Michael Albasini insists he’s not racist, apologises to Europcar’s Kévin Réza

Orica-GreenEdge rider admits getting angry during Tuesday’s break, but denies racial abuse

by Simon_MacMichael   July 24, 2014  

Kevin Reza (licensed CC-BY-SA 2.0 by MI Cla on Flickr) v2

Orica-GreenEdge’s Michael Albasini insists he did not make racist comments to Europcar rider Kévin Réza during Tuesday’s Stage 16 of the Tour de France. Europcar manager Jean-René Bernaudeau said after the stage, when both men were involved in the break, that Albasini had called Réza a “dirty negro.”

Albasini admitted that he had exchanged words with the Europcar rider, born in Paris to parents from Guadeloupe, but denied that he had abused Réza because of his race, reports SBS.

The Swiss rider, who had been unhappy with the lack of work the Frenchman was putting in on behalf of the escapees, said: “I wasn’t happy, and I was angry. I said to him some words that maybe I shouldn’t have, but none of them were racist.

“He came up and asked what I said. I said it again, I didn’t choose nice words, but that’s how it is when you are on your limit, but there were definitely no racist comments.

“I told him, how nice it was to have one guy on your wheel when you are going full gas, so I don’t understand how it came out that I was saying something racist.”

With the issue coming to the attention of race organisers ASO, the riders’ teams were encouraged to set up a meeting between the pair before the start of yesterday’s stage 17.

“I’m happy I could see him this morning to say my version,” said Albasini after the stage.

“I hope that he understood that there wasn’t anything racist. I was just angry with the situation. We had a good discussion and a handshake, all the stories are now clear.

“You know there are many languages spoken in the bunch, I don’t speak English perfectly, I speak a little bit of French, not perfectly. He doesn’t speak my languages. That can happen, a misunderstanding.”

Bernaudeau meanwhile has made it clear he will not comment further on the episode, telling journalists: “Before you ask a question, the case is closed. They met, they have had an explanation. Case is closed.

“I can’t stand racism. The case is closed. I was a strategic problem. Kevin had no authorisation to pull in the breakaway, they talked and said things they shouldn’t. The case is totally closed.”

Orica-GreenEdge general manager Shayne Bannan said: “We term it [racism] as putting the sport, or the team into disrepute. So putting it at that level, if in fact there was that type of scenario, then we would seriously look at it.”

30 user comments

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The Suarez Defence

posted by Some Fella [786 posts]
24th July 2014 - 11:39

52 Likes

We'll have none of this nonsense, thanks.

I'm glad Réza and his management consider the incident closed, but a half-apology in which the offender claims that calling someone "dirty negro" isn't really racist is pretty disappointing. .

posted by BigDummy [295 posts]
24th July 2014 - 11:46

52 Likes

Quote:
The Suarez Defence

Exactly. Not a nice thing to see.

posted by BigDummy [295 posts]
24th July 2014 - 11:47

43 Likes

A sad side show to the Tour this.

jimmythecuckoo's picture

posted by jimmythecuckoo [1271 posts]
24th July 2014 - 12:02

44 Likes

who knows, One is French the other Italian Swiss? things that get said aren't always what is heard. Really depends on how good your command of a language is.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1177 posts]
24th July 2014 - 13:33

42 Likes

BigDummy wrote:
We'll have none of this nonsense, thanks.

I'm glad Réza and his management consider the incident closed, but a half-apology in which the offender claims that calling someone "dirty negro" isn't really racist is pretty disappointing. .

So despite all parties being happy and closing the matter, you're going to assume he is a racist and treat him as such?

Violence is not the answer, but it will do until we find out what is.

posted by TheHound [58 posts]
24th July 2014 - 13:50

50 Likes

None of this comes as a suprise,professional cycling is clearly institutionally racist
Why are there so few black or non white riders in any of the teams? doesnt it strike you as odd that in the decades of racing we have very rarely seen any riders from an 'ethnic' background

why is that? are they not good enough? or is there something more sinister at work?

i think this repellent scumbag comment from albasini is the tip of the iceberg but is most probably a widespread view and policy amongst the stinking professional cycling fraternity that they dont want 'dirty negros' in their pure aryan sport

posted by Rich71 [29 posts]
24th July 2014 - 14:02

29 Likes

Quote:
So despite all parties being happy and closing the matter, you're going to assume he is a racist and treat him as such?

I am glad that they have closed the matter and are happy.

However, calling someone a "dirty negro", regardless of circumstances, mood and (to a pretty large extent) language differences, sounds pretty racist, especially in a sport where the last black rider most people can name was Major Taylor. It doesn't much matter whether Albasini "is" a racist, the alleged remark is racist. They've managed to close it in such a way that looks as though it's been accepted that that sort of abuse is all fair play when people are tired and angry.

Given all that, I'd be more comfortable with an apology along the lines of "I realise that what I said was a racist insult. I am sorry for it and I understand that it was completely unacceptable. It will not happen again. I am very grateful to Kévin for his graciousness in accepting my apology".

We've all got better things to worry about, and it's marvellous that we don't see much in the way of this kind of thing in the sport. Seeing absolutely none would be preferable.

posted by BigDummy [295 posts]
24th July 2014 - 14:18

41 Likes

BigDummy wrote:
the alleged remark is racist.

The alleged remark is indeed racist but my reading of this article led me to the conclusion that Albasini denies making that remark.

posted by adscrim [109 posts]
24th July 2014 - 14:36

33 Likes

Hmmmm. When I first read it, I thought it said he had said it but didn't mean it in a racist manner, I'm now not sure.

In that case his defence would be a lot more plausible if he had explained what he DID say that sounded the same but was in no way racist. Especially as he says he said whatever it was twice.

I'm reminded of that remark by Sepp Blatter about racism in football not really being racism because everyone shakes hands afterwards.

Anyway, they're happy.

posted by BigDummy [295 posts]
24th July 2014 - 14:51

27 Likes

.

posted by BigDummy [295 posts]
24th July 2014 - 14:53

22 Likes

Rich71 wrote:
None of this comes as a suprise,professional cycling is clearly institutionally racist
Why are there so few black or non white riders in any of the teams? doesnt it strike you as odd that in the decades of racing we have very rarely seen any riders from an 'ethnic' background

why is that? are they not good enough? or is there something more sinister at work?

i think this repellent scumbag comment from albasini is the tip of the iceberg but is most probably a widespread view and policy amongst the stinking professional cycling fraternity that they dont want 'dirty negros' in their pure aryan sport

When I was a kid, I had a BC-affiliated coach. He told me, in all seriousness, that black people couldn't focus for long enough. This was evidenced, in his view, by the domination of olympic sprint running events by the likes of Carl Lewis and Linford Christie, contrasted with Steve Cram and Seb Coe for longer events. (Haile Gabrselassie had yet to decimate entire fields of runners and thus his theory). Other riders who heard this just rolled their eyes with a knowing smile, and advised me to just accept that he was an old guy and very set in his ways.

With regards to the peloton though, it's not just in the pro ranks (who's in the TdF - 1 Korean, 1 Chinese and 1 black guy from France?). How many non-white riders are there in your local club? Not many, I'll bet. (Ironically, I'm part-chinese, but most people don't notice, so perhaps I'm perceived as white) I've been hoping to see riders emerge from Eritrea, apparently the place is dirt poor but full of road bikes, and they are fanatical about road racing.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3310 posts]
24th July 2014 - 14:58

29 Likes

Albasini denies making the remark at all and is claiming that Réza misheard him due to them not speaking the same language.

As to racism being institutionalised, cycling is generally an expensive sport. How many kids in Kenya will spend the 50p a week they earn collecting plastic bottles on some nice titanium bolts rather than some food?

Violence is not the answer, but it will do until we find out what is.

posted by TheHound [58 posts]
24th July 2014 - 14:58

34 Likes

Wow ... that's a big statement. You've taken an extraordinarily complex socio-economic situation and really come to the only possible explanation. Your logic would also conclude that crown green bowls must be age-ist because so few young people play or that netball must be sexist because so few men play or indeed that Homer Simpson's Bear Tax was successful because there were no bears in Springfield. You must also conclude that athletics sprint events are racist too. How about swimming?

Perhaps you could entertain the thought that there may well be a wider explanation.

I should point out, before you accuse me of being racist, that I am married to a non-white person and I will not tell you about me and you can see whether you jump to conclusions on either my colour or gender.

Lack of early age opportunities through lack of funds or facilities (caused by wider socio-economic problems - not a cycling specific issue); lack of role models; greater attraction to other sports; view of cycling as a drug-fuelled sport; in some cultures the aspirational desire to show wealth and success with cycling being viewed as the transport of the poor; media coverage only rising (in the UK) in the last few years on the back of British success; cycling simply being viewed as uncool. These are just a tiny few of the issues that could have an impact on the result you have highlighted albeit with your specious logic.

I certainly hope that Chris Froome's highlighting of his background in Kenya, greater media coverage etc would have the effect of encouraging talented young riders of all colours and communities and to encourage non-talented riders too.

Perhaps cycling IS institutionally racist but the lack of non-whites at the top level is not necessarily proof, despite your inflammatory comments.

In the same way that a third party reporting an exchange between two riders out on the road and out of breath that alleges racism is not proof of an individual being a 'repellent scumbag'. If he is a racist I hope he gets strung up by his nethers but his response as reported does not confirm that he said the alleged words and doesn't confirm that he thinks that such a statement if said is not racist. You have made a gigantic leap to that conclusion.

I'm not sure that his sponsors, team managers etc would have been chuffed if he had replied "no, I didn't say anything racist. I actually called him a fxxxing wxxxer" but perhaps you would have been more satisfied.

posted by Stinkers [9 posts]
24th July 2014 - 15:52

40 Likes

Stinkers, if you're replying to me I think you've completely missed the point of what I was saying.

Violence is not the answer, but it will do until we find out what is.

posted by TheHound [58 posts]
24th July 2014 - 16:19

26 Likes

No, Hound. I think you are making valid points. I was trying to respond to Rich71, but my technical abilities failed me.

Perhaps Rich71 can make a clear and logical conclusion based on this fact alone as to my age, gender, colour and favourite ice cream preference.

posted by Stinkers [9 posts]
24th July 2014 - 17:06

25 Likes

'I should point out, before you accuse me of being racist, that I am married to a non-white person and I will not tell you about me and you can see whether you jump to conclusions on either my colour or gender.'

Good one,im not racist..but,yeah yeah,some of my best friends are black,im married to a no white person blah blah..

From your half arsed justification and rambling incoherent ideas as to why so few non whites are involved in cycling i can confidently assume you are
1 46 years old
2male
3white
4 and you enjoy Raspberry ripple ice cream although you do enjoy abit of chocolate with your non white wife

posted by Rich71 [29 posts]
24th July 2014 - 18:24

29 Likes

And the armchair United Nations is gently steaming in the heat.

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1070 posts]
24th July 2014 - 20:40

18 Likes

notfastenough wrote:
who's in the TdF - 1 Korean, 1 Chinese and 1 black guy from France?
No Koreans but the Japanese guy, Yukiya Arashiro, and Guadeloupe-born Yohann Gène, who is mixed-race, are also members of Team Europcar. Which means that one team has 75% of the non-white riders in the tour.

posted by bobisallright [2 posts]
25th July 2014 - 0:11

29 Likes

Rich71, 1 out of 4, but then you shouldn't let that stand in the way of your confident assumptions. After all you can't reason someone out of a position that they haven't reasoned themselves into.

As to your banal dismissal of my 'rambling incoherent ideas' I shall simplify for you, though I shall still have to use words rather than pictures on this forum.

1. You seem to have no understanding of the concept of causality;
2. If there is racism, I hope it is stamped out; and
2. Let's hope that we see a more mixed and representative peleton in future.

I must say that I am fascinated by your trying to imply that somehow my spouse (you confidently assume wife) being non-white (and your confident assumption that I am white) means that I AM racist. Sounds a bit Sixth Sense - "I see racist people ... ALL THE TIME."

posted by Stinkers [9 posts]
25th July 2014 - 9:33

21 Likes

Indeed, it's pretty much impossible to reason with people who are dead set on using racism as an explanation for everything. Everything is an example of racism. Few black cyclists: racism. Few white baseball players in the NBA: racism. You are white and have an opinion: clear racist. It rains: racism. etc.

Sad, really.

posted by Aapje [184 posts]
25th July 2014 - 11:36

3 Likes

Rich71 wrote:
None of this comes as a suprise,professional cycling is clearly institutionally racist
Why are there so few black or non white riders in any of the teams? doesnt it strike you as odd that in the decades of racing we have very rarely seen any riders from an 'ethnic' background

why is that? are they not good enough? or is there something more sinister at work?

i think this repellent scumbag comment from albasini is the tip of the iceberg but is most probably a widespread view and policy amongst the stinking professional cycling fraternity that they dont want 'dirty negros' in their pure aryan sport

And anti white ranting is not racist is it?

At Wits End

posted by Yorkshie Whippet [296 posts]
25th July 2014 - 12:56

16 Likes

I was going to nip out for lunch but I simply cannot move for all the oppression of white males that is happening.

posted by farrell [1512 posts]
25th July 2014 - 13:02

26 Likes

Another typical moronic comment, ignoring the fact that no one claimed that white males were being oppressed.

But no need for facts when you can kneejerk.

posted by Aapje [184 posts]
25th July 2014 - 13:15

16 Likes

Stop crying Honky.

posted by farrell [1512 posts]
25th July 2014 - 13:18

6 Likes

Racist troll.

posted by Aapje [184 posts]
25th July 2014 - 14:06

7 Likes

As someone who has a goatee beard, I find the term Troll highly offensive to my people.

posted by farrell [1512 posts]
25th July 2014 - 15:28

13 Likes

bobisallright wrote:
notfastenough wrote:
who's in the TdF - 1 Korean, 1 Chinese and 1 black guy from France?
No Koreans but the Japanese guy, Yukiya Arashiro, and Guadeloupe-born Yohann Gène, who is mixed-race, are also members of Team Europcar. Which means that one team has 75% of the non-white riders in the tour.

Well no-one can accuse Bernadeau of not putting his money where his mouth is, can he?! Big Grin

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3310 posts]
25th July 2014 - 16:00

11 Likes

Rich71 wrote:
Haile Gabrselassie had yet to decimate entire fields of runners and thus his theory

The pedant in me wishes to point out that "decimate" means "to reduce in strength by one tenth". H.G. could have achieved this against a field of runners by coming near to the tail end of the field, at the very front of the last ten percent of the participants.

If you enjoy words meaning "to defeat completely" and which are spelled "de---ate", I rather fancy that he actually devastated entire fields of runners, rather than decimating them.

Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

posted by severs1966 [86 posts]
26th July 2014 - 13:18

6 Likes

Stinkers wrote:

2. Let's hope that we see a more mixed and representative peleton in future

Representative of what ? And why should professional cycling represent the demographics of the real world ?

posted by dreamlx10 [138 posts]
26th July 2014 - 14:13

6 Likes