An eye for lies and a tooth for truth
Editor: Lester Earnest (les at cs.stanford.edu)
Liability Press, Los Altos Hills, California
Cyclops USA is an irregular journal of bicycle racing and governance. It attempts to advance the sport of cycling by analyzing the forces that shape it and the inevitable corruption that creeps into the governance process. It originated during the editor’s tenure on the board of directors of the United States Cycling Federation (USCF) and its committees (1977-1999) and has continued since his successful lawsuits against its successor, USA Cycling, which unfortunately remains rather corrupt. Cyclops is an aperiodical: publication dates are determined on the same basis as our office cleaning: we do it whenever enough dirt accumulates. Early articles were originally published in printed form, facilitated by the editor’s invention of the spelling checker in 1961, an advanced document compiler called PUB in 1971 and by his1981 introduction of desktop publishing systems using laser printers while serving as founding President of IMAGEN Corporation.
My wife and I got dragged into bicycle racing in the 1970s by our two sons and when I saw that the U.S. Cycling Federation (USCF) Racing Rules were poorly written I started submitting rule changes that were all adopted, including one that allowed riders to wear shorts of any color, not just black. However, as I later discovered while officiating at a race in the San Francisco financial district, there was no rule requiring cyclists to wear any clothing, so some rode naked.
Given that I had invented the spelling checker and an advanced document formatting system, I was appointed USCF Rulebook Editor in 1977 and in 1979 I completely rewrote the Racing Rules and got them approved while concurrently being elected to the Board of Directors. I then was put in charge of all U.S. bicycle racing for a time, which was rather challenging.
Based on my observation that head injuries were the most dangerous ones in cycling, I began advocating a strong helmet rule but encountered fierce opposition from those who thought that cyclists should be able to choose whatever kind of helmet they liked. Unfortunately, most chose the traditional “leather hairnet” which consisted of thin leather straps with padding inside, which gave almost no protection in a fall. The result was that our insurance rates were soaring, so I kept pushing on that.
In 1984, I officiated at the Olympics in Los Angeles and then discovered that the American team had indulged in blood doping. After confirming that there was no rule against that, even though the U.S. Olympic Committee pretended otherwise, I got one adopted, which soon spread around the world and eventually nailed Lance Armstrong and his crooked colleagues.
I eventually got a strong helmet rule adopted effective 1/1/1986 but temporarily lost my seat on the National Board because of my advocacy -- even my own bike club (San Jose BC) worked to defeat me. Nevertheless, that rule also soon spread around the world, including professional cycling and the Olympics, and recreational cyclists then adopted it in much of the world. As a result, thousands of lives have been saved. I am proud of that.
In 1992, I initiated a proposal to form a new national cycling organization called USA Cycling (USAC) that would unite various branches of the sport. Unfortunately, while I was on a two-month tour of Europe some crooked businessmen managed to bribe staff members into letting them amend the proposal so that a majority of the Board of Directors would be elected by people with business interests, who made up less than 1% of the participants in the sport. I fought hard to block that takeover but failed. Once crooks take over an organization, it is very hard to bring about reforms through democratic processes, so they are still in charge. I also learned that the same thing had happened in some other sports and in the U.S. Olympic Committee itself, so the whole thing is a mess.
In 1999, I helped organize a countermovement called FIAC (Federation of Independent Associations for cycling), which was focused on regional racing, and I became its Executive Director for a number of years. However, the crooks running USAC then started prohibiting anyone who raced in our events from participating in international races, including the Olympics, so we sued them. Unfortunately, a stupid judge in Colorado ruled that they could do that, which put us out of business and encouraged more corruption in other international sports.
The U.S. Congress could fix this by amending the Olympic Sports Act but for some reason they like to create business monopolies in sports, indicating that they too are corrupt. In recent years, I have been managing an underground movement called ROSA (Reform the Olympic Sports Act) with a number of current and former athletes participating and looking for an opportunity to fix this mess. We will pounce when we see a chance.
L. Earnest, Postal Doping. Happily, an increasing number of bike races are being conducted without USA Cycling (USAC) permits though USAC is threatening to crack down on this. Meanwhile Inga Thompson, a top level racer in the 1980s to 1993, is speaking out on the corrupt attempts to force her into blood doping by the same people who are still running USAC.
L. Earnest, Doping is just part of the problem. The fact that Lance Armstrong and his colleagues were able to engage in blood doping for years without getting caught is a symptom of a more fundamental problem, namely corruption at the highest levels of our national sports organizations.
Maciek Romanowicz, Lance Armstrong: A Greedy Doper or an Innocent Victim? 2012 December. Those who have admired Lance Armstrong for his accomplishments in overcoming medical adversity to achieve international fame as a cyclist are dismayed by recent revelations.
Matt Smith, Tour de Farce, SFWeekly, 2005 Sept. 7. Lance Armstrong’s doping and his strong ties to San Francisco investment banker Thom Weisel are actually old news, as this 2005 article indicates.
Joe Papp, The Toll of Doping - was it worth it? Doping can ruin your life – and that’s the message I have for young athletes who might face similar choices.
Charles Howe, Nevada City Classic. Fans of this great race have been treated to many spectacular and thrilling exploits since 1961. The history of the Classic reads like a movie script sprung from some Hollywood writer’s imagination, but it isn’t – it all really did happen, and that makes its tradition one of the richest of all sports.
L. Earnest, Why was cycling not included in the ancient Olympics? The first proto-bicycle appeared at the beginning of the 19th Century but should have been invented thousands of years earlier. Had that happened, world history would have been considerably different.
Charles Howe, Le Tour Trilogy. Three articles review events that led to the inaugural Tour de France and the pivotal races of 1964 and 1975.
Charles Howe, “The Great Moral Crusade of Cycle-Sport” The inaugural Tour de France was a byproduct of a feud between two French newspapers that started with a political scandal.
Charles Howe, The Greatest Bike Race – Ever With apologies to Mr. LeMond, this one was even better than '89
Charles Howe, The Fall of King Eddy Merckx stood as tall in defeat as he ever did in victory
L. Earnest, Bylaws and Racing Rules of the Federation of Independent Associations for Cycling (FIAC). As founding Treasurer, then Director and now Executive Director, I drafted both the bylaws and racing rules of the upstart FIAC.
L. Earnest, amendment to: Standard Specification for Helmets used in Recreational Bicycling or Roller Skating, ASTM Standard F1447. Revised the existing bicycle helmet standard to restrict its used to recreational cycling and expand its use to cover recreational roller skating.
U.S. Congress, Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, This Federal Law charters and grants monopoly status to the United States Olympic Committee and specifies requirements for its National Governing Bodies that control access to international competition in all Olympic sports. It replaced the 1978 Amateur Sports Act so as to accommodate the admission of professional athletes to the Olympics that began in the 1990s.
L. Earnest, amentment to: Standard Specifications for Helmets used in Skateboarding and Trick Roller Skating, ASTM Standard F1492. Revised the existing skateboarding helmet standard to make it applicable also to trick roller skating.
L. Earnest, Standard Specification for Helmets used in Recreational Roller Skating, ASTM Standard F1751. Provided the first helmet standard for roller skaters. Superseded in 2002 by revised ASTM Standard F1447 (see above).
L. Earnest, Bylaws of USA Cycling. Prior to becoming a founding Director and Secretary of USA Cycling, I drafted the original bylaws, which were then surreptitiously amended before presentation to the approving body. As a result, commercial cycling interests gained control of this “charitable nonprofit corporation” and have run it to suit their financial interests ever since.
L. Earnest, Bylaws of the National Off-Road Bicycle Association (NORBA). Drafted the NORBA bylaws after this organization was purchased by USCF in 1989 and drafted new ones prior to the formation of USA Cycling in 1994.
In 1986 the U.S. Cycling Federation became the first national or international bicycle racing organization to adopt a strong helmet rule. This happened in spite of cycling traditions, rider apathy, and political chicanery by officers and directors. It was made possible by a timely mishap.
L. Earnest, Skirmishes Tradition usually takes precedence over common sense.
L. Earnest, report There are many reasons for not wearing a safe helmet.
Bigg Byrd, Numbers count. The lessons of Sesame Street are yet to be learned.
L. Earnest, Growing richer blood. Advocates investigation of EPO as an alternative to other blood boosting schemes.
L. Earnest, Book Review: Dave Prouty’s In spite of us. Cycling's old guard takes a licking but keeps on ticking.
L. Earnest, Paper Tigers. The United States Cycling Federation has a longer history of voting fraud than most Third World countries.
L. Earnest, What makes cycling grow? The number of cyclists is cyclic. The reasons are enigmatic.
L. Earnest, Who will control cycling in 2001? USCF has held power for 47 years. Will there be a successor soon?
L. Earnest, Officer Rupp, Living Legend. Protecting the roads against cyclists is a tough job, but Rupp does it.
L. Earnest, Coors is safer than tea. Alexi Grewal won a gold medal in cycling at the Los Angeles Olympic Games shortly after admitting that he took ephedrine during an international stage race. This was facilitated by U.S. Olympic Committee and cycling officials who had a conflict of interest that would not be fixed for another 16 years. A number of other political machinations were also involved.
L. Earnest, Blood dopes of the 1984 Olympic Games. Blood transfusions that were unethically administered to U.S. cyclists during the Olympics probably didn’t improve their performance but might have serious medical consequences later.
L. Earnest, Stoned. Rolling Stone magazine and others publicly denounced blood doping that occurred during the 1984 Olympics. However, the Stone’s claims were mostly fabricated in spite of the fact that they had accurate inside information.
L. Earnest, Please be polite! U.S. cycling coach defends blood doping.
L. Earnest, About Cyclops USA. How Cyclops USA began as an aperiodical muckraking journal.
L. Earnest, Cardiovascular capers. How the threat of terrorism was used to justify illicit blood testing during the 1984 Olympic Games.
L. Earnest, Blood bath. How blood boosting became established in the United States Tiddlywinks Federation.
L. Earnest, Racing Rules of the United States Cycling Federation (USCF). I completely rewrote the bicycle Racing Rules and got them adopted by the Board of Directors.
L. Earnest, Springer bounces back. Chris Springer was a four time national champion as a Junior when he came to the starting line at the 1978 National Road Race Championships in Milwaukee to defend his title. He was a contemporary of Greg Lemond and used to beat him often with his superior sprint. However he was barred from racing by the chief official for unstated reasons. This led to turning points for both Chris and the author.