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TotalEnergies fall short of addressing Geniez domestic violence sentencing

Coppa Bernocchi 2021 102th Edition Legnano Legnano 1975 km 04102021 Alexandre Geniez FRA Team TotalEnergies photo Tommaso PelagalliBettiniPhoto2021
(Image credit: Sprint Cycling Agency)

TotalEnergies have issued a public statement Friday condemning domestic violence. However, the team did not directly address the fact that their rider Alexandre Geniez was issued a four-month suspended prison sentence for domestic violence against his former wife, or that he has been permitted to continue racing with the team.

"Team TotalEnergies condemns all forms of domestic violence, and wholeheartedly supports action to prevent and combat such abuse. Respect for people and the acquisition of responsibility are cardinal values that are supported by and shared within Team TotalEnergies.

"The team pays close attention to any situation that could violate these principles, and reserves the right to take appropriate disciplinary action in the event of proven misconduct," read a statement issued by TotalEnergies on Friday.

The UCI has confirmed that its Ethics Commission will explore its options on any further action to be taken against Geniez. It appears by their statement, TotalEnergies seem to be waiting for the UCI before taking any disciplinary action.

Geniez's former wife Lucie Garrigues reported the violence to police in Rodez last November, accusing him of physical abuse dating back to February 2020.

In a January court hearing, Garrigues said that Geniez had thrown a phone at her on November 7, saying to her: "You will understand – you will see what happens to you". 

A further instance of violence allegedly followed on November 17, with Garrigues producing medical certificates for the two incidents – one of which showed a haematoma to her forehead resulting in her missing a day of work. 

Her sister testified in support of the allegations as a witness.

Geniez's lawyers contested the allegations that he used violence against Garrigues, saying: "We recognise the threats, but we contest the physical violence. Mrs Garrigues always avoids discussions – she never wanted to leave when the relationship was toxic."

Audio recordings of Geniez's threats and the cries of Garrigues were used in the evidence against him.

Geniez was handed a four-month suspended prison sentence on Wednesday, although prosecutors in Rodez had initially requested a six-month suspended sentence

Geniez was present at the hearing in Rodez as he was handed the sentence.

He has continued racing with TotalEnergies while the court case was ongoing, competing at both the Saudi Tour and Tour du Rwanda, both in February.

TotalEnergies has so far not responded to messages from Cyclingnews, and other cycling media publications reported no response from the team regarding the domestic violence case against Geniez or that he has continued racing during the court hearing.

The UCI told Cyclingnews on Wednesday that it had not been made aware of the proceedings against Geniez but stated that the case would fall under the jurisdiction of the UCI's Ethics Commission.

"The UCI had not previously been made aware of the criminal proceedings against Mr Geniez," the UCI wrote to Cyclingnews. "As this is a matter that would fall under the jurisdiction of the UCI Ethics Commission pursuant to Appendix 1 of the UCI Code of Ethics, we will draw their attention to the decision from the French court.

"The Ethics Commission will consider whether to ask for the production of documentation with a view to opening disciplinary proceedings."

Should the Ethics Commission conduct an investigation and find the party guilty of breaching any aspects of the Code, the Commission has the power to implement a range of sanctions. These include, but are not limited to, reprimands, educational measures, the return of awards, suspension from the cycling-related activity, and fines of up to CHF1,000,000.

The UCI also announced last June, following its Management Committee meeting, that it has given its Ethics Commission power to sanction individuals, including provisional sanctions, without having to refer cases to the UCI Disciplinary Commission. 

"To reduce the length and complexity of proceedings opened for violations of its Code of Ethics, the UCI decided to entrust its Ethics Commission with full sanctioning powers. The Commission can therefore impose sanctions without referring, as was the case previously, to the UCI Disciplinary Commission," the UCI said of the new measures.

"The Code now provides for various measures and sanctions that can be imposed by the Ethics Commission, including provisional sanctions, preventive and/or coercive measures to avoid conflicts of interests and suspended sanctions which may be accompanied by educative measures. This means that the extremely varied nature of cases the Ethics Commission examines can be taken into account with the imposition of measures that are preventive, educative or punitive, depending on the nature of the case."

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