Earlier this year, Wendy Lyall stood before nearly 1,000 spectators to receive her second-place medal in the 40-49-year-old division of the Leadville Trail 100. The high-profile mountain bike race, which takes place every year in the small town of Leadville, Colorado, has limited space and to race in it – let alone place – is a big deal.
It should have been the experience of a lifetime, but something wasn’t quite right. First off, Wendy Lyall was 35-years-old, too young to race in the division she placed in. Second, and most importantly, Lyall had never been selected to race at all.
Her friend Katie Brazelton, on the other hand, had. At the last minute, though, perhaps due to injury, Brazelton backed out of the race. Lyall, with Brazelton’s racing bib, competed and placed second. Now both women face felony charges of criminal impersonation and could be sentenced to 18 months in jail.
The defense has asked that the felonies be downgraded to misdemeanors, and many noted the seemingly extreme charges levied against two women, who simply swapped places in a race. Yes, it was ill-advised and against the rules. Yes, it was unfair to the other racers.
Still, is it bad enough to warrant a prison sentence? Both Brazelton and Lyall have apologized, admitting their mistake and expressing sincere regret – returning the medals awarded following the race.
For Ken Chlouber, founder of the Leadville Trail 100, it is no matter. His stance has remained strictly “rules are rules,” and he sees the women as an opportunity to make a public example. In the Leadville 100, cheating will not be permitted.
Chlouber was informed of the switch by the husband of another racer, and it was soon confirmed by others. Neither woman has appeared in court yet to face the felony charges against her, but few except either to actually face prison time.
- Vail Bike Racers Charged over Alleged Bib Swap (Vail Daily)