Kirchmann praises Team Sunweb’s ‘MeToo’ protocol

Team Sunweb, together with their riders, have developed a #MeToo protocol that is meant to help create awareness surrounding sexual abuse and harassment in the workplace. Canadian time trial champion Leah Kirchmann told Cyclingnews that she feels safer knowing that there are clear behaviour and ethical expectations, and step-by-step instructions for reporting sexual abuse.

“We came up with it last year in the wake of all of the #MeToo stories coming out in the mainstream news,” said Kirchmann referring to the #MeToo movement against sexual assault and harassment that went viral in 2017 as a hashtag on social media. 

The movement was a response to the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace, and particularly after multiple sexual abuse allegations were levelled against American film producer Harvey Weinstein.

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Cycling has not been immune to reports of abuse. Ten riders filed abuse allegations with the UCI Ethics Commission against Bigla manager Thomas Campana in 2015. This year, Cyclingnews reported in early June that three former Health Mate Ladies riders – Esther Meisels, Sara Mustonen and the father of Chloë Turblin – separately filed complaints with the UCI Ethics Commission, reporting abuses by manager Patrick Van Gansen. In the wake of that report, seven more riders have come forward to corroborate the allegations. Campana and Van Gansen denied all allegations.

“Team Sunweb wanted to take the initiative to show that they believed [abuse] was an important subject to bring awareness. [Management] wanted to prevent things like this from happening within our team,” Kirchmann said.

“It’s very clear for new staff coming to the team, too. We can show them this document, and our expectations are clear.” 

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