Flanders Classics CEO Tomas Van Den Spiegel confirmed that his organisation has requested that Doltcini-Van Eyck-Proximus team manager Marc Bracke not attend its events, which will resume at the Tour of Flanders on Sunday. A decision regarding Bracke's sanctioning has not been reached in an on-going harassment case that is now at the UCI Disciplinary Commission.
"We have requested him not to attend and were surprised to hear of his presence," Van Den Spiegel wrote in an email to Cyclingnews Friday. He also confirmed that race organisers like Flanders Classics don’t have the authority to prohibit Bracke from being at the races while the case is on-going. "But it is true that we do not have the authority for as long as there is no official outcome."
Bracke was listed as the team’s director for Wednesday’s Dwars door Vlaanderen, and it was reported that he attended the event, however, Cyclingnews understand that he was not at the race.
Last October, the UCI Ethics Commission found that Bracke had violated the Code of Ethics following formal complaints of harassment by two female riders, who alleged that he requested images of them in their "panties and bra" and "bikini."
In its official statement, the UCI did not indicate specifically which of its Code of Ethics had been violated but only that violations had occurred regarding the complaints of harassment. Bracke has denied the allegations of harassment that are included in the formal complaint.
Although he has been found to have violated the Code of Ethics in October, the findings of the case are now being reviewed by the UCI Disciplinary Commission, which is the body responsible for determining a sanction. However, Cyclingnews understands that until that decision has been made, Bracke has not been provisionally suspended, and so is permitted to continue to manage and direct Doltcini-Van Eyck-Proximus.
A representative from Doltcini-Van Eyck-Proximus has confirmed to Cyclingnews that Bracke will not attend any of Flanders Classics events until the UCI Disciplinary Commission reach a decision.
The team also confirmed that director Liesbet De Vocht directed the team at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Gent-Wevelgem, and that she will manage and direct the team alongside assistant director Shana Van Glabbeke at the Tour of Flanders on Sunday.
"We’re sending Liesbeth De Vocht as our team manager to the Ronde van Vlaanderen and she will have Shana Van Glabbeke as her assistant," a representative from Doltcini-Van Eyck-Proximus wrote in an email to Cyclingnews. "This does not mean that we agree with Flanders Classics’ request. We just don’t want to spoil one of the most beautiful days of the year in our sport."
Belgian Cycling confirmed to Cyclingnews in January that when Doltcini-Van Eyck-Proximus applied for a 2021 licence, it had asked the UCI if the licence would be approved in light of the on-going case concerning Bracke.
At that time, the UCI confirmed to Belgian Cycling that the team’s licence would be approved because the case was still in progress and no sanction had yet been pronounced by the Disciplinary Commission. However, if the Disciplinary Commission were to impose a sanction, Bracke would then be prohibited from representing the team for the duration of that sanction.
"If Mr. Bracke were to be suspended during the season, he would be prohibited from performing any function for which a license is required, from acting as a representative of the team, or from occupying any role through which he could commit the company that owns the team," the UCI wrote to Belgian Cycling.
Belgian Cycling has also told Cyclingnews on Thursday that it has no authority over the case, or whether Bracke attends events while case is on-going, and that it does not have the authority to impose a provisional suspension while the Disciplinary Commission review the findings and reach a decision.
"The UCI informed us that we have to wait for the decision of the disciplinary commission of the UCI," said Jos Smets, director at Belgian Cycling. "Since the dossier is being handled by the UCI, Belgian Cycling has no authority in this matter and therefore cannot impose a sanction, not even temporarily."
The UCI has not responded to Cyclingnews’ request for comment about why Bracke has not been provisionally suspended while the case is on-going at the Disciplinary Commission before the publication of this story.
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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.
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