Updated: Sep 7
Update on September 7th, 2022, 1:30 AM EST: Both ProTouch and a source connected with African Cycling have provided additional details on the missing person. Mugisha has disappeared of his own volition and connected with other athletes from Rwanda that also immigrated to the area, which means that he is not in any danger. The case has drawn the attention of international agencies that are working diligently to bring the athlete back home, most notably that the headquarters of many federal agencies such as the NSA and FBI are near the area. The important message that our source connected African Cycling wanted to pass along is that the health and future of cycling within Africa is a fragile matter that needs to be nourished, future athletes should be dissuaded from copying the actions of Mugisha as it draws negative attention from the international community and damages the sport as a whole.
Rwandan cyclist Samuel Mugisha (ProTouch) is currently missing, following a failure to appear at the Maryland Cycling Classic. The rider was expected to make waves alongside his UCI continental teammates, the team itself hailing from South Africa. Mugisha is well-known as the winner of the 2018 Tour du Rwanda and has a successful record in Africa. Contrary to the CyclingTips report that "there is no concern for Mugisha’s safety," team ProTouch and event organizers filed an official missing person report with local authorities and his current situation is unknown. Mugisha, a top-level African athlete, not only failed to appear at the event but never showed up at the team's hotel preceding the event. Anyone that happens to see Mugisha is suggested to approach the situation with extreme caution and instead contact authorities immediately.
Riders at the 2019 Tour du Rwanda.
In a statement over Twitter, the team states that “ProTouch confirms that Samuel Mugisha arrived in the United States on Wednesday 31 August as per booked flight plan. He did not make his way to the hotel but instead made arrangements to be collected at the airport."
An earlier article written by CyclingTips went further to imply that the athlete may have purposefully hidden in the United States. Not only is the insinuation damaging to any recovery efforts, but it is entirely opinion-based. Earlier this year the athlete was interviewed by Rwanda's The New Times before the latest edition of the Tour du Rwanda and highlighted his strong connections with his team, “In the recent past we didn’t win even one stage but we need to have good preparations this time around. We have already started with local races and this gives me confidence that we can win stages this time around.” Until fact-based evidence is provided to prove otherwise, it is unlikely that the athlete willingly abandoned his team before the major international event.
It is currently unknown whether Mugisha is a victim of human trafficking or disappeared of his own volition, but what is certain is that Mugisha does not have a record of non-starts and instead of following the team's coordinated plans of transportation and lodging, instead willfully met with unknown individuals from Dulles Airport and has not been seen or heard from since. Local Rwandan news outlets such as Taarifa and The New Times have been helping raise awareness about the situation by routinely putting out articles calling for the return of their champion cyclist.