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Patrick Lefevere Apologizes for Sexist Remarks, Avoids UCI Fine

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Patrick Lefevere Apologizes for Sexist RemarksDAVID PINTENS - Getty Images

Facing a fine from the UCI for a pair of derogatory comments he made about women, SoudalQuick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere has publicly apologized in a statement posted to his team’s website.

“On Thursday, March 14, 2024, I was informed that the UCI Ethics Commission decided that two statements I made were in violation with the UCI ethical code,” the statement opened. “With this statement, I want to make clear that I accept the decision of the UCI Ethics Commission.”

The UCI publicly sanctioned Lefevere on March 14, posting a statement on its site that outlined the ethical rules Lefevere violated by making his comments. He faced a fine of 20,000 Swiss Francs (roughly $21,900). However, the UCI said that the fine would be waived if Lefevere issued an apology. It only took one month.

The UCI’s statement never said exactly which offensive statements it was referring to. Rather, it only referred to them as “public comments considered as disparaging towards women.”

However, Lefevere clarified exactly which comments he was being punished for, saying in his statement, “The committee refers to these two comments: one in an article on July 3, 2021, in Het Nieuwsblad and one in a television interview on March 8, 2023, in the program De Afspraak.”

It’s a bit unclear what comment Lefevere is referring to in the latter, as most of that article discusses Mark Cavendish’s performance in that year’s Tour de France.

However, there is no doubting the stance Lefevere took on De Afspraak.

It was in that appearance, which he was slated to discuss a documentary made about him, that Lefevere made comments about women and alcohol use as it relates to performance on the bike, what he deemed “inappropriate behavior,” and even sexual violence against women.

“I acknowledge that the sentences referred to can be perceived in a doubtful way,” the statement continued. “It was never my intention to harm anyone, and therefore I apologize. I apologize explicitly to the UCI, the UCI Ethics Commission, and to all persons concerned or who have perceived these statements in a harmful way.

“The way our teams work should also offer proof that it was never my intention to offend or harm anybody: today we employ 74 riders and 106 full-time staff members, both men and women, in a diverse and inclusive work environment with no distinction in terms of origin, gender or background. In this way, we will continue our journey.”

Lefevere caught international flak a few years ago, when, asked if Soudal Quick-Step would start a women’s team, he replied that he wasn’t “a welfare center.” He was in hot water again last year when he said that many female pros are “not worth” the minimum wage the UCI established.

He once compared former Soudal Quick-Step rider Sam Bennett to “women who return home after domestic abuse” and drew the ire of Marion Rousse after he attacked her husband, Julian Alaphilipe, saying the former World Champion was “seriously under the influence” of Rousse.

Rousse, who is the director of the Tour de France Femmes and herself a former national champion, responded on social media, saying, “Under no circumstances will I allow you to talk about my private life. From now on, please stop talking out of turn and show a little more respect and... class.”

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