Comment: Pat McQuaid's finish-line shifting is bizarre. It's time he went

He is a tit-for-tat man, deploying a level of argument not out of place at happy hour writes Robin Scott-Elliot

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The Independent Online

Let's lay this down in black and white, because after all it is an election and so there has to be clarity: this is a democratic process we are talking about. Candidates in this particular election had to declare themselves with an accompanying nominee by the last day of June. So far so straightforward, and pretty much the norm for an election. Now for the campaigning and then the vote. Or not.

Instead it was announced on Monday night that – in the back-of-envelope style of governance for which the UCI, cycling's ruling body, is becoming deservedly famous – before the 42 members of the electoral college come to vote on the next president in Florence in September, they will have to first vote on the nominations procedure for the election in which they are about to take part.

At the same meeting at which they will chose a president they will also decide how that field should have been determined, switching into the past tense there because their decision will then be retrospectively applied. Clear? Stop applauding, Mr Mugabe.

Cycling has not had to work hard to dig up problems in recent years, but the UCI's ability to keep their foot on the shovel is extreme even by the standards of a number of the other global governing bodies that base themselves in Switzerland, the land of the cuckoo clock.

Whenever there is a chime of criticism about him or his governance of the sport, Pat McQuaid pops out to have a vigorous pop back. He is a tit-for-tat man, deploying a level of argument that would not be out of place during a pub's happy hour. Today he seemed to suggest that this proposed change in the electoral process – which to be fair to him was put forward by the Malaysian federation and the Asian confederation – was good for cycling because at least that meant there would be a contest and a choice of candidates, never mind that without it he might not be in a position to stand for re-election.

It is embarrassing for the sport he represents. And this is a great sport that is in desperate need of serious leadership. The UCI's response to the Lance Armstrong affair has been overly defensive and inadequate. Cycling has made proper strides against doping and is doing more to combat the problem than any other sport, but it has not done enough.

Sometimes in any area of governance the need for change outweighs everything else, and what this latest, and frankly bizarre, attempt to shift the finish line by blocking the agreed one with the McQuaid bandwagon underlines is that this is one of them.

McQuaid, as his strong support in Asia and parts of Africa suggests, has done much for the global expansion of the sport. He has at times sought to address the issue of doping – while denying any UCI responsibility for doing little to prevent the development of a ruinous doping culture within the sport – but, and no matter how much the final-stage route may be altered, for the good of the sport this needs to be the end of his presidency.