USA Cycling seeks to provide a safe and fun environment for all its participants in the sport of cycling. To become a USA Cycling certified coach, a candidate must pass a test for each level of proficiency that requires a coach to demonstrate knowledge of cycling principles appropriate for that level.
USA Cycling recognizes that there are elements of coaching that go beyond knowledge of cycling techniques and rules, and that participants and parents alike strive to find coaches who are worthy of their confidence and trust in many other respects. For that reason, USA Cycling subjects each coaching applicant to a background check conducted by the National Child Safety Initiatives to identify coaches whose trouble with the law may have produced a criminal record. In light of the constitutional rights of the accused in this nation, of course, not every brush with the law is documented and recorded and there are significant reporting delays in some cases, but this database is at least a starting point. Riders, parents, and local association officials have other resources to ensure that they are comfortable with their coaching choices, including references from prior coaching appointments and the recommendations of athletes. In addition, insurance carriers are often a surprisingly good source to minimize risk on a variety of fronts.
USA Cycling understands that no screening process is absolutely perfect, and encourages anyone involved in the sport to report potentially criminal behavior to local law enforcement agencies immediately. We support clear "zero opportunity/zero tolerance" policies when it comes to inappropriate behavior by coaches, and we believe that the development of communication, training and response protocols goes a long way toward minimizing problems.
We are not talking only about crimes, of course. A coach who taunts, bullies or drives the athlete too hard (often in an attempt to live vicariously or to promote him/herself as a coach) has no place working with kids. As a parent/guardian, you still play the primary role in creating a safe and fun environment for your child, and USA Cycling will support your efforts.
On a final note, parents are keenly aware from national media reports of the potential exploitation of children in a variety of contexts by adults placed in positions of trust. Although such abuse is not common, it is intolerable and local communities have resources to assist a parent or child in reporting or dealing with instances of abuse. USA Cycling commends the nonprofit organization Darkness to Light for offering many resources about sexual abuse.
The above page was developed with assistance from National Center for Safety Initiatives and USA Cycling staff and legal counsel.