Grégory Baugé, the French track sprinter, said racism exists in cycling, but that he personally has not had to deal with it during his racing career. Speaking to the French website Cyclism’actu, the three-time Olympian answered questions about the growing controversy in the United States following the death of George Floyd.
“It exists everywhere, in cycling, too,” Baugé told Cyclism’actu.net. “Since I’ve been involved in cycling at the highest level, I have not necessarily felt racism. Later, I know that Kévin Reza experienced some difficult first years with acts of racism, and he was not properly supported.”
Floyd’s death has triggered a series of protests across the United States that have since spread to Europe and beyond. A conversation about racism has widened to include questions about sport. The cycling community and bike industry have reacted in a variety of ways, including many voicing support of a growing movement.
The question of racism and professional bike racing, long a simmering issue, came to the fore in the 2014 Tour de France, when French rider Kevin Reza said other riders in the peloton expressed racial slurs against him. Reza was the victim of more racial slurs in 2017 in an incident involving rider Gianni Moscon, who was later suspended by Team Sky.
“When you are black, so much goes through your mind,” Baugé said of the protests. “You have to hold back, even if you might want to strike out and to burn everything down. Is that the answer? I don’t think so, but sometimes we don’t know what to do.
“We suffer, and we are all alone,” he continued. “We see it in football [soccer], and they say they are against racism, but in fact they do nothing at all. The authorities don’t see it as a problem, and as soon as it does not bring in more money, it does not interest them.”
Baugé, a four-time Olympic medalist in track sprint events, said he’s been watching the unfolding events across the United States and the world with a mix of sadness and hope.
“Racism is part of our daily lives, and always has been,” Baugé said. “We learn to live with it, even if it’s unfortunate. I can understand the acts of violence. It shouldn’t be that way, but everyone is fed up, and one has the impression that no one is really taking up our cause. It’s been a week since the death of George Floyd. It’s one more, one too many, and I don’t feel like it’s changing. I’m trying to stay positive, but it hurts.”