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UCI Suspends US Women’s Cycling Team for Dressing Mechanic as Driver to Evade Disqualification

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UCI Suspends US Women’s Cycling Team for Dressing Mechanic as Driver to Evade Disqualification
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“Desperate times call for desperate measures” is a phrase that comes to mind when looking at the actions of the US women’s cycling team Cynisca. They committed “fraud” by dressing a mechanic as a rider to avoid disqualification from a race. Therefore, the International Cycling Union (UCI) suspended the women’s team.

According to the UCI’s statement, the Cynisca team requires five riders in order to participate in last July’s Argenta Classic in Belgium. However, they arrived at the start line with only four riders. So, the team’s then-sports director, Danny Van Haute, decided to do something clearly not allowed.

He told the four riders, Anna Hicks, Cara O’Neill, Katherine Sarkisov, and Claire Windsor, to “lie about the whereabouts of a fifth rider.” They told the officials that she was sick. 

The officials then informed the team that they needed a fifth rider in order to compete. Then, Van Haute told the team’s mechanic, Moira Barret, to step in. He told her to wear a rider’s clothes and face mask and sign the start sheet as a rider. 

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After that, he presented her as a rider at the starting line. However, the UCI later found out about this act of fraud. They put out a statement that reads, “The above-mentioned members of the team were therefore all found to have participated in a fraud under article 12.4.008 of the UCI Regulations, with different levels of implication.”

According to the Cynisca team’s statement to CNN, this incident was a “one-time mistake by a rogue director.” They  also added, “At the time of the event, other team management/staff were unaware of the deception carried out by Mr. Van Haute and the mechanic.”

“Upon learning of the incident, the team took action internally and terminated all current and future relationships with Mr. Van Haute and the mechanic. The team then fully cooperated with the UCI investigation.

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“Cynisca Cycling understands the need for disciplinary action taken by the UCI. The team did not and will never condone this sort of behavior. On behalf of the team, we once again apologize to the event organizers for the behavior that occurred at the event,” it concluded. 

According to the UCI’s investigation, Van Haute “was found to be the main perpetrator” of this deceitful incident. Therefore, they suspended him from all cycling activity until December 31, 2025. They also fined him appropriately. 

The UCI also found that Barrett “played an active role in the fraud by wearing a rider’s clothes and attempting to sign the start sheet as the team’s fifth rider.” The agency suspended her till September 1, 2024. They also reprimanded the four riders.

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The UCI fined the team and banned them from the next race on the UCI International Calendar. The Cycnica team also said one of the riders, Hicks, has left the team. They said in a statement that “the team looks forward to continuing our mission to advance more women in cycling.”

In addition, they hope to appeal the decision by the UCI. “The decision remains subject to a possible appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS),” the statement added.

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