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Thoughts: Martin Hardie

Posted by bikezilla on November 6, 2011


Martin Hardie, the lawyer who helped but did not represent James Stout, is also the lawyer who represents Trent Lowe.

What are the common threads between Stout and Lowe?

1. They both dealt with a mysterious alienation between themselves and the managers of their teams. They seemed to have a sound relationship, then all or nearly all communication stopped, seemingly with malice on the part of the managers (Phil Southerland at Team Type 1, Jonathan Vaughters at Garmin).

2. The both had / have issues that don’t seem to make sense surrounding their separation from their teams.

 

3. Both dealt with or are dealing with their former teams and managers refusing to pay them and / or withholding bonus money after separation.

4. Both were counseled by Martin Hardie.

In both cases Hardie was antagonistic toward the teams and managers.

In both cases Hardie displayed a habit of making provocative public statements, then sitting back and maintaining that neither he nor his charge was able to speak on the matter due to pending legal actions. We are just to ignore the fact that he continues to throw out little jabs and poison barbs during the entire period of said pending legal actions.

In both cases Hardie’s charges demonstrated both fear and paranoia based solely on information and counsel gained directly from Hardie.

Martin Hardie seems to be poison disguised as caring, causing more harm than good in any situation that he touches, giving advice that damages not only whatever current situation his charge may be in, but also the future career potential of those charges.

I have to wonder if Hardie’s advice and interference was the direct cause of the rifts that opened between Stout and Southerland, and Lowe and Vaughters.

Hardie utterly lacks professionalism. Here is an example of an email he sent to JV:

I am trying to be open and honest with you.

I am also trying to keep Trent from blowing his lid and going public. I have made it fucking clear as to when and how he will talk to you. Just tell me now if you will pay him or not and when. If not I will let him do what he likes and you can deal with that without me helping. It is really quite fucking simple. I don’t know why you are being such a scrooge about paying him.”

If Hardie is not the root cause of the conflicts between Stout and Southerland, as well as those between Lowe and Vaughters, then he is at a minimum a contributing factor.

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Team Type 1 and the Electric Kool-Aid Litmus Test

Posted by bikezilla on August 10, 2011


Part 1, Part 2, Parts 3 & 4, Postscript, Team Type 1: Opinion

Team Type 1 and the Electric Kool-Aid Litmus Test

an editorial follow-up to my 4-part interview with James Stout

You might think that speaking to James Stout for our interview formed my opinion of Phil Southerland and Team Type 1 management. You’d be incorrect

When I first heard about James, my immediate opinion was, “Disgruntled former employee,” “prima donna,” “crybaby.”

To quote myself:

James is at once, mature and immature; humble and arrogant; naive and wise; grounded and flaky; stoic and a drama queen; tough and a sniveling bitch.”

What James is not, however, is a bitter former employee out to badmouth his ex-boss.

I gave James opportunity after opportunity to talk shit about Phil Southerland and Team Type 1. Not once did he take advantage of that, not even off the record.

When he discussed Phil and the team he seemed frustrated, sad, flabbergasted, regretful, but not angry.

Contrary to what I had expected, James felt and continues to feel a significant debt of gratitude toward Phil and TT1.

In fact, the one and only time that James ever seemed angry, was when he discussed the doctor who mockingly told him to “play chess.”

Almost as soon as I began my research on James Stout, I came across the account of Willem Van den Eynde, whose abuse at the hands of Southerland and Team Type 1 instantly one-upped the Stout story.

To summarize the situation, according to Van den Eynde himself, Willem was denied food and sleep, forced to sleep on the floor of Southerland’s hotel room, screamed at by Southerland for daring to momentarily place his bag on the bed in that room, berated by management for daring to train on his bike, given a diet that neither conformed to his diabetic needs nor to his needs as an athlete (putting him at risk of a hypo), was denied testing supplies by Phil Southerland though they were readily at hand (apparently Southerland laughed at him after the denial of testing supplies), was forced to pay all of his own expenses and never reimbursed.

Then I learned that WHILE James was going through his ordeal there were three other riders (at a minimum) who acknowledged they were going through similar hassles and harassments.

Every one of those other three riders is so intimidated and outright terrified of what Phil Southerland might do to them that they all refuse to discuss their time with Team Type 1.

The topper, however, the detail that pushed things over the edge in my formation of an opinion regarding Phil Southerland and Team Type 1, was hearing the rumors of an insurance fraud investigation that is ongoing in Italy.

The spread of dishonesty and corruption had become too much to overlook, or even to doubt, at least in my own mind.

From those few details that I’ve just shared came another handful of thoughts and opinions:

  • If we know that just during Stout’s time with TT1 there were at least four riders all in similar circumstances, and we know that prior to that time there was at least one other, how can we not assume that there are many, many more such cases?
  • Looking at the bulk of just the known cases; three of the five are so frightened of Southerland that they’ve gone into hiding and cannot bring themselves to speak of their time on TT1. Willem Van den Eynde spoke up very briefly, but has since vanished and gone silent.
  • It seems that Southerland and top management at Team Type 1 are a kind of wolf pack, identifying the weak sheep, culling them from the herd and savaging them without mercy. The difference here, in my opinion, is that unlike wolves, Southerland and his crew seem to inflict their torments purely for sport.
  • Worse, Southerland and his top managers choose young athletes who lack the life experience to even properly recognize what’s being done to them until it is far too late.

The only thing that set James apart from the other victims (those we know of and those we don’t), is that after a series of personal struggles, which saw him very nearly caving in to the same fear and intimidation that has muzzled all the others, he found just enough spine to step up and tell his story.

The interview that I did with James almost didn’t happen. Even after it was completed and written, James wanted it pulled and he see-sawed between hiding it from the world and daring to allow it to see the light of day.

Why? One can only presume that it is out of fear of Phil Southerland.

The day after Part 1 of our interview went up on Cyclismas for the first time (it was taken down for several days due to James’ concerns, then republished), Phil Southerland called James and screamed at him on the phone for 45 minutes.

If you’ve read Part 1, then you know that part of the interview is completely innocuous. There’s not one thing in there that could possibly be taken as negative regarding Phil Southerland or Team Type 1. They’re barely even mentioned.

Considering that Part 1 was completely inoffensive, then Phil could only have been in a panic about what he thought would be coming in future installments of the interview. Since nothing negative was even hinted at in Part 1, Phil must have knowledge of things that he 100% knows that he does not want released to the general public.

Phil Southerland had avoided any personal contact with James for months while James was struggling to learn what was going on and why, while James was losing his apartment, living in his car, unsure of where he would find his next meal, suffering without proper access to diabetes testing supplies and insulin. I’ve concluded that the moment Phil thought that James had found the courage to speak up in his own defense, Phil was instantly in contact in a most personal and threatening manner. To me, that speaks volumes for the character, ethics and morality of Phil Southerland.

Here are a few more details.

Immediately after Part 2 of my interview with James Stout went up, there was this comment posted to the Cyclismas site by an “AJohnson”:

How anybody could take this interview serious is beyond me. This kid has the reputation of a liar and a talentless cyclist. Plus, it sounds as if the interviewer is just trying to start a bunch of rumors about one of the few teams that is actually trying to do something good in cycling.”

First, the assessment that James is a “talentless cyclist” is something you may think is hinted at in our interview, where James tells us that he was at first on the elite team, and then on the developmental team. Except that if he were truly talentless, he would have simply been released. No team keeps on riders that cannot help the team, and no team should have to justify getting rid of a rider like that. That’s just a part of sports; if you aren’t good enough, you go home.

If James had been struggling in his performances, this is the kind of thing that would generally be known by someone who raced against James, but even more so by his coaches and teammates. But no such sentiments have been found online to back it up and no evidence nor even accusations of James presumed lack of talent were given as reasons for his release. To toss that out publicly now seems not only disingenuous, but slanderous.

Second, in my researching James, I did not come across a single reference about any lack of truthfulness or integrity in him. Not one. Even afterward a Google search for “James Stout liar” brings nothing. Nothing.

Instead, what I’ve been sent since the interview started going up has been 100% in praise of James and his character, that he’s pleasant, trusted, that the information he’s shared about diabetes has allowed individuals help themselves and to help others.

Aside from the mysterious and utterly unsupported “AJohnson” comment, not so much as a single comment, tweet or email has even hinted at James Stout lacking integrity or honesty. Not. Even. One.

The statements in the “AJohnson” comment are the types of statements that are made by disgruntled employers trying to cover their asses.

So I speculated that “AJohnson” was actually Phil Southerland himself, or else someone very close to Phil.

I discussed this with William Thacker, the publisher of Cyclismas, who checked the IP address. This is what he told me he found:

“The comment came from an ISP in Georgia, just outside Atlanta.”

The IP address has been saved, just so we can back that claim up.

Where is Team Type 1 headquartered? Atlanta, Georgia.

The day after “AJohnson” left his comment, Chris Baldwin started asking people I know about how to reach Cyclismas. He was given the editor’s email address, but has yet to contact her.

Chris Baldwin, according to the team’s website, is TT1’s PR Director for Europe. Right, he’s not a manager, he’s a PR guy, a spin doctor. That says to me that the team wants to spin the James Stout “problem” and that they feel that the interview contains things that embarrass them.

Then I have to think, “This Southerland guy seems far too much like Lance Armstrong, in all the most negative ways.”

  • As with Lance, everyone who speaks out against him is a liar, bitter and jealous because they have no talent.
  • As with Lance, sure he’s done a few questionable things, but you should just ignore all that because he’s really an unappreciated Man of the People, doing such good that any evil is negligible.

Phil seems to be setting himself up as a messiah figure, the savior of all those with type 1 diabetes. Much like Lance Armstrong has set himself up as the messiah figure to all those with cancer. Much like, in 1978, Jim Jones had set himself up as messiah to his followers in The People’s Temple, leading them to the tragedy in Guyana, and giving us the original reference of “drink the koolaid.”

I ask you now, can it be concluded that much like Lance Armstrong, Phil Southerland is a bully, a sociopath and a coward?

It is my fond hope that other abused riders will take courage from James Stout, and come forward to tell their stories, too.

————–

You can also find this and future interviews, plus a lot more cycling related content, at Cyclismas.

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James Stout Interview: Postscript

Posted by bikezilla on August 6, 2011


Part 1, Part 2, Parts 3 & 4, Postscript

When William Thacker, the publisher for Cyclismas, first contacted me about the James Stout interview, I hesitated, because who the hell is this Stout kid? Who ever heard of him? What’s he ever done? How much information will I possibly be able to find?

But looking into it a little I found the Stout / TT1 / Phil Southerland story to be intriguing, so I agreed.

I was told that James was ready for this, that he wanted to do it.

Overall, that was true. But James had bouts of uncertainty based on his legal situation.

There have been more gopher holes and protruding roots in the trail of this interview than ever should have been.

James’ issues with Phil Southerland and Team Type 1 first sidetracked and then nearly derailed publication of the interview on Cyclismas.

There were times when I thought very unkind things about James Stout, “flake” and “prima donna” were some of the kinder words that ran through my head when he crossed my mind.

But Thacker, calm, resourceful, peace making genius that he is, kept things running on track each time.

Much of my ill will and negative thoughts resurfaced and then re-submerged several times before everything was sorted out and publication was a go.

When we started talking I discovered that James is an excellent and interesting conversationalist. Talking with him was a truly interesting and rewarding experience.

Before I go on let me describe James to you: James is at once, mature and immature; humble and arrogant; wise and naive; grounded and flaky; stoic and a drama queen; tough and a sniveling bitch.

The interview took place via Skype connected to cell phone, America to Spain. The connection was not ideal. At times it was godawful atrocious.

While transcribing my Vaughters interview I might listen to a passage 2 or 3 times to make sure I understood something. Between the fuzzy connection and James accent I was listening to some snippets a dozen times or more; slowing them down, speeding them up, sometimes having to give up on them entirely and just leave them out.

For instance, during Part 3 James gave me the names of four friends. That snippet of recording took maybe 20 seconds to speak. But it took me nearly 10 minutes to piece together using a combination of what I already knew about James, what it kind of sounded like he said, and web searches, to get it all down correctly.

The digital noise break up was at its worst during the final ten minutes. During that stretch there was about five minutes worth of material that had to be left “on the cutting room floor” because the noise made them completely unintelligible.

That was frustrating, because James was sharing some really interesting personal stuff about school and what’s going on with him currently.

The one thing that made this interview both more difficult and more rewarding, was that when James speaks he is very “stream of consciousness”.

I’d sent James an outline containing the topics for each part of the interview. We’d start talking about one thing and he’d end up covering all or some of another topic. From his rambling I’d have more questions, questions that were not in my script.

So, I ended up with more material than I’d otherwise have gotten, but I also did a lot more editing and reorganizing, so that things would make the most sense and flow better.

For instance, the passage about the doctor who told James to play chess: That was covered early in the interview, then came up again with a lot more passion and at greater length much later. But it was stuck at the end of something it wasn’t really related to.

So, the second reference had to be moved up to beneath the first. I didn’t change any context or meaning, but without that change things would have been more jerky and repetitive.

There were a few things that surprised me.

First, how this behavior by Southerland seems to be a fairly broad problem, to the point that I have to call it a pattern of abuse.

That continues to be a surprise for me, because I really liked the notion of TT1 and I’d read some nice things about Southerland. It made it hard, at first, to take James and Willem Van den Eynde’s claims seriously.

Second, how James really did not at all come across as angry and bitter and trying to cause trouble.

Third, how the others that we know of seem not only reluctant to talk, but outright fearful.

Finally, what a flaming, arrogant, prima donna, pain in the ass James can be at times, but at others seeming so humble, pleasant, and generally calm and together in the face of adversity.

There is another significant difference between this interview and the interviews I did with Bill Strickland and Jonathan Vaughters.

In those previous interviews I went in knowing or at least assuming quite a bit about the subject. I had an idea before things even got rolling about what I wanted to ask and where I wanted things to lead. I had some nugget of “truth” that I wanted to attain.

With the James Stout interview I went in having never heard of James before and even after doing my research I had no idea of what to expect. I didn’t know what the “nugget of truth” was going to be, I had no real aiming point beyond attaining James’ version of the story.

When I finished those previous interviews I had a feeling of accomplishment, of completion, to one degree or another. With this one, not so much. It feels like there’s more out there, more to know, more to learn. Not so much that I missed something or that James withheld something, but just that all the pieces haven’t come together yet.

Will they eventually? Will the story eventually feel like it’s complete? I really don’t know right now.

But, for all his flaws and for all the hassle and high blood pressure James has caused me, I believe that he is truthful and that his account of what’s happened to him is accurate within his understanding of it.

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James Stout Interview: Part 3 and 4

Posted by bikezilla on August 3, 2011


Part 1, Part 2, Parts 3 & 4, Postscript

Part 3

Bz:

What was your personal performance like while on TT1, not the team’s, but just you? 

JS:

“I was part of the team that won the Race Across America, which is a massive achievement. I won a criterium race, I won a hill climb time trail. I raced Superweek. I raced a ton of races with TT1 in a support capacity and by myself.

“More than that we were able to make a huge impact on people with diabetes.

“I did a ton of athlete days, where I’d go to speak to kids with diabetes. Speak to adults with diabetes.

“I was the only one who was bilingual in Spanish and English, so I did a lot of work in Spanish speaking communities, where obviously income average is a lot lower than in a lot of White communities.

“And that’s as significant achievement for me, seriously, as winning bike races.

“If I can make one kid take a decent approach to their diabetes and not go blind, then that’s waaaaaaaay bigger than putting my wheel across the line in front of another dude.

“So, that was massive for me.”

Bz:

What was your position or role on the team, on and off the bike.

JS:

“I’d say I was more of a kind of . . . rolluer. I can go well in long races, I can go well in stage races.

“Yeah, stage races, longer hillier races. I like it when the weather’s groggy. More of that kind of thing, and certainly the criteriums, I’ve tried some longer time trials. But, longer stuff, rolling terrain, shitty gritty roads.

“I come from the United Kingdom, where our roads are just slow and dead. That’s what I’m used to doing.”

Bz:

Within the structure of the community outreach work, did you have a specific role in that, or did each rider or staff member have similar roles?

JS:

“For the outreach they’d send round the opportunities. We had to do outreach stuff, and we could volunteer.

“I was always really forthcoming in volunteering. Some of the guys saw it as a hassle. But, I loved doing it.

“So I was in the vanguard in that respect. I was able to do a lot of the outreach stuff. I never felt it was a burden. I was lucky enough to be able to do a lot of that.

“And like I said, with my Spanish speaking role, there were some things the other guys just couldn’t do.

“That was a big part of what I did for the team.”

Bz:

After January, when you couldn’t race any more, were you continuing to do outreach work?

JS:

“Yes, I was. Most times at my own expense, to the extent that I didn’t get reimbursed.

“Absolutely I was. I continue to do outreach work with diabetic people, here (in Spain – Bz), when I get a chance, because I care.

“I wasn’t doing it because it was a sponsor obligation. It wasn’t like I was sitting on the Shimano tent talking to people about how great their gears were.

“I was doing this because I don’t want any kid, eighteen years old, to be told, no you can’t, you have to play chess. You know? Bullshit. It’s not true.

“I want everyone to know that they can do what they want. Do to that I have to go out and impact them.

“So I do that here, now. I’m in Spain, I’m on my own, I have nothing to do with TT1. And if there’s a clinic or a doctor or an endocrinologist who will help me, then I’ll go. Because I really care.

“It’s not a sponsor thing, it’s not a professional athlete thing, it’s a James thing.

“I won’t stop doing that.”

Bz:

What was your relationship with your teammates? With staff? With managers?

JS:

“Really good!

“The soignuers were friends of mine, I got along with the guys who do the warehousing and that kind of stuff, with my teammates. We talked often and still do.

“If you look at my Twitter you can see that back and forth between me and a lot of the boys. They still email me to see how I’m doing. I’ve stayed with my teammates and babysat their children.

“Even now they say, “when you come back you’ll visit? You won’t be a stranger?”

“They’re my friends. They’re my good friends.

“I presume Phil terminated my contract. He certainly doesn’t seem to want to be my friend any more. So, I’m not sure I can consider him a close friend anymore.

“Aside from that, everyone I met through TT1 I would consider a friend. If I bumped into them on the street I’d say hello.”

Bz:

Were there any you were particularly close to?

JS:

“Bob Schrank, Dan Schneider, Jeff Bannink, Adam Driscoll.

“Those guys were like . . . I staid with Jeff for two weeks and he left his kids with me. You don’t do that unless you trust someone, right?

“Some of the best friends I have.

“Bob and Dan came and stayed with me this January in San Diego. I stayed with Bob before. Danny just sent me a care package of granola and peanut butter, because you can’t buy it in Spain.

“I’m really close to those guys.”

Bz:

Any you were particular NOT close to?

JS:

“Not really. There was no one I didn’t get on with.

“I’m a really firm believer that you shouldn’t go through life leaving a trail of enemies behind you. So, I try my utmost to . . . if someone isn’t my friend, then they’re just not my friend. They’re not necessarily my enemy.

“There’s no one who I would say I clashed with.”

Bz:

It must bother you on a personal level, the way things have gone bad.

JS:

“Yeah, it bothers me a lot on a personal level. I took a real hit.

“Only through working with Martin and Bruce (James therapist – Bz), he’s been helping with it on a personal level and just coming through it with my head screwed on right.

“On a personal level at first, it kicked me in the balls. I thought all my friends wouldn’t want to know me anymore. I thought someone would tell them something bad, or that I had done something terrible. But, credit to them, they’ve all taken the time to contact me and say, hey man you’re still my friend.

“That means a lot. That means a lot to me.”

Bz:

TT1 did not pay you for five months. Didn’t pay anything at all? Only paid part of what was owed?

JS:

“Nope, nothing. Absolutely zero. When I say not one penny, I mean not a single penny.”

Bz:

What about the insulin? Was that an instant cutoff? Or was it gradual?

JS:

“No, that was, ‘From date X we will no longer be giving free insulin to TT1 members.’”

Bz:

So that wasn’t just you? It was the entire team?

JS:

“It was only the people who weren’t getting paid. Because if you’re getting paid, you have health insurance.

“If you’re not getting paid, you don’t have health insurance.”

Bz:

People who had insurance had to get insulin through their insurance after this?

JS:

“Right. Correct. Which wasn’t a problem.”

Bz:

Which other riders were having problems with their visas? How many of you were there?

JS:

“I shouldn’t comment on other people’s visa situations.

“And I don’t know if they all weren’t getting paid or not. We never discussed that.”

Bz:

When they did finally terminate your contract it wasn’t over performance at all, but because of a tee shirt you wore to a party and a comment you made in your tweets?

JS:

“The reason they fired me was that I wore a tee shirt with the word ‘penis’ on it, and I retweeted something from Al Jazeera.”

Bz:

I think I remember seeing that. In the retweet you commented “no shit” or something like that.

JS:

“Yes, that’s it. That was considered sufficient to terminate my contract.”

Bz:

Had you butted heads with anyone on issues like this previously?

JS:

“I’d never heard of anything like that happening previously, and they’d never spoken to me about anything like that.

“I received a warning when I wore the tee shirt that said “penis”, and then my contract was terminated for twittering Al Jazeera.”

Bz:

It feels like there’s some amount of malice behind a lot of what happened to you and they way the situation was manipulated.

JS:

“It does.

“And it seems like I’m hiding some reason that they would hate me. If I am, then I’m hiding it from myself, because I just don’t know why. I don’t know what I did. I don’t know who I offended. I don’t know what I did wrong.

“That’s what upset me the most. Because no one will tell me.

“I mean wearing a tee shirt that says ‘penis’, it’s bullshit. It’s a drummed up excuse of the worst kind, and insult to my intelligence if they think I’d believe that’s a reason for terminating my contract.

“But I don’t know what else I did.”

Bz:

They claim that the tee shirt incident happened at a company event, but that was actually at a friend’s party and not related to work?

JS:

“That’s correct, it wasn’t at a TT1 function.”

Bz:

Was your health or your life ever in jeopardy due to lack of medication?

JS:

“Well, yeah, as I said, a week without your insulin and, as a diabetic, you’re about to go blind. A month without insulin and you’ll die.

“You can look up the effects of lack of insulin in Type 1 diabetics very easily on line, on Wikipedia or something and get more information

“Yes. If you don’t have insulin you’re life is very much at risk.”

Bz:

Ok, what about team ethics? This is a team that makes a very big deal of helping people with diabetes, of promoting proper care, treatment and testing. How do their actions toward you and toward Willem Van den Eynde mesh with the presumption that their mission is to help diabetics? 

JS:

“I have to say that it’s changed my conception of what their mission is, quite a lot. It doesn’t speak volumes about our mission to help people with diabetes.”

Bz:

How do they outreach to kids in Hispanic neighborhoods, then deny members of their own team medication?

JS:

“I wish I knew what the moral equivalent was, there. I wish I could understand how that tallies. I’m afraid I can’t explain it, because I don’t understand it.”

Bz:

It seems to be the antithesis of what TT1 stands for, but I guess there’s a lot of money to be had from public sympathy.

JS:

“I’m entirely in agreement with you.”

Bz:

At first I thought, well, maybe this is their way of maintaining control of people. But looking at it deeper, they didn’t really seem to be controlling you so much as simply shoving you down in the dirt.

JS:

“Yeah, it wasn’t a control thing, it was just a kind of, ‘we just want you to go away now’. And I don’t know why, like I said.

“I was training my ass off, I was constantly emailing them, here’s what I’m doing, how’s stuff with you, I was very communicative. I tried my best to be the model athlete.”

Bz:

Aside from this specific situation, what is the management system and the broader system of rewards and punishments like on TT1?

JS:

“There wasn’t really a system of rewards and punishments.

“People split prize money if you won races. Sometimes the issue was with organization with getting stuff where it needed to be on time and things were often delayed and such. But, I wouldn’t know how things ran on any other teams. So I wouldn’t know how to compare.”

Bz:

Did UCI have any hand in or knowledge of the situation and the conditions at TT1? Were they aware?

JS:

“They are aware of it, now.”

Part 4: Afterward

Bz:

I read that you’re type of diabetes isn’t “normal”. Sometimes your pancreas produces insulin and sometimes it doesn’t. So proper monitoring is even more critical?

JS:

“That’s correct, yeah. I’m very brittle about that, so I have to do a lot more testing than most diabetics.

“My diabetes came on late and my pancreas still sometimes kicks back with insulin. Which can be really dangerous. In the middle of the night it could kick out a huge insulin bonus and I could die in my sleep.

“I have to make sure that I’m always aware of what my blood-sugar is.”

Bz:

If you can’t monitor correctly and you have a surge of insulin, you could experience what they call a “hypo” (low blood-sugar) severe enough that you could die?

JS:

“That’s a hypo, yup, and that could happen to me, as it could to any diabetic, without monitoring.

“But that’s a side effect of too much insulin without proper monitoring.”

Bz:

Like if you took your insulin, then your pancreas kicked back in, and suddenly you have an unanticipated surge of insulin and an unexpected rapid drop in blood-sugar? Is that how it works?

JS:

“That’s correct, yeah. That’s something that more or less unique to my type of diabetes.

“So I have to make sure I have sugar with me all the time.

“I don’t have the luxury of not planning to always have . . . I always have a bag. Unless I’m riding, then I have gels in my pocket.

“But I can’t think, oh, I’m going to do a ride for five hours, I need 200 calories per hour so I need a thousand calories. I better have 400 extra, just in case something goes wrong.

“If I’m going for a walk, or I’m going to a cafe, I have my bag with two or three Dextrogels. I can never be apart from it.”

Bz:

Are you in school now?

JS:

“No. PhD studies aren’t like undergraduate studies. The credits don’t transfer. So eventually I’d like to get back to the U.S.”

Bz:

Are you riding for a team right now?

JS:

“Yes, I’m riding for Team Traveler right now. They’ve been kind enough to connect me with some kits and a bit of money. But it’s by no means a pro team.

“They’ve been really helpful in helping me get what I need to keep racing while I’m here.

“I’m very grateful to them.”

Bz:

I’ve heard that the UK’s cycling federation is heavily slanted against riders in any disputed matter. Have they been more hindrance than help?

JS:

“The British federation hasn’t been very helpful.”

Bz:

What of UCI’s role? Have they helped you at all?

JS:

“They have not returned any of the emails. So, no, in a word. They’ve chosen not to respond.”

Bz:

Did anyone, other than Martin Hardy, or any group advocate for you? IS there someone or some entity that normally would advocate for a rider under these circumstances or generally when there is difficulty for a rider with a team? Are you doing this all on your own?

JS:

“Apart from Martin and Bruce, and all the people Martin is connected me with, there’s my friends. My friend, Danna, who I spend a lot of time with here in Catalonia, people who give me advice, they’ve been great. But, in an official capacity, just Martin and the JD foundation that he’s a part of.”

Bz:

Now that you’re riding for Team Traveler, have you started racing again?

JS:

“Yeah, but when you haven’t raced and hardly slept for three months you really don’t have much form. But I’m getting back.

“I’ve been racing in France, I’ve been racing in Spain, been racing in Belgium.

“I just want to salvage something out of this season. I like racing my bike. I want to race my bike.”

Afterword

For me, this story began with James Stout. But it clearly extends well beyond James and even beyond Willem Van den Eynde. There are others. We know of some of them, but none except James have been willing to step forward. Fear keeps them silent.

What concerns me is that as with crimes centered on abuse, whatever does get reported, whatever may see the light of day, is almost always just the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

So, I wonder, how many more like this are there? And will any of them take some measure of courage from James and step forward themselves?

Bikezilla

_____________

You can also find this and future interviews, plus a lot more cycling related content, at Cyclismas.

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James Stout Interview: Part 2

Posted by bikezilla on July 29, 2011


Part 1, Part 2, Parts 3 & 4, Postscript

Part 2

Martin Hardy’s letter to TT1 on behalf of James Stout

James Stout blog entry regarding his issues with Team Type 1

Bz:

Martin Hardy is “A” lawyer, but not your lawyer? He wrote TT1 strictly as a friend and supporter, right?
 
JS:

“Yes, that’s right. Yes.

“Martin isn’t registered as a lawyer in the U.S. and he can’t represent me there. But he’s been a very good friend to me throughout this thing, when I went through some pretty dark times.

“Martin’s always been there for me.”

 
Bz:

Is Martin working with you on the case, now?
 
JS:

“He’s working with me. But, as I said, Martin is not a lawyer in the U.S.

“But I still turn to Martin for a load of advice, with regard to lots of things.

“He advises me in the capacity of someone who I trust.”

 
Bz:

How long were you with TT1, altogether?
 
JS:

“Two years.”

 
Bz:

I remember reading somewhere that the first year was actually pretty good.
 
JS:

“Yeah, it was fantastic! I loved it!

“That’s why this year I was incredibly enthusiastic.

“During any of my interviews from last year you’ll see that I wasn’t just on the team, but I was allllll about the team. It meant a lot to me. The diabetes things meant a lot to me. The team meant a lot to me.

“I was passionate about TT1.”

 
Bz:

Were you performing well, I mean at a high level, at the time?
 
JS:

“Yeah! I mean, we won the Race Across America, I won a criterium last year, I finished a few tough races in Belgium. So, yeah, things were all roses, until January of this year.”

 
Bz:

How did you go from point “A”, happily employed as a professional cyclist, to point “C” unemployed and at odds with your former team? We seem to be missing something important in between.
 
JS:

“I wasn’t really making anything public, because I was told not to by the team. I thought everything would be ok.

“And it turned out that everything wasn’t ok.

“At some point I realized that things weren’t gonna be ok. I had spoken to Martin and Martin gave me advice and we tried our hardest to resolve things amicably and it wasn’t working. So, at some point we had to reveal everything that happened, into the public sphere. We had to, unfortunately publish some things.

“TT1 still means a lot to me. I don’t want to run that name into the ground. But they didn’t act in a manner that was consistent with the image which they portray and at some point you have to be accountable for your actions.

“So, after five months of not receiving a paycheck, when I lived in my car, moved out of my house because I couldn’t pay rent, when for months I didn’t have a visa in the U.S., when I had to return to Europe at my own expense, I realized that the only way I was ever going to salvage anything out of this situation was to publish what I did publish on Martin’s website.”

 
Bz:

At what point, or how, did it begin going from good to bad?
 
JS:

“Well, there was a delay with the visas, a delay with pay. Eventually I never received any pay, from January of 2011.

“From then I tried my best to reach out to the team and I asked what was going on. At first they just told me, it’ll be sorted, it’ll be sorted. And I trusted them because I thought they were my friends . . . well, long story short, I shouldn’t have trusted them, at least in that capacity. Because,  I still haven’t received a penny.

“That got worse and worse. At first it’s one month without pay, then you can’t afford the rent on your house, then you’re sleeping on your friend’s couch, then you’re living in your car, then you’re selling all your shit to buy food.

“Then one day you realize that it’s not happening and you need to go home.”
 

Bz:

In your own writing and even in articles about you, your poltics are front and center. Was that ever a source of conflict between you and the team? Was there a grind between your way of thinking and team owner Phil Southerland’s way of thinking?
 
JS:

“I can’t say that there was, because Phil hasn’t communicated with me for months. And the reason I was dismissed was not officially that.

“But, it’s clear, as you say, that I wear my heart on my sleeve and if I feel something then I say that. Some people might not like that. I don’t know if he’s one of them and I wouldn’t like to presume to speak for him.

“But it’s not beyond the realms of possibility.”

 
Bz:

Whenever you were face to face with Phil, was there any friction? Or did it seem that things were ok?
 
JS:

“No, things seemed ok.

“The day before I left the United States I rode 100 miles with Phil. We chatted. It was ok.

“I mean, Phil was never like my best buddy and I didn’t see him that much. But, yeah, I turned to Phil for advice. I used to turn to Phil for medical advice all the time. There have been times when I’ve rung Phil at two in the morning to ask him what I should do with my insulin.”

 
Bz:

When things started turning, did he confront you? Or did he just kind of disappear out of your life?
 
JS:

“Ummm, he’d occasionally send me a couple of official emails. They were always in official language. And then he just hasn’t really spoken to me.

“When my contract was terminated, etcetera, that never came through Phil.

“So, since things have started really turning, I’ve not heard from Phil.”

 
Bz:

Phil started out as a mentor, almost a friend, and then he just vanished?
 
JS:

“Exactly,  yeah. Yeah. I don’t really hear from him.”

 
Bz:

And you were never really aware of the reasons behind that change?
 
JS:

“No. No, I don’t know what I did to him. I considered him a friend at one point, and I wouldn’t go that far now.

“I don’t know what I did to warrant that.”

 
Bz:

Were you on the team at the same time as Willem Van den Eynde?
 
JS:

“No. No, all I know about Willem is what you’ve read on Cycling News.

“I’m afraid I’ve never even met Willem.

“I’ve raced in Belgium, and I’ve never even seen another diabetic bike racer in Belgium. So, maybe he’s not in the sport any more.

“I’m afraid what I know about Willem is what you know about Willem, or anyone else who’s read the Cycling News.”

 
Bz:

His story is very similar to yours. His medication was withheld, he was forced to sleep on the floor of Southerland’s hotel room. He was denied food, berated by management, and he didn’t really understand what was going on, either.

Were you aware of other similar stories? More than just yours and Willem’s?
 
JS:

“Not of that kind of thing. But obviously when you’re on a team they don’t say, hey, do you know about this guy and this guy and this guy. So, if that had happened I’m sure that I wouldn’t have heard of it.

“But I’m not aware of any other stories in the same light.

“With the delays in our visas, that didn’t only affect me. But I wasn’t aware of anyone in the exact situation.

Willem Van den Eynde’s story, and here’s a discussion at Cycling News forums that contains a better translation of that article

Bz:

Willem Van den Eynde’s case was resolved successfully through the Belgian cycling federation and UCI. Have you attempted to seek a settlement or arbitration through your own national federation? Have you contacted UCI? If so, what were the results? What’s the status of your claims vs TT1?
 
JS:

“Yes. I was licensed through the USA cycling federation. I’ve been in touch with them and received no help and no response.

“Likewise Pat McQuaid (president of UCI – Bz), likewise UCI.

“That disappoints me, I’m not going to lie.

“There is a mountain of organizations who are designed to catch riders cheating, move bikes around, enforce all the rules.

“There should be an organization which supports the riders. There should be a (formalized – Bz) union of professional cyclists, which will step in on riders’ behalf.

“I really strongly feel that.

“I’m now with the Spanish federation (RFEC — Bz). Previously I went through USA Cycling.

“British cycling, in their wisdom, refused to grant me a license when I wasn’t living in the U.K.

“Which is total bullshit. Hundreds of riders which aren’t resident in the U.K. have British licenses; Mark Cavendish, David Millar, Bradley Wiggins, Geraint Thomas. Those guys don’t live in London or Oxford. Everyone lives in Italy or France or Spain.

“For whatever reason an official in the USA decided to kick up a fuss about me being registered in the U.S. from a British license even though I spent half the year in the United Kingdom.

“So I was forced to federate with the USA Cycling federation, who have not been that helpful in this case.”

 
Bz:

Have you tried to get help from the Spanish federation?
 
JS:

“Because I wasn’t licensed by the Spanish federation at the time, I haven’t. But, they have been entirely supportive in all my interactions with them. As far as processing my license,  helping me find teams, helping me get carpooled to races. I can’t fault the Real Federación Española  for anything.

“I think that, whatever you want to say about Contador, they stick up for their riders. Until they’re proved to be guilty.

“There are enough people who exist, as I say, to persecute the riders. I strongly believe that what they (RFEC – Bz) do is right. They stick up for their riders. I can’t speak highly enough of them.”

NOTE:
Since this interview RFEC has agreed to help James with his case – Bz.
 
Bz:

RFEC is an advocate for its riders?
 
JS:

“Specifically my interactions have been with the Catalan federation. Things have been great

“They supported Contador. I know there are cases where they haven’t supported riders. So I don’t know if this is a change of policy. I know the supported Valverde, as well.

“But even down to the fact that they make you take a physical before they give you a license, because it makes sense to check if you’re healthy before they take your money, not just take your money and watch you drop dead in a race.”

Bz:

Who was your DS at TT1?
 
JS:

“Director with the development team was Jack Seehafer. The year before that, with the elite team, it was Bob Schrank, who I cannot speak highly enough of.

“Bob is one of my best friends in the whole world. Bob is someone who I still turn to even though I’m not with TT1. If I have a problem, he’s someone I call.”

 
Bz:

So up to the DS level you felt pretty supported?
 
JS:

“Yeah, highly. They were good people, reeeeally good people.

“My father suffered some mental health issues in the past twelve months. I knew.

“I was 23, 22. You still need a father figure to look up to, and a lot of those guys on TT1 are people who I did look up to. People who I could turn to for help when I didn’t know what to do because I haven’t been alive long enough.

“Those guys who I met through TT1 were people who filled in for my dad, in a way, when my family was so far away.

“They’re good people and they’re people who have done a lot for me.”

 
Bz:

It’s rumored that treatment of riders was tiered, that those riders who won more, were treated better, given more and better food, medical supplies, shelter. Is there any accuracy to that?
 
JS:

“Ummm,  nope.

“I wasn’t living with the team. I was living by myself in California. But until the medication stopped I was receiving the same medication as everyone else. I followed two medications, the best on the market.

“There were issues with getting bikes out on time, with getting kits out on time. I wouldn’t say that was tiered treatment by any means, but I’d say it was just poor organization.”

 
Bz:

Because of your lack of medication did your own performance suffer?
 
JS:

“Oh yeah! I was creeeeping. If you don’t take your insulin for a week you’re about to go blind. You don’t take your insulin your kidneys will shut down.

“It’s not just about your performance, it’s your ability to stay alive. The insulin is absolutely integral to your survival. Without insulin the diabetic cannot survive.”

 
Bz:

How did it work, did your performance drop after they cut off the insulin? Or did they cut off the insulin when your performance dropped off?
 
JS:

“One day I just received an email saying I wasn’t going to get insulin any more.

“Pretty much I continued to use supplies that I had. I started having problems a couple months after that.

“It wasn’t just the lack of insulin it was also the stress that I was dealing with. I mean, I hadn’t been paid, I was living in my car, I didn’t know where my next meal was going to come from, I hadn’t received any race schedules.

“I think lack of insulin combined with just a ton of lifestyle issues.

“I mean, my performance wasn’t great. But, because I wasn’t racing I wasn’t resting enough. I beat shit into myself training, which was my fault.

“My performance may or may not have decreased. They would never have known, because they never took me to any races.”

“They stopped it (taking him to races – Bz) in 2011 because I never got my visa. You can’t be cycling professionally if you don’t have a visa to be a professional cyclist.”

Bz:

At what point did the insulin stop?
 
JS:

“The insulin stopped in March.”

 
Bz:

How did it work with the visa? Or how was it supposed to work? Do they typically help you get your visa?
 
JS:

“That was their obligation. I have a contract that states that they’re the employer and it’s up to them to get a visa.”

 
Bz:

How did that fall apart?
 
JS:

“I don’t know exactly what happened. But, there was a horrendous delay so that the Visa didn’t come till April.

“I was continually being told, it’ll come in five days, it’ll come in five days, it’ll come in five days.

“So, why that happened, I don’t know.”

 
Bz:

In April you finally got the visa?
 
JS:

“I was on a student visa at UCSD and I went to change to a professional athlete visa and that never came. I took a sabbatical to ride full time.

“In April the visa was approved provisionally. I then had to go back to the United Kingdom to conduct an interview and collect the visa.

“Previously TT1 had told me I’d be able to do that in the U.S., but it turned out you can’t do it in the U.S.

“So I returned April 11th, which was the last day I was legally able to remain in the U.S. on my old visa.

“I left the U.S. and came to the UK in order to pick up my visa, thinking I’d be back in a couple of weeks. so I brought one bag of clothes and my bike.

“At that point they terminated my contract.”

 

Bz:

With TT1’s connections to pharmaceutical companies, they would seem to have easier access to doping products through the back door. Were you aware of doping occurring on any level by any rider or with the knowledge or consent of any staff, management or ownership personnel? 
 
JS:

“That’s not something I want to comment on right now. I never saw anyone taking any performance enhancing substances. But I don’t want to talk about doping on TT1 at the moment if that’s ok.”

 
Bz:

I’ve heard that TT1 is being investigated for insurance fraud, were you aware of that? Have you been contacted about it? Do you have any information about it?
 
JS:

“I wasn’t aware that they were being investigated for insurance fraud.

“It upsets me to read shit about TT1, because I get angry so I try not to.

“Because, I’m torn between really resenting what they did to me, and wanting my friends to do well. And it really upsets me.

“There are individuals who I hugely resent the way they treated me. There are other individuals who are some of my best friends.

“It upsets me when I see my friends cooperating with people who I know have done such horrible things to me. So, I try to avoid any type of interactions with TT1. I just try to keep them out of my life as much as I can.”

_________–

You can also find this and future interviews, plus a lot more cycling related content, at Cyclismas.

Cyclismas.

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