The former manager of UCI Women’s Continental Team Health Mate-Cyclelive has been banned from the sport of cycling until the end of next year following allegations of sexual harassment made against him by a number of the team’s riders, with world cycling’s governing body hailing the decision as setting “an important precedent” on the issue.
The ban announced for Patrick Van Gansen this afternoon is partially backdated to 16 April 2020, when the disciplinary proceedings were opened following a report by the UCI’s Ethics Commission and the independent investigation agency Sport Resolutions, and runs until 31 December 2022.
The UCI’s Disciplinary Commission has now found that Van Gansen had indeed committed violations of its Code of Ethics.
Applying the suspension, it said: “As a further measure and condition for the issuance of a new licence after the period of suspension has been served, Mr Van Gansen shall follow a course addressing the matter of workplace sexual harassment to be provided by a recognised professional institute.”
However, Van Gansen said when the proceedings were opened last year that he had no intention of returning to the sport.
In its statement, the UCI said that it “welcomes this decision, which sets an important precedent with respect to sexual harassment.
“It is essential for athletes’ welfare that they trust the institutions and feel free to denounce harassment in all forms.
“The UCI shall endeavour to support all persons wishing to report such actions whether they are victims or witness behaviour which is not compliant with our Federation’s rules of ethics.
“There is still work to be done to fully fulfil our mission,” it added, “but this decision marks a decisive step in the effective protection of athletes, which is an essential mission of our International Federation.”
Announcing the conclusions of the Ethics Committee’s report last April, the UCI said that the investigation “took into account a considerable number of statements and covers several years.”
Among the members of the team to have lodged complaints against Van Gansen was former pro cyclist Tara Gins, who hit the headlines last month after she said a job offer has sports director with a male development team in Belgium had been withdrawn after the team’s management discovered that she had posed for nude photographs.
Gins confirmed that she had posed nude last year for the Dutch language edition of Playboy and topless for a Belgian trade calendar.
“I had a verbal agreement to start working for a team as a sports director this year,” she said. “A men’s team, where I would work with the young athletes and the elites.
“That was something that I was really looking forward to because that is the direction that I want to go in. But apparently, someone has made a problem with a photo of me. I don’t mind now that the job has been cancelled. It’s probably for the best. I don’t want to work with people who don’t see my capabilities and just walk with the herd.”
She said that the photos “don’t harm anyone,” but seemed to have been deemed “too inappropriate” for her to work alongside riders, adding that, “apparently a photo is more important than capabilities or experience.”