Despite having presided over one of the bleakest chapters in the history of any Olympic sport, there remains a chance that the Irishman may thwart Brian Cookson, his only rival for the job. The election will take place at the UCI congress in Florence, on September 27, during the UCI Road World Championships.
I hope McQuaid's power-crazed attempt to cling to office fails, otherwise he will become the sporting equivalent of Robert Mugabe.
It was less a change of personnel when McQuaid succeeded Hein Verbruggen in 2005, more a seemless transfer of administration and ethos. He is Verbruggen's man and their joint regime has been characterised by weak governance, lack of transparency, and pathetic leadership. Not to mention allegations of corruption and the darkest doping chapter in the sport's history.
Verbruggen, a Dutch Olympic delegate, is famed for having said: "Lance Armstrong has never used doping. Never, never, never. I say this not because I am a friend of his . . . I say it because I'm sure." McQuaid called two riders who tried to out the cheating Texan: "scumbags".
An overdue change is offered by the candidacy of Brian Cookson, president of the British Cycling Federation since 1996. During that time Britain has won 19 Olympic gold medals, 28 Paralympic medals, and two Tour de France victories.
Cookson, who has an OBE for services to cycling, is 61. He was a UCI international commissaire for 23 years, until 2009, and is on the UCI management board. He could have been forgiven for riding off into the sunset for a quiet life, but that is not his way. If successful, he promises: "a fully independent investigation into the allegations of corruption . . . which have so damaged the UCI's reputation." We look forward to that. Illumination is overdue.
McQuaid looks increasingly desperate. Irish cycling withdrew their support for his candidacy. He claims his countrymen no longer know him because he is now resident in Switzerland near the UCI headquarters at Aigle. When Ireland binned him, he joined the Swiss federation, and within 24 hours had their nomination. But the Swiss soon withdrew their support. No matter. Embracing the morality of a banana-republic dictator, he believes he can change the UCI constitution retroactively. The Thai and Moroccan federations have supported him, even though nominations had closed almost a month earlier. This is sure to trigger litigation.
"British Cycling, along with a lot of other federations, have raised written concerns to the UCI about what's been happening," Cookson told Herald Sport last night. "Ours wasn't primarily about his nominations, it was about due process and the fact that without discussing anything at board level, UCI staff took it upon themselves to generate a retrospective rule change that could only benefit Mr McQuaid.
"Our worry is much broader than his nominations; it's about ensuring that there is a fair election that follows the rules. The leadership sets the tone for the entire sport and this latest series of twists, turns, and manipulation is just the latest symptom of the dysfunctional way in which the UCI has settled into conducting its business."
McQuaid is a master of poking spokes in wheels. The election machinery is complex and as opaque as his tenure in office. There are 42 delegates who can vote, assembled by continent, but the identities of many of them, especially those from Africa and Asia, remain unknown. McQuaid has focused on growing the sport there. If he commands Asia and Africa, he needs just six votes from Oceania, Europe and Pan-America.
There are allegations - never adequately refuted - that the new Swiss HQ was funded with a backhander from Japan, for including the keirin in the Olympic programme. Nor has there ever been an acceptable explanation for a $100,000 "donation" to the UCI from Armstrong.
McQuaid counters that his rival, "may be a pawn in a larger game" orchestrated by Igor Makarov, the billionaire president of the Russian Cycling Federation and owner of the Katusha road team. And attempting to deflect criticism, McQuaid says that since he took over in 2005, the UCI anti-doping budget has risen from $1.75m to $7.5m; and that the introduction of biological passports have made the peloton cleaner - that "it is now possible to race and win clean".
He will point to the fact that during his presidency Armstrong has been outed. Yet he has done nothing since. His failure to investigate the US Anti-doping Agency report on Armstrong prompted the following yesterday from Cookson: "The pace of decisions being made is one of the reasons which persuaded me to stand for the presidency - change just isn't happening quickly enough.
"I'm sure people will be asking who Pat is protecting, but in the meantime the UCI did manage to blow 2.5million Swiss francs on an independent commission which never met."
Cookson wants "everything out into the open, so that the sport can understand its mistakes, learn, and restore its credibility". So do we, but it won't happen on McQuaid's watch.