Sylvia Schenk was co-opted as a member of the UCI Management Committee in 2000. In 2003, she was elected a Member of the Management Committee by the UCI Congress, proposed by the German Cycling Federation BDR and the European Cycling Union.
Sylvia Schenk was then appointed President of UCI’s Cyclo-Cross Commission.
Schenk was also President of the German Cycling Federation (BDR) from 2001 until 2004, when she had to resign after losing the confidence of its Board.
In 2005, the BDR did not present her a second time as a candidate for the UCI Management Committee. As a result, she did not participate in the 2005 elections and disappeared from cycling. (She attempted a come-back in 2013, standing for president of BDR, but suffered a serious defeat against Rudolf Scharping: 156 votes for Schenk, 411 votes for Scharping.)
Sylvia Schenk became my opponent as a result of an issue entirely outside of the sport. At that time, I immediately informed the chair of the Ethics Commission of the IOC as I foresaw the difficulties that might arise.
I explained all of these circumstances in detail to the CIRC. To be sure, the information I provided the CIRC was confidential, but that should not have prevented the CIRC from dealing with the “Sylvia Schenk affair” in the full awareness that Schenk’s actions and testimony might have been inspired by revenge.
What is also clear, though, is that either the CIRC simply does not know what it is writing about, or the CIRC has wilfully misrepresented what actually happened. The CIRC has made too many factual mistakes, as I will detail below.
Complaints by Schenk to the UCI Ethics Commission
The CIRC writes that Schenk “referred the matter – i.e. ‘the conduct before Pat McQuaid’s elections, in particular his paid employment for several months before the ballot’ – to the UCI Ethics Commission five times between 2004 and 2005, as well as once to the IOC Ethics Commission and once to the UCI Appeals Board”.
It is clear that the CIRC hasn’t even bothered to look at the complaints filed by Schenk.
Of the complaints to the UCI Ethics Commission, only one of them concerned the “matter”, i.e. the situation of Pat McQuaid before the presidential elections of 2005. This was the complaint that Schenk filed on 27 June 2005.
The other complaints by Schenk to the UCI Ethics Commission concerned other matters: my alleged behaviour at a certain moment during the Management Committee meeting of 23 July 2004; formalities concerning the voting procedure and the minutes of the Management Committee; the tone of a letter written by me concerning irregularities of elections in a continental confederation (for which the CIRC could have given me some credit but of course it doesn’t); and a statement regarding Schenk that I made in an email to Management Committee members.
In this email, I also wrote that Schenk had informed me that several people told her that she should be the UCI President. This Schenk denied, but she didn’t submit that statement to the Ethics Commission.
So the only complaint that Schenk filed relating to “the matter” to the UCI Ethics Commission was the one filed on 27 June 2005.
The CIRC then states that Schenk contested McQuaid’s candidature. This is false and it shows once again that the CIRC did not even look into that complaint, yet feels authorized to write a report about it.
In this complaint, Schenk asked for a report on all payments made to McQuaid and also that these payments should stop. She did not challenge McQuaid’s candidature for President.
At the beginning of the hearing on 19 August 2005, Schenk withdrew her complaint.
Nevertheless, the UCI Ethics Commission issued a statement on 15 September 2005 in which it considered that, in any case, the Schenk’s motions would have been rejected as it had no jurisdiction to grant these motions. The UCI Ethics Commission also considered that neither the assignment of tasks to McQuaid, nor the payment of allowances to him, infringed the UCI Constitution and/or the principles of democracy or fair elections.
The complaint of the UCI Management Committee members against Schenk
On 20 July 2005, all the UCI Management Committee members bar three lodged a complaint against Schenk with the UCI Ethics Commission.
The three members who did not sign the complaint were Schenk herself, Pieter Zevenbergen who was the President of the UCI Ethics Commission and Hee Wook Cho who had just joined the Management Committee as the newly elected President of the Asian Cycling Confederation and was entirely unfamiliar with the situation.
The CIRC misleadingly calls this “a majority of the members of the Management Committee”. It was, in fact, the complete Management Committee barring those who had an impediment. There was otherwise not a single member of the Management Committee who did not agree. The complaint was filed on behalf of all of them.
This complaint concerned misrepresentations and false accusations that Schenk had made concerning “the matter”, the breach of confidentiality that Schenk had committed by sending internal correspondence to third persons and other breaches of the UCI Code of Ethics.
This complaint was in response to Schenk’s complaint of 27 June only. This was the Management Committee’s only complaint against Schenk. It was not in reaction to the other complaints made by Schenk, as the CIRC falsely suggests.
After a hearing where Schenk was heard and assisted by legal counsel, the UCI Ethics Commission in a statement dated 15 September 2005, found that Schenk had made false and misleading statements and had disclosed confidential information and therefore had violated the UCI Code of Ethics.
The CIRC suggests that Schenk appealed this statement with the UCI Appeals Board and writes that “her appeal was rejected by the Appeals Board”.
This is complete nonsense.
Under the UCI rules, there was (and is) no appeal against a statement made by the Ethics Commission. In fact, Schenk had introduced a new, completely separate proceedings to the UCI Appeals Board that I will elaborate on below.
And in any case, how (according to the CIRC) could Schenk possibly have lodged an appeal with the Appeals Board against the UCI Ethics Commission statement on 5 August 2005, if that statement was only actually delivered on 15 September 2005?
More proof if needed of the extremely poor ”quality” of the work carried out by the CIRC.
The CIRC adds, on page 206, that the President of the Ethics Commission sent me a draft ruling of its statement concerning Schenk. I couldn’t find it, but if this did happen, it was certainly not at my request. And I certainly cannot have suggested any changes to this statement, as otherwise the CIRC would certainly have made note of that. So the Ethics Commission came to its conclusions in all independence, as always, as I never have tried to influence its decisions.
Schenk’s complaint with the IOC Ethics Commission
On 18 July 2005, Schenk filed a complaint with the IOC Ethics Commission against the UCI, Pat McQuaid and me concerning “the matter”, in particular the payments made to McQuaid and the support of the UCI Management Committee for one of the three candidates for the UCI Presidency. Schenk complained of a “lack of transparency and fairness”, “no functioning of the UCI Ethics Commission” and “no chance of an objective decision within the UCI… especially not in due time”.
In her complaint, Schenk did not contest McQuaid’s candidature, but only argued that the payment of an allowance to McQuaid was in breach of article 52 of the UCI Constitution. The CIRC incorrectly reports the complete opposite.
On 29 July 2005, the UCI, McQuaid and I sent our responses to the IOC Ethics Commission.
The same day, the UCI Management Committee published a press release to demonstrate its solidarity. In that release, the Management Committee noted “with regret that after her forced resignation from her position as President of the German Cycling Federation (BDR), and because of the numerous controversies which have characterized her mandate, Mrs Schenk has launched herself into a campaign aiming to unsettle the internal balance of the UCI”.
On 15 August, the IOC Ethics Commission decided to defer making a decision until Schenk had exhausted all internal UCI remedies.
On 23 and 25 August, Darsan Singh Gill, also a candidate for the UCI presidency and the Spanish Cycling Federation, the National Federation of Gregorio Moreno, the third candidate for the UCI presidency, joined Schenk’s complaint.
On 21 September, the IOC Ethics Commission ruled that the complainants had offered no proof that the UCI and its President had violated fundamental ethical principles as set out in the Olympic Charter. The Commission regretted, however, “a possible appearance of a clear preference of UCI organs for a candidate for the presidency of an International Federation”.
As I explained, the UCI Management Committee had a very clear and explicit preference for the candidature of Pat McQuaid. The Management Committee took the responsibility of expressing its view on who would be the best candidate for the interests of the UCI. More than others, the Management Committee was in a position to consider the challenges the UCI and cycling were facing. All of this was completely clear and transparent and the Congress was completely free to agree, or to disagree and vote for another candidate.
The petition by Schenk to the UCI Appeals Board
On 5 August 2005, Schenk lodged a petition with the UCI Appeals Board for it to declare that the allowance paid to McQuaid was a violation of Article 52 of the UCI Constitution, that for that reason McQuaid could not be a member of the UCI Management Committee and had to resign – and moreover, that if McQuaid was elected President, he could not accept that election because of the ongoing breach of Article 52 of the Constitution.
As indicated above, the CIRC incorrectly reported that this was an appeal against the statement of the UCI Ethics Commission of 15 September 2005.
The UCI Appeals Board carefully examined the relationship between McQuaid and the UCI concerning his work for the UCI since March 2005 under Swiss law and the allowance he received in compensation for that work. The Board concluded that the relationship had to be qualified as an integrated legal relationship, or at the very most a mandatory relationship, and therefore was not forbidden by the relevant article 52 of the Constitution. The Board concluded further that McQuaid “in no way [was in] breach [of] Article 52 and that the allowances granted to him are justified by article 72 par 4 Constitution. Under these circumstances the respondent 2 (McQuaid) is free to accept an eventually election as President of the respondent 1 (UCI).”
The UCI Appeals Board also ruled that Schenk, whose petitions had been dismissed, had to bear the costs of the proceedings.
This ruling on the costs was the reason that Schenk then appealed to the Swiss court to have the decision of the UCI Appeals Board annulled. Schenk confirmed this in an interview with Cyclingnews on 29 September 2005.
Because, during these proceedings, Schenk continued to make false public statements on the matter, the UCI asked the court in charge of Schenk’s appeal for a provisional injunction ordering Schenk to abstain from making such statements. In view of the negotiations that took place shortly afterwards, the hearing on that request was postponed and eventually didn’t take place.
Regarding this, the CIRC misleadingly writes that “the UCI responded with injunctions”. The UCI did not issue any injunctions. The UCI simply asked the court for an interim injunction pending the outcome of Schenk’s appeal to the court. And, as I said, the UCI suspended its request in order to facilitate an amicable settlement. Naturally, the CIRC makes no mention of this, as it would not fit with the biased picture of a belligerent UCI it likes to draw.
On 18 July 2006, the Court at Vevey ruled that Schenk was not entitled to attack the decision made by the UCI Appeals Board. But as this does not put Schenk in a good light, the CIRC makes no mention of it: for the CIRC, Schenk is always in the right.
Schenk appealed to the Court of Appeals at Vevey. Shortly afterwards, the case was settled out of court.
Also, in her proceedings before the UCI Appeals Board, Schenk did not contest the candidature of McQuaid. She contested whether McQuaid could accept his eventual election if he was to be paid as the UCI President. I quote her argument:
“It is undisputed that the payment by the UCI should continue after he has been elected President of the UCI. As the actual “allowance” for McQuaid – according to Verbruggen’s statement in the Vote Request of 13 July 2005 – has been determined by the actual President and the Financial Director of the UCI it is to fear that a new President – if it really should be McQuaid – would decide himself about his own payment which still will constitute a breach of Art. 52 of the Constitution. It makes no difference whether a member of the MC or the President himself is paid like a full time employee. If the UCI shall have a fully paid President or one or several fully paid members of the MC the Congress has to decide on an amendment of the Constitution. The agenda for the upcoming congress in Madrid does not contain the point “Amendment of the Constitution”.
Therefore it is to state that McQuaid if he is elected President cannot accept it due to the ongoing breach of Art. 52 of the UCI Constitution”.
It is clear that Schenk did not contest the candidature of McQuaid, but rather the possibility of the UCI having a full-time paid President. Schenk submitted that McQuaid could not accept the function of UCI President if he continued to be paid for fulfilling that office. She did not submit that the election of McQuaid would be invalid because of the allowance that had been paid to him before being elected.
During the eight years of his presidency, McQuaid was paid for carrying out a full-time job. This was publicly known and was never contested by anyone.
Similarly, Brian Cookson is paid as UCI President (a salary of 300,000 Swiss Francs) while Article 52 of the Constitution remains in force. I did not hear Schenk, who supported Cookson, make any statement about this.
It is clear then that this was not a fight about the Constitution, or about ethical principles. Instead, it was simply a fight against McQuaid and me.
The CIRC sides with Schenk in this.
Schenk’s motion of 6 July 2005
Contrary to what the CIRC writes, that Schenk did not contest the candidature of McQuaid can also be seen from the following motion put by Schenk (one that is, of course, ignored by the CIRC).
On 6 July 2005 Schenk submitted to the Management Committee the following request:
“ 1. To disapprove the proposal of the President [me] to pay the two other candidates as well.
This means that, if McQuaid had resigned as a member of the Management Committee, Schenk would have accepted that the payment of the allowance to McQuaid could continue. Yet McQuaid still would remain a candidate for the presidency. At the same time, Schenk asked for the withdrawal of my proposal that the two other candidates would also receive an allowance (the same as McQuaid) if they would carry out work for the UCI, just as McQuaid did.
Schenk therefore accepted that only McQuaid should be given the opportunity to carry out work for the UCI and to receive an allowance for that, but not the two other candidates, as soon as McQuaid stepped down as member of the Management Committee. For me, this shows that Schenk admitted that the UCI was not financing or promoting McQuaid to the detriment of other candidates (and indeed, the UCI wasn’t), but that she only wanted to hurt McQuaid.
The request was rejected by all Management Committee members who were in a position to cast a vote.
The CIRC’s victimization of Schenk
On page 106 of its report, the CIRC writes that the Schenk affair is an example of how the UCI took “real or, often only, perceived conspiracies […] as an excuse to stage counter-attacks and to initiate proceedings that absorbed and somewhat blinded the UCI leadership”.
On page 202, the CIRC writes that the Schenk affair is an example of disciplinary procedures undertaken by the UCI, or the threat of such procedures.
How can it be possible to write something like that about a situation where Schenk filed six complaints against the UCI, plus two appeals to the state courts? It shows once again how biased and how baseless this CIRC report is.
The CIRC even goes one step lower in its bias and ineptitude.
The CIRC writes that the accusations raised by Schenk should have been carefully considered by the members of the Management Committee.
Which accusations? The CIRC does specify even one single accusation.
Schenk criticised the payment of an allowance to McQuaid on the basis of her interpretation of article 52 of the UCI Constitution. This is not an accusation: it is just a difference of opinion on Article 52. The UCI Appeals Board ruled that Schenk’s interpretation of Article 52 was wrong and the CIRC does not give as its opinion that Schenk’s interpretation was right. As indicated, Brian Cookson is also paid an ample allowance while Article 52 of the UCI Constitution remains in force: that presents no problem under the Constitution.
Furthermore, on what basis does the CIRC state that the members of the Management Committee did not carefully consider the “accusations” of Schenk? On what basis does the CIRC write that the Management Committee “clearly did not observe a culture of dialogue and dialectal debate”?
There have been numerous discussions and debates with Schenk, both at Management Committee meetings and in correspondence. It is all there in the files! But it is evident that the CIRC did not even look at the files.
Had the CIRC bothered to look at the files, it could have seen the comments made by the members of the Management Committee concerning Schenk’s arguments and actions.
Just because Schenk was not satisfied with the results of these debates and because she was unhappy that no other member of the Management Committee agreed with her position, she filed various complaints with three different instances.
Really shocking and way below the belt is the statement made by the CIRC that “that this challenge should come from the only woman of this male-dominated assembly certainly did not make things any easier”.
What in heaven’s name has the “challenge” by Schenk to do with her gender? What have Schenk’s arguments to do with her gender? Or is the CIRC suggesting that the fact of Schenk being a women lies at at the root of all the discord between herself and all other members of the Management Committee? That the other members of the Management Committee were ‘male chauvinist pigs’? That because she was the sole women she must therefore be right and that everyone else was wrong simply because they are men? I am fully convinced that Schenk herself would be insulted on reading this.
I would suggest that Schenk sought controversy and actually liked to be in a “one against all” position. And I am convinced that this would have been no different had there been other women on the Management Committee.
Another difference between Schenk and her colleagues was that Schenk contested in public decisions that had been adopted by the body she was a member of. On this issue, the CIRC remains mute in terms of the principles of good governance – indeed it even seems to approve this practice. In addition, Schenk also made use of the press to publicize her systematic opposition as much as possible.
Furthermore this so-called “male-dominated assembly” had been democratically elected, something that cannot be said of the CIRC. And this “male-dominated assembly” had co-opted Schenk as a member of the Management Committe in 2000. This “male-dominated assembly” had also made her President of the UCI Cyclo-cross Commission.
In the end, though, Schenk succeeded in losing the confidence of every single one of her colleagues on the UCI Management Board.
I have already commented that the CIRC’s notable support for women’s cycling, although commendable in itself, is totally irrelevant for the CIRC’s mission. Perhaps the CIRC seeks to compensate for the fact that it had no woman among its members, and only among its assistants?