Emotional Misconduct


A content athlete is more likely to be successful than a harassed or abused one; safeguarding athlete development and pushing for achievement are not in opposition but are two sides of the same performance coin.  Cycling provides individuals with lifelong skills, makes them physically and mentally tough, and as a result, these individuals are better equipped to deal with a multitude of challenges.  The wide range of emotions athletes experience in practice and competition are normal, healthy components of cycling.  However, a repeated pattern of behavior by coaches, teammates or other participants that can inflict psychological or emotional harm has no place in sport. There are no overtly physical signs of emotional or psychological abuse/misconduct, but the absence of these signs does not make it any less serious.


Emotional misconduct involves a climate or pattern of deliberate, non-contact behavior that has the potential to cause emotional or psychological harm to an athlete or other participant. Non-contact behavior includes verbal and physical acts, as well as actions that deny attention or support.  Emotional misconduct must have a ‘sustained’ and/or ‘repetitive’ component or be seen as a course of conduct; it is not a single event.  It also includes any act or conduct (i.e. psychological abuse, emotional abuse, mental abuse, child abuse) described as emotional abuse or misconduct under federal or state law.

Examples of emotional misconduct prohibited by this policy include, without limitation:

1. Verbal Acts
  • Verbally attacking an athlete personally (i.e. calling them worthless, fat, or disgusting)
  • Repeatedly and excessively yelling at participants in a manner that serves no productive training or motivational purpose
2. Physical Acts
  • Throwing sport equipment, water bottles, chairs, or other similar objects at, or in the presence of, participants
  • Punching, hitting, kicking walls, windows, or other similar objects in a manner likely to intimidate other present participants
3. Acts that deny attention and support
  • Ignoring an athlete for extended periods of time
  • Giving an athlete “the silent treatment” on a regular basis
  • Routinely or arbitrarily excluding participants from practice


Emotional misconduct does not include professionally accepted coaching methods of skill enhancement, physical conditioning, team building, discipline or improving athletic performance.  Constructive criticism about an athlete’s performance is not emotional misconduct.  Reminder: emotional misconduct must have a ‘sustained’ and/or ‘repetitive’ component or be seen as a course of conduct; it is not a single event.


Upon proof of a violation of USA Cycling's policies regarding emotional misconduct, the offender will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, which may include suspension or expulsion from USA cycling and referral to law enforcement authorities.

This Article Updated May 21, 2015 @ 04:45 PM For more information contact: