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Patrick Van Gansen found guilty of ethics violations in Health Mate abuse case

Health Mate Ladies Team (UCI Women's Team)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The UCI announced Monday that the UCI Ethics Commission has found Health Mate-Cyclelive team manager Patrick Van Gansen guilty of violations of its Code of Ethics in the multiple-complaint abuse case that began over a year ago. The sport’s governing body has based its decision on the complete investigation by the external agency Sport Resolutions. It confirmed to Cyclingnews that Van Gansen has been notified of its decision and that any sanctions will be handled by the Disciplinary Commission.

"The UCI announces that the UCI Ethics Commission has completed its report in the case involving Mr Patrick Van Gansen (former manager of the UCI Women’s Team Health Mate - Ladies Team) related to allegations by a number of riders of harassment," read the UCI statement.

"Following completion of the report – which took into account a considerable number of statements and covers several years – by independent investigation agency The Sport Resolutions, the UCI Ethics Commission reached the finding that violations of the UCI Code of Ethics had been committed. 

"Considering the sanctions recommended by the UCI Ethics Commission, the matter has been handed over to the UCI Disciplinary Commission, which has initiated proceedings with a view to the possibility of sanctions being imposed. In view of the ongoing status of the proceedings, the UCI shall not make any further comment for the time being."

Cyclingnews requested a comment from Van Gansen regarding the UCI Ethics Commission's decision on Monday. "We have no comment on this. The case is still ongoing and it is a confidential matter," he wrote in an email to Cyclingnews.

Cyclingnews first reported in June of 2019 that Health Mate-Cyclelive riders - Esther Meisels, Sara Mustonen and the father of Chloë Turblin - separately filed complaints with the UCI Ethics Commission, reporting abuses by Van Gansen. Their complaints centered around the UCI Code of Ethics: Appendix 1, which covers protection of physical and mental integrity, sexual harassment and abuse. 

In the wake of those reports, six more riders came forward to corroborate the allegations; Tara Gins and four riders who wished to remain anonymous wrote an open letter describing their experiences to the Dutch news outlet WielerFlits. In addition, former cyclist Liz Hatch confirmed similar experiences while racing on a team he sponsored in 2013 in an interview with Het Nieuwsblad.

A 10th rider, who wished to remain anonymous, wrote a letter to Cyclingnews that detailed an unsettling environment during her time on the team this year. 

The UCI announced at the end of June that its Ethics Commission had begun a formal investigation into the complaints of abuse filed against Van Gansen. In December, however, the UCI told Cyclingnews that it hired an external agency, UK-based Sport Resolutions, to investigate the series of abuse complaints due to the case’s high demands that included the seriousness of the accusations, the complaints that spanned several years, and because there were a large number of people involved.  

The UCI Ethics Commission delayed announcing its decision in February, however, after new allegations from an 11th rider from the team surfaced. The rider, who wished to remain anonymous, told Cyclingnews that she filed the fourth formal complaint with the UCI Ethics Commission in February. 

She told Cyclingnews that she also gave testimony to the Sport Resolutions as part of its investigation. Her complaints included alleged violence and inappropriate behaviour, and she claimed to have witnessed inappropriate behaviour toward her former teammate Meisels, who was one of three women to have filed similar complaints in May 2019. 

The Sport Resolutions team investigated the fourth formal complaint over the last two months before providing the UCI Ethics Commission with its findings. 

The UCI Ethics Commission, as announced Monday, has decided that Van Gansen has violated the Code of Ethics, has recommended sanctioning, and has transferred the case file over to its Disciplinary Commission to initiate proceedings with a view to the possibility of sanctions being imposed.

Van Gansen had denied all allegations of abuse, inappropriate behaviour and violence, and claimed conspiracy among the riders who filed formal complaints. He had expressed his intent to take legal action against all those involved in the case against him. 

Cyclingnews understands that Van Gansen is not registered as a staff member of a UCI team for 2020. He told Cyclingnews that he has chosen to not be involved in women's cycling anymore.

Since Cyclingnews broke this story in 2019 Kirsten Frattini has gone on to write several exclusive and important stories on the subject. You can find all the coverage in the links below:

Riders file abuse complaints against Health Mate-Cyclelive manager

Six riders corroborate abuse allegations against Patrick Van Gansen

10th rider details unsettling environment at Health Mate Ladies Team

UCI begins investigation into abuse complaints against Van Gansen

Slappendel urges cyclists to file formal complaints with UCI against abusers

Health Mate to end title sponsorship amid Van Gansen investigation

Patrick Van Gansen to take legal action against women who allege abuse

UCI hires external agency to investigate abuse complaints against Patrick Van Gansen

Exclusive: Van Gansen faces new allegations of abuse as UCI delays Health Mate decision