The UCI has confirmed to Cyclingnews that it is investigating a case of racist abuse at the Tour of Romandie after Team Sky's Gianni Moscon made comments to FDJ rider Kevin Reza at the end of stage 3.
Reza and Moscon were captured on video having a heated discussion beyond the finish line, and it later emerged, and was confirmed by Team Sky, that Moscon had used racially offensive language. The Italian later apologised and, along with Team Sky directeur sportif, Nicolas Portal, visited Reza and FDJ.
Reza accepted the gesture and would not comment when asked to at the start of stage 4. FDJ confirmed that Reza had accepted Moscon's apology and that they backed their rider's wishes in drawing a line under the matter.
In an email to Cyclingnews the UCI confirmed that they were investigating the matter. The governing body then sent the following statement in a second email: "The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) expects everyone in its sport to respect the highest standards of ethics and conduct. Racial abuse has no place in cycling or any other sport and any such complaint will be investigated and sanctioned if substantiated."
Team Sky decided against removing Moscon from the race, instead telling Cyclingnews that the rider would be dealt with internally after the race.
"This is something we're going to take seriously after the race," Portal told Cyclingnews at the start of stage 4.
"In this sport we have all generations of bike riders and some really young bike riders. It's our job to teach them the right way. We've seen really bad behaviour in other sports, and this is really bad. We explained this to Gianni and he understood."
Under UCI rules Moscon could be banned for up to six months. Section 12.1.005 of the governing body's regulations state:
"Anyone subject to UCI Regulations shall be suspended for a minimum of one and a maximum of six months, who:
1. behaves in a violent manner or uses defamatory or abusive language to or about a commissaire, a UCI body or its members or, in general, anyone performing a function provided for in the UCI Constitution or Regulations, or
2. behaves in such a way as to blemish the image, the reputation or the interests of cycling."
The UCI chose not to issue any form of punishment in July 2015 when Natnael Berhane was racially abused by Branislau Samoilau during a stage of the Tour of Austria. Similarly to the Reza case, an apology and agreement were made between the riders and their teams, and that was deemed sufficient.
"Everyone agreed that it was unacceptable and the rider apologized and offered to donate one month's salary to team MTN-Qhubeka's foundation. All parties were satisfied with the outcome," said a UCI spokesperson at the time.