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The head of the elite World Cycling Center Frédéric Magne has been removed from his post in Switzerland by the International Cycling Union, who say they have lost confidence in the former track world champion after allegations of bullying, sources have told AFP.
Frenchman Magne was dismissed after a series of alleged misdemeanors at the Switzerland-based velodrome, road-race and BMX training center, which also included abuse of power and misuse of company assets, the sources said.
“On the basis of the information we have received the UCI no longer has confidence in Frederic Magne,” an International Cycling Union (UCI) spokesman said, adding that he was removed from his job two weeks ago.
The UCI released this statement to VeloNews on Monday: “On the basis of information received, the UCI considered that the bond of trust has been severed and Mr Frédéric Magné left his position as Director General of the UCI World Cycling Centre (UCI WCC). The UCI will not make additional comments at this stage.”
The center has organized about 1,000 training camps since being set up in 2002 by the UCI with elite cyclists from around the world attending, including four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome and British Olympic gold medallist Victoria Pendleton.
Now 50, Magne spent 10 years at the head of the center where several witnesses told AFP of systematic bullying, violent and manipulative behavior and threats. Magne was Keirin world champion three times and is a four-time world champion in the track discipline tandem.
Magne is also accused of sending African trainees at the center home after an Eritrean ran away during his stay. Witnesses also accused Magne of failing to take into account the dietary requirements of Muslim cyclists.
One witness said Magne had used “a form of terror to put employees under pressure,” and systematically harassed trainers as well as employees on a regular basis, AFP reported.
According to employee testimonies, Magné was exerting pressure and blackmail against some workers. The former champion also nurtured his relationships with powerful and influential people, and is suspected of having offered, on CMC funds, custom bicycles worth several thousand dollars “to relatives, acquaintances and local personalities and international sports and political circles of which he was very close and with whom he sometimes rolled,” AFP reported citing sources.
The UCI refused to say whether it was planning to sue Magne.
Magne told AFP on Monday he was unable to comment on the allegations for legal reasons. “I can’t comment at all, I am bound by a confidentiality clause,” he said.
The accusations came to light after a complaint was made by a former employee whose contract was not renewed. Other reports say Magne made trainees clean up his personal garage and bikes, mow his lawn, clean his car and take his children to school.
Magne’s lawyer said the accusations were groundless.
“We strongly contest these accusations,” lawyer Mathieu Blanc told AFP. He said the complainants were trying to damage Magne’s reputation and that his client’s contract had been terminated because of a divergence in politics and strategy.