Posted by Editor on 07/3/05
In the past few weeks, three things have happened which I find very disturbing:
1. At a local Wednesday night race in Toronto an argument over who was or wasn't working in a breakaway escalated to the point of punches being thrown, a rider being deliberately forced off the course, and the crash it led to resulted in a broken wrist to another rider (an innocent party - Darko Ficko).
2. At the CHIN Picnic criterium on Canada Day a rider rode up to Annie Segat after the race and began screaming extremely abusive language at her because of something an Italpasta rider allegedly did in the race. Annie helps run the team, but was just standing in the pit when rider number 56 came rolling up, red faced, with veins literally bulging on his forehead, to rant at her. At the same event, we were treated to lots of swearing and screaming during the race, with a particularly embarassing performance coming from a leading local team and its manager). Both of these instances happened in front of Canada Day crowds.
3. Yesterday (Saturday), some results from the Track Nationals were slow coming in, so we had not yet posted them (it is kind of difficult, when you do not have the results...). A parent of one rider sent us a nasty e-mail, accusing us of being lazy and not doing our job. We explained that results had not been received by us, and would be posted as soon as possible (which they were). No apology or acknowledgement to-date.
In all three instances, we have people (men) in their 30's and above acting in an irrational and abusive manner over situations that, in the grand scheme of things, just don't matter that much. The races (CHIN and the Wednesday night race) are not important races. Sure, there maybe local bragging rights (and some cash at CHIN), but let's be honest: top riders were not there, and the parties involved were part time riders at best.
This is beyond embarassing, it is pathetic. I know some of the parties involved have children; did you think what sort of message you were sending?
I travel to Worlds, Olympics, World Cups, etc. In fact, I can confidently say that I have attended more major cycling events that probably anyone else in Canada in the past two decades (I am up somewhere around my 20th Worlds). I also know and have interviewed most of the top riders, and I can tell you: they do not act so childish (at least in public), even at events that have considerably more importance. On the rare occasions when tempers escalate, sanctions are immediate and punitive.
Besides the inherent danger of such aggression (Darko pointed out "we are a bunch of 40 year old guys, racing for fun. Next time someone could get seriously hurt"), these actions can cause irreparable damage to our sport. How long do you think CHIN (or any race) will last if people start complaining about abusive language and behaviour? How likely is someone to encourage their children to get involved in a sport that condones such behaviour?
As far as I am concerned we, as a sport, need to send a message that this behaviour will not be tolerated. Provincial bodies need to sanction riders and teams who act in a manner that brings the sport into disrepute (the regulations exist). Race organizers need to start refusing entry to troublemakers. Teams need to start disciplining their own riders, and we all need to stop turning a blind eye to actions that we know are wrong.
July is the month when cycling is in the greatest spotlight. Let's not blow it.
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