If you weren’t aware of the controversy surrounding the signing of Chloé Dygert to Canyon//SRAM allow us to inform you.
Back in June Chloé went on something of a ‘liking’ phase on Twitter, she clicked the ‘like’ button on a series of tweets in support of Donald Trump, more than that, though, Dygert liked a series of tweets which were racist, transphobic and homophobic.
Fast-forward to November, Dygert has signed for a new team, moving out of America and in to Europe from TWENTY20 to Canyon//SRAM in the shape of a four year contract. After a big splash on Twitter, Instagram and even Canyon//SRAM’s homepage, with Dygert holding a Wall Street Journal, reading the piece which announced her riding for Canyon//SRAM.
A few days later, those Twitter likes, have gone and Canyon//SRAM, a team which has done so much to change the face of cycling and stands for diversity, inclusion and equality, issued a statement which read:
“Canyon-SRAM Racing and all of its members stand by a number of values, including treating all people with respect and dignity regardless of gender, colour, sexual preferences or background,”
“Our team exists to inspire people, especially women, to discover the beauty of cycling, from riding for enjoyment to racing to win, and everything that falls in between.
“We commit to regular training and support to ensure all members are fully aware of and align with our team’s values. This applies to all riders and equally to Chloé Dygert, who in a public statement has willingly committed herself to the values of our team.”
Dygert herself issued a non-apology in an Instagram post, which she then screen grabbed and put on Twitter, said: “I apologize to those who felt offended or hurt by my conduct on social media”.
Tweets which were ‘liked’ by Dygert, which include statements such as “white privilege doesn’t exist” as well as a transphobic tweet from Donald Trump.
Another tweet which was liked and then subsequently un-liked by Dygert said that American Football player Colin Kaepernick “realised that if he grew an afro and played the part of victim, he could scam the black community out of millions”.
The Donald Trump tweet about female-only homeless shelters refusing transgender people read: “Men who self-identify as women, are not actually women, just as children who self-identify as mermaids, are not actually fish.”
It’s been announced today that Rapha, who’s advertising has been focused on promoting diversity over the last twelve months, has also committed it’s self to the team. Rapha has issued a strong statement on the Dygert signing, a statement which has taken over a week to make since the one from Canyon//SRAM.
The timing of this release has to be questioned, too. On Black Friday where inboxes are filled with sale emails and Cycling websites running stories on the best Black Friday deals.
“Earlier this year we committed to fighting discrimination within cycling as part of our wider effort to promote diversity, inclusion and greater equality in the sport we love. It’s absolutely imperative that as we develop our relationship with this subject, we do so with integrity.” The statement reads.
Continuing: “we are writing to you today to clarify our position on the actions of new Canyon//SRAM Racing rider Chloé Dygert who, back in June, endorsed racist and transphobic views on social media. Rapha wholeheartedly condemns these actions as they were offensive, divisive and have no place in cycling or society.”
“Since we became aware of this incident, we have taken time to fully investigate what happened, consulting with the rider, Canyon//SRAM Racing and other partners in order to take informed action in response. Having undergone that process, we believe that Chloé has made very serious errors of judgment, which were compounded by an apology she issued that was not sufficient. However, we also believe that trusting the ability of people to change is key to reaching any form of meaningful reconciliation. Having spoken to her at length, we believe that Chloé has the capacity and the will to listen, learn and to change.”
Rapha clearly have been in anguish to establish what to do, to carry out the correct action. However, in standing by the rider they will also lose out. It never feels quite enough when a person escapes punishment for holding racist views and endorses such Tweets.
These are for now, words. Words which we have to hold Rapha, Canyon//SRAM and all the teams sponsors by.
If you’d like your say on Rapha’s stance on this, you can do so by clicking here.
The difficulty lies in people would prefer action to words but action shouldn’t be made in a knee jerk way. Change can take time and if you boot Chloé from the team, while that sends a firm message, where does Chloé go on to learn and educate herself that what she did was wrong?
Rapha says in its statement, “All of us, the team and each of its partners, have acknowledged that we need to take action following this incident to ensure that this never happens again. Canyon//SRAM Racing have already taken clear steps to work with Chloé and is engaging with an external Diversity & Inclusion consultant in order to develop a comprehensive programme of diversity and inclusion training that focuses on dialogue and education.”
This echos what Canyon//SRAM said in its original statement. There are still question marks though, how is she being educated? Who is doing it? How do we see results?
While redemption is not an overnight process hidden in the non-apology and deleting of ‘likes’ and Tweets Rapha said “Exact details of the program will be published by the team in the coming weeks.”
There is argument, and a very strong and undeniable one, to say this has happened before in the shape of Gianni Moscon, riding for then Team Sky, who racially abused Kevin Reza back in 2017. Moscon was subsequently suspended for six weeks and sent on a diversity awareness course. It’s unclear what was said but you can see Kevin and Gianni in a heated discussion as fellow Team Sky members celebrate the Stage win by Elia Viviani
You can also look at Quinn Simmonds who tweeted “Bye” with a blakc hand emoji in a Twitter response to Dutch cycling journalist Jose Been. Quinn Simmonds got suspended by American team Trek-Segafredo. Simmonds also issuing a non-apology saying “I would like to apologise to everyone who found this offensive as I strongly stand against racism in any form.” rather than actually saying sorry for doing it.
So what next for Canyon//SRAM, they’ve backed their rider as have the teams sponsors in the name of redemption. One thing is for certain, everyone will be watching Chloé Dygert to see if she trips up anywhere, if she does there will be nowhere to hide.
This could be the start of change, the incident which really brings the focus on diversity in cycling and makes teams, riders and individuals think about their use of language, context and their actions.
Or, it could be another moment when cycling is given the opportunity to stand up and do something and let’s it slide away.