Home > News

Patrick Lefevere criticized for insensitive domestic abuse comments

The Deceuninck-Quick-Step manager said Sam Bennett's return to Bora-Hansgrohe was “the same as women who still return home after domestic violence"

Photo by: Sirotti

In light of American gymnast Simone Biles withdrawing from Olympic events to focus on her mental health, the stress and pressure put on professional athletes has been one of the major topics of conversation during the Tokyo Games.

Patrick Lefevere, general manager of Deceuninck-Quick-Step, shared his thoughts on the topic in his regular Het Nieuwsblad column on Saturday. In his writing, he compared Sam Bennett’s impending return to Bora-Hansgrohe as “the same as women who still return home after domestic violence,” calling the Irish sprinter “the epitome of mental weakness.”

The column was not well received by the cycling community.

Bennett and Lefevere

Lefevere compared Bennett to a victim of domestic abuse while writing about the mental fortitude of the riders on Deceuninck-Quick-Step. “Last but not least, there is Sam Bennett,” he wrote.”For me the epitome of mental weakness. Leaving Bora-Hansgrohe and telling everyone that he was bullied there and thus almost depressed and bankrupt, but fourteen months later he simply returns. It’s the same as women returning home after domestic violence.”

It’s not the first time Lefevere has publically spoken out against Bennett, who is expected to rejoin his old team Bora-Hansgrohe next season. When the cyclist announced he would not race in the Tour de France, Lefevre expressed doubt that he was actually injured, suggesting instead that he had “performance anxiety.”

“I cannot prove that he does not have knee pain, but I am starting to think more and more that it is more fear of failure than just pain,” Lefevere told Sporza. “Yesterday he had to come to Belgium, but then there were problems with his plane again. Then you start to think strange things.”

Bennett and Lefevere

Lefevere’s highly insensitive remarks were widely condemned by cycling fans and media.

The UCI has not yet issued any statement on the remarks, though some have noted that they could be interpreted as a breach of duties.

Bennett, who is not expected to race the Vuelta a España, has not commented on Lefevere’s remarks.