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Cynisca Cycling Team’s Attempted Fraud Unveiled: Mechanic Poses as Rider


The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Disciplinary Commission has reached a verdict in the disciplinary proceedings concerning UCI Women’s Continental Team Cynisca Cycling.

The case was brought to the attention of the Disciplinary Commission due to suspected fraudulent actions by members of Cynisca Cycling, aimed at facilitating the team’s participation in the Argenta Classic – 2 Districtenpijl Ekeren-Deurne despite not meeting the mandatory requirement of five riders for the start.

Following investigations, the Disciplinary Commission determined that although only four riders were present and available to commence the event, several team members engaged in fraudulent activities under article 12.4.008 of the UCI Regulations. These actions included attempts to deceive the Commissaires’ Panel into believing that a fifth rider was present and could partake in the race.

The team’s Sports Director, Danny Van Haute, instructed the present riders (Anna Hicks, Cara O’Neil, Katherine Sarkisov, and Claire Windsor) to provide false information about the whereabouts of the fifth rider, who was not physically present at the venue. When informed by the Commissaires that the team required all five riders to sign the start sheet and commence the race, Van Haute instructed the team mechanic, Moira Barrett, to dress in a rider’s attire and a face mask, presenting herself at the start as the fifth rider and sign the start sheet.

As a consequence of these actions, various members of the team were implicated in the fraud under article 12.4.008 of the UCI Regulations, with different levels of involvement.

Danny Van Haute, identified as the main perpetrator, has been suspended from all cycling activities until December 31, 2025, and fined. Moira Barrett, who actively participated in the fraud, has been suspended from all cycling activities until September 1, 2024, and fined.

Clasica de Almeria 2024 - 2nd Edition - Puebla de Vícar - Puebla de Vícar 102 km - 25/2/2024 - Lauren Stephens (Cynisca Cycling) - Yuliia Biriukova (UKR - Human Powered Health) - photo Carlos Barba/SprintCyclingAgency©2024
Lauren Stephens wins Clasica de Almeria for Cynisca
(Photo Credit: SprintCyclingAgency)

Anna Hicks, Cara O’Neil, Katherine Sarkisov, and Claire Windsor, who followed Van Haute’s instructions, have been reprimanded under article 12.3.002 of the UCI Regulations.

Additionally, the team has been suspended from the next UCI race for which its participation is confirmed, and fined.

The decision remains subject to a possible appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The team took its first win of the season at Clasica de Almeria with Lauren Stephens yesterday.

Update: 17:57pm 26th February 2024

The team has released the following statement about the incident.

On 9 July 2023 at the Argenta Classic in Belgium, the Cynisca Cycling team did not have the required number of riders to start the race due to illness. A sports director Danny Van Haute, who was hired by Cynisca on contract for several races, attempted to pass a team mechanic as a registered rider to the race officials in order to have the required number of riders to start the race.

As a result, the Cynisca team members were not allowed to start the race and a complaint was filed to the UCI Disciplinary Commission. After an investigation, the UCI has decided that Danny Van Haute was the main perpetrator and sanctioned him with a suspension until 31 December 2025. The team is sanctioned with a suspension for the next event on the UCI calendar.

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 immediate actions internally and terminated all current and future relationships with Mr. Van Haute and the mechanic. The team then fully cooperated with the UCI investigation.

Cynisca Cycling understands the need for disciplinary action taken by the UCI. The team did not and will never condone this sort of behavior. This was a one-time mistake by a rogue director.

We thank the UCI Disciplinary Commission for their careful consideration of the actions. On behalf of the team, we once again apologise to the event organisers for the behavior that occurred at the event.  

The team looks forward to continuing our mission to advance more women in cycling.