American team sanctioned after mechanic disguised herself as rider

cycling26 February 2024 19:35| © Reuters
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An American women's cycling team have been sanctioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) for fraudulent actions after a mechanic was told to disguise herself as a rider in order to satisfy race regulations.

The sport's governing body said a Disciplinary Commission found that Cynisca Cycling, a UCI Women's Continental team, tried to circumvent rules that required five riders per team to start the Argenta Classic event in Belgium last July.

"Although only four riders were present and available to start the event, several members of the team had participated in a fraud ... by attempting to deceive the Commissaires' Panel into believing that a fifth rider was present and could take part in the event," the UCI said in a statement.

The UCI said the team's Sports Director Danny Van Haute instructed riders Anna Hicks, Cara O'Neil, Katherine Sarkisov and Claire Windsor to lie about the whereabouts of a fifth rider who was unable to race because of illness.

Having initially stated that the fifth rider was "present but ill" they were told the team would not be allowed to compete unless the fifth rider signed in and was ready to start.

Van Haute then instructed team mechanic Moira Barrett to wear rider's clothes and a face mask and a present herself at the start as the team's fifth rider, the UCI statement said.

Van Haute was suspended from all cycling activity until 31 December, 2025, as well as being fined while the four riders were reprimanded for their part in the saga.

Barrett was banned until September 2024 and the team were fined and suspended from the next event on the UCI calendar.

The team said Van Haute had been contracted for a few races and that other staff were not aware of his actions.

"Cynisca Cycling understands the need for disciplinary action taken by the UCI," its statement said. "The team did not and will never condone this sort of behaviour.

"This was a one-time mistake by a rogue director."