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Governing body responds to article alleging widespread abuse of female pro cyclists

British Cycling is urging victims of sexual abuse within the sport to come forward under its safeguarding programme.

The national governing body says it is “extremely concerned” over allegations made in an article in the latest issue of Rouleur entitled Cycling’s #MeToo Moment regarding sexual harassment within women’s professional cycling. The magazine has published an extract online here.

Researched and written by Eurosport cycling host Orla Chennaoui, detailed instances of inappropriate behaviour as well as sexual assault, primarily at the second tier of the sport but also at Women’s WorldTour level.

“This report is an extremely concerning one – to us and to anyone who loves our sport,” British Cycling told the Independent in a statement.

“As the national governing body for cycling in Great Britain, we know that we must lead by example to serve the sport and work hard to represent cyclists’ interests at all levels.

“All athletes deserve our best support and resources, which is why we have increased the size of the British Cycling compliance team and introduced more specialised staff. These newer roles include a Lead Safeguarding Officer.

“From carrying out an audit of our club network to ensure compliance with our policies and procedures – including a new safeguarding policy – to streamlining enhanced DBS checks to ensure we are able to assess bigger volumes more efficiently, these extra measures are designed to make cycling a safer place for vulnerable athletes.”

The organisation added: “If anyone has been subject to this kind of behaviour, or is worried about another person’s behaviour, we would encourage them to get in touch with British Cycling’s safeguarding team, the contact details for which are on the British Cycling website under Contact Us.”

In the Rouleur article, the Dutch former professional cyclist Iris Slappendel, who among other things now jointly runs The Cyclists’ Alliance which represents female riders, said: “The bad culture of the sport is that we pretend this is not part of it, or we have the opinion that you have to toughen up or not take it personally.

“That’s pretty shocking to me. I think a lot of riders have had some kind of uncomfortable experience. I guess that, like with the Me Too thing, it’s maybe something every woman has experienced.”

The Independent said that the UCI had not commented on the allegations made in the Rouleur report, but is investigating Patrick Van Gansen, manager of the second-tier Health Mate-Cyclelive Team, regarding a number of complaints. The newspaper added that he denies those allegations.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.