the Pros need the UCI? It is going to be interesting.