Report finds widespread bullying, intimidation and abuse in Dutch cycling

Almost two-thirds of top Dutch riders have endured one or more ‘unpleasant’ experiences within their team in the past year, and more than a quarter have said that they have not felt safe, according to a report published by the Dutch Cycling Federation (KNWU). A third of amateur riders also said that they had suffered ‘unpleasant’ experiences, and on average one person cited four such experiences over the past year.

The report claims that as many as one in three have been the victim of physical or verbal violence in the past year. Of those who said they felt unsafe, many said that they felt most threatened by other athletes, followed by trainers or coaches.

Some 13 per cent said that they had been on the receiving end of inappropriate sexual behaviour, including ‘touching’ and comments. The report stated that perpetrators tended to be men, but there was one woman involved in the instances reported.


Some 41 per cent of riders said that they had felt coerced or blackmailed into doing something. Excessive control over private life was the highest noted type of coercion, constraint or blackmail, with losing weight the second. Other respondents said that they had been forced to pay out money to the team in order to remain part of it or to be included or gain selection. The occurrences of this increased when it came to amateur-level riders.

The investigation was undertaken by criminologist Anton van Wijk and Professor Marjan Olfers. In a report that spanned more than 20,000 words, the KNWU detailed their findings and the measures that would be put into place in light of them. The KNWU has said that they will work with the Dutch riders’ association, the VVBW, to ensure better conditions.

“We intend to start a campaign in the short term to discuss intimidation,” the KNWU said in a statement issued at the same time as the publication of the report. “The norm is a safe and pleasant sports environment, not one of reviling and belittling.


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