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The Cyclists' Alliance appoints ethics officer to support abused riders

The Cyclists’ Alliance (TCA) launched in 2017
The Cyclists’ Alliance (TCA) launched in 2017 (Image credit: The Cyclists Alliance)

The Cyclists’ Alliance (TCA) announced Tuesday that it has appointed an ethics officer in an effort to better support riders who experience mistreatment and abuse within professional cycling. Judith van Maanen, an experienced Legal Counsel, will act as the first point of contact for athletes with complaints and queries.

"Recent news and developments in women’s cycling make it transparent that the sport needs significant change to its culture," Slappendel said in a press statement. "Judith is an experienced Legal Counsel and an avid amateur cyclist with a detailed understanding of women’s cycling. Our case-work regularly deals with routine mistreatment and sexual harassment of riders, so this role will be hugely important as we make our next step to support as many riders as possible."

The voluntary role will focus on establishing the extent of rider complaints; guiding riders through relevant regulations, codes and applicable law; and navigating them through various stakeholders involved in the process such as the UCI Ethics Commission, National federations or local police.

The UCI Ethics Commission is currently investigating formal complaints of abuse against HealthMate-Cyclelive manager Patrick Van Gansen and Doltcini-Van Eyck manager Marc Bracke. The allegations centre around the UCI Code of Ethics: Appendix 1, which covers protection of physical and mental integrity – sexual harassment and abuse.

TCA contributed to some of the more recent changes to the UCI Code of Ethics through its extensive rider surveys. The UCI updated its Code of Ethics in November 2018 to better protect athletes in cases of harassment and abuse to include three main changes: better 'anonymity of plaintiff' to protect the victim's privacy; dedicated reporting channels for filing complaints; and allowing teams to identify a person of contact who has the right to collect information relating to situations of sexual harassment and abuse and take action with the UCI Ethics Commission on behalf of a team or rider.

TCA is widely considered the de facto union for women's cycling, initially looking to provide contract and educational support, career advice, and legal and retirement assistance. It has since expanded to include services to improve career opportunities, advocate for fairness and equality, resolve disputes, and to support and elevate the popularity of the sport. 

It’s support services also include free legal advice and dispute resolution; contract health check and negotiation advice; now a dedicated Ethics Officer; education on athletes’ rights; a private electronic social platform for instantaneous communication on topics and important issues; financial planning and post-career guidance; mentorship programs; and preferential insurance offers. 

It was awarded a grant from Rapha Foundation that amounts to $75,000 in funding earlier this year. The association said that it will use the funds to help deliver a new seven-point plan to revolutionise the compensation and culture of professional women's cycling.

The seven-point plan intends to advocate for the national and international governing bodies of cycling to implement the following minimum standards for all rider - WorldTeam and Continental Team; earn a minimum salary, maternity leave, racing/training expenses covered, paid vacation, life and disability insurances, support team members to be qualified, checked and professional, and a standard approach to race safety.

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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.