Grégory Baugé on racism in pro cycling: You suffer alone

France’s Gregory Bauge world title in the men's sprint
France’s Gregory Bauge world title in the men's sprint (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

French track sprinter and Olympic medallist Grégory Baugé spoke out about racism in professional cycling in the wake of mass protests across the world following the death of George Floyd. 

Baugé said although he hasn't personally experienced outright racism at the highest level of cycling, racial discrimination is a part of black cyclists' everyday lives.

"In all walks of life you know it exists, and in cycling, yes, I've had to deal with it. It shouldn't be normal, but... When are we going to get out of this? I don't know," Baugé said to Cyclism'actu.

The protests in the United States and other cities around the world erupted after the death of George Floyd, who was accused by a store owner of passing a counterfeit bill. The Minnesota attorney general announced Wednesday that Derek Chauvin, the officer who calmly knelt on Floyd's neck for over eight minutes until he died, would be charged with second degree murder.

"Right now, it's been about a week since George Floyd's death. It's one more, one too many, and I don't feel like it's changing. I try to stay positive, and you have to be positive, but it hurts a lot," Baugé said.

"Racism has always been a part of our lives, it has always been a part of our lives. We learn to live with it, even though of course it's regrettable, it's unfortunate."

"Since I've been involved in cycling at the highest level, I have not necessarily felt the effects of racism. Although, I know that Kévin Reza experienced some difficult first years with acts of racism, and he was not properly supported."

Reza turned professional with Team Europcar in 2011 and in his second Tour de France in 2014, he was the subject of abuse from then-Orica-GreenEdge rider Michael Albasini for not working in the breakaway. Albasini later apologized and denied his remarks were racist, that his statements were misunderstood in the language barrier.

In 2017, Reza's teammate Sebastian Reichenbach called Gianni Moscon out on Twitter for hurling racial epithets at Reza during Tour de Romandie. Team Sky suspended Moscon but has kept him on the team.

Baugé explained that black athletes often suffer in silence, unable to speak out for fear they won't be backed up by those in power.

"We suffer, and we are all alone," he said. "We see it in football, and they say they are against racism, but in fact they do nothing at all. The authorities don't see it as a problem, and as soon as it does not bring in more money, it does not interest them."

Baugé said he can understand why protests have turned violent.

"I can understand the violence that followed the death of George Floyd. It shouldn't exist, but I can understand it, because there's a lot of frustration, and it really feels like there's nobody to plead our case."

Further information

Where to donate

These funds are set up to help protesters, the families of victims, and black businesses and charities around the United States and internationally. If you're able, consider setting up a recurring donation to one of the organizations below, to help provide sustained support beyond this moment.

Campaign Zero - Launched by Black Lives Matter activists, Campaign Zero is a national organization that works with law-makers at every level to end police brutality and systemic racism through thoroughly researched policy solutions.

Reclaim the Block - Founded in 2015, this group organizes the local Minneapolis community and city council to redirect funding away from the police department and into other initiatives that promote health and safety.

Black Lives Matter resources - The Black Lives Matter website linked here includes a comprehensive list of places to donate: To victims, protesters, black businesses, legal defense funds, and small and large fundraisers supporting black communities and the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Marshall Project - Nonprofit journalism "that seeks to create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system."

NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund - This is one of America's biggest legal organizations fighting for racial justice. Much of their efforts are focused on litigation, education, and advocacy.

Bail funds - An organized list of places to donate if you wish to contribute to bail funds going to arrested protesters in Minneapolis, Atlanta, New York, and many other cities. ActBlue will allow you to easily split a donation to many funds, but keep in mind the organization takes its own transaction fee.

Coming to terms with the events of this past week isn't easy. The violence and anger is, at times, almost incomprehensible. As we all struggle to cope and understand how we can make a difference, we've found some videos, books, and articles to be helpful. We've sought to include a mix of educational materials that provide context and expand understanding.

7 Virtual Mental Health Resources Supporting Black People Right Now -  For readers who need emotional support, writer Jesse Sparks has compiled a list of virtual mental health resources serving the black community. Also see Black Girls Smile's list of resources.

Bad Form Review's reading list - Books on systemic racism in America, the Black Lives Matter movement, social justice, and more, with links to independent bookstores. 

For our white friends desiring to be allies - Courtney Ariel's article is a great outline for white people who want to help lift up others without inadvertently making the conversation about them.

Anti-Racism Resources for White People - An exhaustive list of anti-racism media including movies to watch, essays to read, and people to follow to further educate yourself.

The Case for Reparations - A deeply reported article by Ta-Nehisi Coates that uses personal stories to explain the damage caused by centuries of racist government policy.

What does the demand to "defund police" mean? What about "prison abolition?" You probably won't hear mainstream politicians discussing these ideas, but you may see them on protest signs. If these demands are new to you, abolitionist @jaybeware briefly explains them in a Twitter thread which provides links to books and essays that expand on the topics. Also see the book 'Are Prisons Obsolete?' by Angela Davis.

If you plan to join a physical protest, here are some useful links to make sure you have everything you need to stay safe.

What to bring to a peaceful protest - Vice's guide on what to take with you to a protest.

Protect your protest - An in-depth plan for keeping yourself and others safe during a protest.

How to Cop-Proof Your Phone Before Heading to a Protest - Gizmodo's how-to on protecting your phone data.

ACLU Know your rights - Everything you need to know about your rights as a protestor and what to do if you're detained by the police. 

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