LONDON • The beleaguered Team Sky have suffered another body blow in their attempts to rebuild their brand after they suspended Gianni Moscon for six weeks for racially abusing FDJ's Kevin Reza.
The incident occurred after Friday's Stage Three of the Tour de Romandie, which was won by Sky's Elia Viviani, and has led to the Italian being handed a formal written warning.
Moscon was alleged to have used racially abusive language towards Frenchman Reza.
Despite the allegations, Team Sky chose not to withdraw the 23-year-old from the race, which concluded on Sunday, after discussions with FDJ.
A statement from the British outfit read: "Following a disciplinary meeting with Team Sky concerning an incident at the Tour of Romandie, Gianni Moscon has been given a formal written warning and suspended from racing for six weeks.
"He will also attend a diversity awareness course.
"Gianni recognises that his behaviour was wrong and how seriously Team Sky take this kind of incident. He apologised to Kevin Reza after the stage and again to him and his team the following morning, and this apology was accepted.
"Gianni knows that there is no excuse for his behaviour and that any repeat will result in termination of his contract."
The incident comes at a time when UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) has been investigating allegations of wrongdoing affecting Team Sky and British Cycling.
Team Sky have been under scrutiny since October, when it was revealed that Ukad was looking into a claim that former rider Bradley Wiggins was injected with triamcinolone, a powerful corticosteroid, at the end of the Criterium in 2011.
Central to the investigation has been the contents of a package, hand-delivered by a British Cycling coach and sent from the National Cycling Centre in Manchester, to the team at the end of that race.
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS