USA Cycling announced on Friday that it has hired Kelsey Erickson to oversee the organization's SafeSport program. Erickson's main role will be to monitor, enforce and refine the program while also providing resources to athletes and members seeking education, services and advice to address possible violations of policies and Code of Conduct.
In addition, she will oversee USA Cycling's anti-doping efforts, including the RaceClean Program.
"USA Cycling is happy to announce the appointment of Kelsey Erickson as SafeSport Director. Kelsey will be responsible for strengthening the USA Cycling culture that supports a safe and respectful cycling environment," said Rob DeMartini, President and CEO of USA Cycling.
Erickson joins USA Cycling after nearly a decade of work in international anti-doping. As a student and professional at Leeds Beckett University (UK), Erickson led and supported multiple global anti-doping research projects, receiving funding from such organizations as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Athletics Foundation (IAF).
Her research focused primarily on developing evidence-based anti-doping education interventions and whistleblowing policies and procedures; a combination that will serve her in her new role at USA Cycling.
"I am grateful and excited for the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. My goal is to ensure that every individual who engages with USA Cycling – regardless of their title or role – has the most positive experience possible," Erickson said. "Creating a culture where speaking up and reporting suspected misconduct becomes the expectation rather than the exception is a critical part of this. We all have a role to play in keeping cycling safe and I am excited and honored to be able to play a role in facilitating these efforts."
USA Cycling's announcement comes after Cyclingnews reported that three riders; Esther Miesels, Sara Mustonen and the father of Chloë Turblin, separately, filed abuse complaints with the UCI Ethics Commission against Health Mate Ladies team manager Patrick Van Gansen. Their complaints centre around the UCI Code of Ethics: Appendix 1, which covers protection of physical and mental integrity, sexual harassment and abuse.
Six more riders have come forward to corroborate those allegations in the Dutch news outlets WielerFlits and Het Nieuwsbald. All riders have alleged that Van Gansen was verbally aggressive and made sexually inappropriate remarks toward them.
Van Gansen has rejected all allegations of abuse and inappropriate behaviour and has indicated that he intends to take legal action to clear his name in a full statement published on the Health Mate Ladies Team website.
Cyclingnews spoke with head of The Cyclists' Alliance Iris Slappendel, who urged cyclists to file formal complaints with the UCI Ethics Commission and SafeSport programs if they find themselves in situations of abuse on a cycling team or witness abuse within the sport.
Cyclingnews published the UCI Ethics Commission's point of contact [firstname.lastname@example.org] and protocol for filing a formal complaint. Cyclists are encouraged to file complaints with the UCI Ethics Commission but there are other pathways such as filing complaints with national federation, SafeSport programs and local authorities.
The Government of Canada recently launched two initiatives under SafeSport for All: A third-party investigation unit set up through the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC), and a national toll-free, confidential helpline for victims and witnesses of abuse in sport: 1-888-83-SPORT (77678) and by email at email@example.com, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET, seven days a week. For more information, visit www.abuse-free-sport.ca.
There are other nations with support services such as Play By The Rules in Australia and Vertrouwenspunt Sport in the Netherlands. The US Center for SafeSport is committed to ending abuse in sport by addressing bullying, harassment, hazing, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual misconduct and abuse.
USA Cycling will soon be providing a Safe Sport handbook link on its website, but currently offers a place to file a reports on sexual misconduct, other misconduct, along with training, back ground checks and FAQ.