Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio has responded to the accusations laid out against Cervelo-Bigla owner Thomas Campana, who is alleged to have bullied and abused riders on the team.The accusations were detailed in a damning article published by the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant on Thursday.
Moolman-Pasio told Cyclingnews that she often felt like a "stabilizer" between Campana and the riders during tense situations. She said she didn't want to be involved in "this escapade to shame Thomas."
The South African all-rounder has been a staple on the team for the last four seasons, and was aware of the accusations put forth by former riders Iris Slappendel, Carmen Small, Vera Koedooder and Doris Schweizer, who claimed there was a tense atmosphere within the team where riders would often walk on eggshells to avoid Campana’s anger.
"I’ve been aware that Iris and Carmen have been pushing for it to be released for the past few years now," Moolman-Pasio told Cyclingnews.
Moolman-Pasio told Cyclingnews that during her time at Cervelo-Bigla, she and Campana had their differences, but that they always managed to work out their problems together. When it came to Campana's working-relationships with the other riders, she said she felt like a mediator, at times, when there were problems.
"I do feel that I played a stabilising role within the team and I’ve often been the one to resolve problems between Thomas and riders," Moolman-Pasio said.
The long-list of allegations against Campana include bulling, fat shaming and intimidating riders. He is also accused of insulting riders in front of other team members, pulling riders from races if he didn't like something they had done, ignoring medical concerns such as a concussion and an episode of heart palpitations, trying to control riders' diets and not paying prize money.
The incidents detailed in the de Volkskrant article took place, predominantly, during the 2015 season when the team brought on a large number of new riders.
In a brief interview with Cyclingnews, Campana denied all the allegations saying: "What has been written is definitely not our side." He also said there was more to the story, and documentation to back his claims, but would not comment further.
In 2016, 10 riders and staff members of Cervelo-Bigla, including Slappendel and Small, reportedly took their complaints about Campana to the Ethics Commitee, but half withdrew when they found out that their names would be public knowledge to Campana.
In addition, the events in the indictment happened under the older code of ethics, in which team managers were not part of. Because of this, Campana could not be held liable.
Moolman-Pasio joined Cervelo-Bigla in the 2015 season and raced with the team for four years, through the end of 2018. In her first season, she and her family used their own money to financially back the team when it could not find a second sponsor.
She said it was an act of good will to help stop the team from folding.
"It is true that my family and I saved the team in 2015 when it did not manage to attract a second title sponsorship," Moolman-Pasio told Cyclingnews.
"This was an act of good will to save riders and staff from losing their jobs mid-season … we did not get a stake in the team as a result of our investment.”
Moolman-Pasio wanted to make it clear that she has good memories of being on the team and with her former teammates, where she took many development steps in her career, even despite the accusations made against Campana. She is focused on joining her new team CCC Women alongside Marianne Vos in 2019.
"I’m grateful for the development I experienced in the team, and I can honestly say that I learnt a lot and became a stronger person through my years with the team. I'm looking forward to joining my new team and I don't really want to be involved in this escapade to shame Thomas."