AIGLE, Switzerland (AP) — Under pressure to validate his re-election bid, International Cycling Union President Pat McQuaid cited independent legal advice Tuesday to support his nominations from Thailand and Morocco.
McQuaid said international legal firm Baker & McKenzie confirmed to the governing body that he is entitled to compete against British rival Brian Cookson.
"The nominations are valid. They came in before the closing date (of June 29)," McQuaid said at UCI headquarters.
Lawyers for Cookson, the British Cycling president, have questioned whether McQuaid's candidacy meets UCI rules ahead of the Sept. 27 poll.
Cookson also raised concern that UCI staff may have breached protocol by helping Malaysian officials draft a rule amendment allowing any two member countries to propose a candidate and to apply it retroactively for the current contest.
The proposal, which UCI member countries must approve at their election meeting, came in after McQuaid struggled to secure support from his home Irish federation or Switzerland, where he lives.
Cookson has described the UCI staff's intervention as "a bizarre and deeply worrying set of events."
McQuaid said the governing body's legal advisers in Geneva did not agree.
"It clears the UCI completely from any wrongdoing and it clears the UCI administration of any wrongdoing or any favoritism or ... acting improperly in any way," he said.
The Baker & McKenzie report, a copy of which has been seen by The Associated Press, acknowledges that UCI staff "may have reached a 'gray zone'" by proposing text to the Malaysian federation.
Still, the report endorses the process of creating the congress agenda. It said that process also was "at least silently ratified" by the UCI management board, including Cookson, at its mid-June meeting in Bergen, Norway.
The report backs the UCI in accepting nominations by email from the Thai and Moroccan federations on June 26 and 29, respectively, before getting signed letters by post.
Asked if Cookson might challenge his candidacy and the UCI's handling of election rules at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, McQuaid said: "I would hope that we would not be reduced to that."
"If I am beaten I will walk away. I won't be any going to any (legal) process or anything like that," he said.
McQuaid is seeking a third four-year term following widespread attacks on the UCI and its credibility. Those intensified in the fallout from the Lance Armstrong doping affair and revelations of an endemic culture of doping in recent years.
Cookson, who has served under McQuaid on the UCI board since 2009, has promised to restore cycling's reputation.
The Malaysian rules proposal can be voted on at the Sept. 27 congress in Florence, Italy, before a 42-voter electoral college chooses the president by secret ballot.