Gaudry: “It went back to a fair-and-square election…”
There has been plenty of commentary about the recent UCI election but not much of it has come from the delegates involved in the congress at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence on 27 September. In part two of our interview with the recently appointed UCI vice-president, Tracey Gaudry, we ask about the day of the vote… and she reminds us of the events that were played out before the 24/18 vote in favour of new president Brian Cookson.
RIDE presents the interview with Tracey Gaudry in three parts.
• Part 01: Gaudry’s appointment as UCI vice-president
• Part 02: The actual UCI election process
• Part 03: The future – and what will be done
– Tracey Gaudry interview (part 02) –
18 October 2013
– By Rob Arnold
RIDE: Let’s talk about the actual election. A lot of people were following it and it was highly anticipated: 27 September 2013 is going to down as a day when cycling took a dramatic change. You were part of an amazing setting in Florence and there was quite a bizarre set of circumstances leading to what was ultimately a vote by 42 delegates…
Can you explain those few hours and how you managed them personally?
Tracey Gaudry: “Amongst your readers there are racing cyclists and recreational bike riders. To use a racing analogy, think of it as the world championships – the time when all of the cards are there to be played. It was a very tactical environment over the course of several hours even when things should be quite straight forward.
“Every step that’s taken, or move that’s made or not made, is part of the process of: how do the candidates maximise their chances of winning?
“Let’s be brutally honest, you don’t go through a process like that without it affecting you very deeply even when you are not a candidate.
“The uncertainty, the tension, the nausea… these are things that are part of a political world. I’d not like to ask anyone to put themselves in a situation like that. It was not easy.
“It was extremely tense for everyone. I guess I could say that it was a baptism of fire; I couldn’t have come at a better time to learn. And if it was possible to deal with the tough stuff over that period of time, then you can deal with just about anything.
“On the day of the election we were five hours into the congress, we dealt with some pedestrian matters, then came the deliberation which was about an hour-and-a-half long, I think, about Pat McQuaid’s candidacy. That was the bit that held up everything and it took place after the deliberation of the proposed constitutional changes which, you may recall, if implemented were actually going to change the way in which the election process was run.
“That hour-and-a-half deliberation was about saying, ‘Does the congress support a change in the constitution that would be implemented instantly the moment those changes are made – that would change the voting process, or change the considerations you make when you vote?’
“I’m pleased that the New Zealand and Australian delegates amongst others were firm in that, from a governance perspective, we shouldn’t be changing the constitution on the day of an election when the implementation of those changes would change the way that the election was run.”
RIDE: There was an original vote that resulted in a count of 21 to 21. When you went to the final ballot about leadership – which Brian [Cookson] finally declared ought to happen – was there a concern that there might have been an even vote again?
“It’s a good question and it’s important to clarify because I think there’s a bit of confusion about what that original poll was.
“The vote that was 21-all was about the proposed constitutional changes I mentioned before – those things about which countries a candidate could be nominated by – and the proposal that the voting delegates are one from each nation, versus the current 42 voting delegates allocated from the five continents. That original vote was for whether those changes could be implemented immediately. It wasn’t about Pat’s candidacy.”
RIDE: Yes, but it did instil the notion that the next vote could have been a draw…
“I actually took faith that the equal outcome (the 21/21 vote) – which meant the proposed constitutional changes were not upheld as there was not a clear majority – showed that enough people in the delegation, enough of the congress, recognised that good governance meant that if we’re going to change the way in which the UCI is governed, it should have future impact and it should impact the matters on that day.
“In my opinion that actually squared things away a little bit and allowed us to get on with the proper focus of the matter which was the election of the president under the current constitution.”
RIDE: Do you feel that if Brian Cookson didn’t stand up and say, ‘Come on let’s just do the vote and accept that McQuaid is a candidate…’ that it would have just fizzled away? What was your take on all of that?
“Okay, so then the next part of the congress was a proposed new agenda item based on the ongoing conjecture over Pat’s candidacy – was the congress prepared to vote on his validity as a candidate?
“That was not a scheduled agenda item. And therefore it caused a lot of controversy amongst the voting delegates. They didn’t go there expecting that to be proposed. Therefore it was a difficult question for them to vote on.
“The other confounding factor was that the congress proceedings had already allowed both candidates to present their case to the congress as valid candidates before that question was even posed!
“The way the congress is organised, those 42 delegates are representing their five continents around the world – and they hadn’t had the opportunity to confer amongst their fellow delegates from their continents prior to voting.
“It was getting to the point where some continental delegates were asking to: ‘Call a recess while we go away and think about this’, there was effectively a stalemate situation.
“Brian and Pat to their credit recognised that this situation was not tenable. And Brian went to Pat and I believe indicated along the lines of, ‘We have both presented as candidates. Let’s just get on with it.’
“It could have gone either way – had the proposed vote been taken as to whether Pat was a valid candidate or not. It could have gone: ‘No, he’s not’ – therefore Brian is the only candidate. But, as Brian had already indicated, if he’s the only candidate, he would put himself up for election and seek a majority in favour…
“Or it could have gone the other way, where the congress could have said, ‘Yes, Pat is a valid candidate…’ and that may have indicated a show of support for Pat.
“By Pat and Brian saying, ‘Take that whole candidacy conversation off the table,’ it basically nullified any advantage whichever way that vote would have gone. And it went back to a fair-and-square election about two candidates.”
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