Marc Bracke suspended for sexual harassment
Over a year after the UCI began their investigation into Marc Bracke the team manager for Doltcini-Van Eyck has been suspended from working in cycling. Bracke has received a three-year suspension from the UCI Disciplinary Commission, although the details of the suspension have not been released to the public, Bracke’s team released a statement regarding the suspension on their social media.
“Marc Bracke has never been heard in this case and not one of his universal human rights, including the rights to defend himself, have in no way been respected,” the statement read. “UCI does not stand above the law.”
The team that continues to stand by Bracke also insisted one of Bracke’s victims was using the system to reduce a doping ban. They conveniently forgot that multiple women went to the UCI for help regarding not only Bracke but also a member of the team’s staff.
In case you forgot, Bracke is the guy who asked a 24-year old for photos of her in “panties and bra”, you know, for business reasons.
Bracke was found guilty of violating the UCI Code of Ethics in early October of 2020 by the UCI Ethics Commission who then handed the case over to the UCI Disciplinary Commission. The Disciplinary Commission was in charge of formulating the proper punishment for Bracke, but while they debated Bracke was allowed to continue working in the sport.
A similar case saw Patrick Van Gansen receive a retroactive three-year suspension over a year after he was found guilty by the UCI Ethics Commission.
This flaw in the system allowed Bracke and Van Gansen to remain in managing roles of women’s cycling for long after they should have been removed.
The Cyclists’ Alliance, the women’s cycling union, released an open letter regarding the way both the Van Gansen case and the Bracke case were handled shortly after Van Gansen’s suspension. In the letter, the TCA recommended multiple changes to the process, including informing the victim of movement in the case.
Bracke continued to direct Doltcini-Van Eyck throughout the Spring Classics until the Tour of Flanders organizers requested Bracke not attend their events. With no real power to keep him away, it was a statement that garnered enough attention for the UCI to change their proceedings when it came to cases like those of Bracke and Van Gansen.
In early June of 2021, the UCI gave their Ethics Commission the power to sanction guilty parties without the UCI Disciplinary Commission. The power shift meant that hopefully years will not pass before the guilty party is removed from a position of power.
The UCI Ethics Commission is also now able to provisionally suspend individuals while a case is being investigated.
“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 stated via press release.
Another change to the process allows the victim to be party to proceedings. Before these changes, victims would only find out how the case was going when news hit the media.
Bracke’s suspension is another step forward for women’s cycling, although the continued support from his team management and sponsors shows there is still work to be done when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable members of the sport.