Risk Protection Talk: Athlete Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility


In last month’s Technical Director Update, I provided a blurb about why my new role at USA Cycling is important to me.  This month I wanted to build on the concept of why everyone’s engagement in this program is essential to building a safe environment for all participants.

First of all, misconduct and abuse happens in all sport disciplines.  No one sport is necessarily more or less likely to have misconduct occurring.  Misconduct and abuse appear in many forms: Physical, Emotional, Sexual, Bullying, Harassment and Hazing.  Misconduct and abuse can occur during practices or races, it can happen in private or public and it can be perpetrated by anyone, even a teammate, coach, official or parent.  Some statistics indicate that 90% of victims know the person who caused harm to them.  These dynamics make it particularly important for everyone around the sport to remain vigilant. 

Another complicated dynamic is that many victims feel guilt associated with their victimization.  Some victims chose to keep their victimization a secret while others may want to report, but are unable to because of fear of threats and harm.  All of them, however, just want the misconduct and abuse to stop.  Many are not able to stand up to their perpetrator on their own and may need others to intervene on their behalf.  The SafeSport program aims to empower others to confront or report misconduct and abuse, empower victims to report to safe and trusted people, raise everyone’s awareness that misconduct and abuse happen and educate them on how to respond should they encounter a situation like this. 

As Officials, you may be in a position to witness these types of events, or perhaps be the person someone confides in.  It will be important for you to know how to handle that person or situation when confronted with it and where to go with the information afterwards.  Over the next several months, more articles will be written and more information will be made available on how to recognize, respond and report misconduct and abuse. Also, later in 2013, a USA Cycling SafeSport manual will be made available to all cycling participants outlining all of the above and it will be made publicly available for all members to reference.  

Our SafeSport initiative will take necessary and appropriate steps in policy and in practice, but conducting background screens and building policies and reporting guidelines is not enough to end misconduct and abuse within cycling.  Every participant must understand how important they are in helping eradicate misconduct and abuse within cycling and everyone must understand they have an obligation to intervene in and/or report misconduct when we see it or hear it.

Thanks for reading,
Jon Whiteman

This Article Updated September 12, 2013 @ 03:58 PM For more information contact: