Matt Zalaznick: So, swapping bibs is a crime? Really?
Vail, CO, Colorado
A felony for some alleged bib-swapping?
OK, some cranks say police and prosecutors should ignore small-time stuff and catch the “real criminals.” Well, the petty misdemeanors – jaywalking, littering, bootlegging a rock concert – can, as we’ve all been told, lead to more dangerous law-breaking.
But bib-swapping in a bike race? What could that be a “gateway” crime for? Lying on your Facebook status updates? Or maybe we’ve heard chatter that Taliban sleeper agents are sneaking into the homeland wearing the race bibs of traitorous mountain bike racers.
Here’s the hard-to-believe story: A Vail mountain-bike racer allegedly let a fellow Vail mountain-bike racer use her bib to compete – and finish second – in an older age group in last year’s Leadville Trail 100 race.
The 36-year-old biker allegedly in the phony bib was runner up in the 40-49 age class. I mean, that’s like Lindsey Vonn entering a downhill race for 90-year-olds, right?
Well, in the ensuing months, word of this astounding treachery got back to race organizers and the racer has allegedly confessed her misdeed and even returned the spoils of victory – not $1 million or a new Ferrari or even much fame, but just some doodads. A pin and belt buckle, to be exact.
OK, so these women cheated. They should be embarrassed. They shouldn’t ever do it again.
So, the organizers of the race handled it, right? Some other racer got the jewelry. The women were banned from this year’s race and maybe next year’s too. End of story? Right?
Really? Come on. You’re kidding.
District Attorney Mark Hurlbert has filed criminal impersonation charges against both racers. That’s a class 6 felony that could send each woman to prison – prison! – for 18 months. The district attorney, who’s also running for state Senate by the way, says it’s unlikely either woman will go to jail.
It’s likely that if the charges aren’t dropped, the women will wind up facing misdemeanors and maybe pay some fines and do some community service. But still. Gimme a break. All that still takes up way too much of the court’s time and energy. Maybe these women should volunteer on their own as a way of doing penance. Maybe they already are volunteers.
Yes, this is cheating and it’s wrong and it’s a bad example to set for our children, but it’s hardly some looming criminal epidemic. And even if mountain biker racers are now swapping bibs faster than your average Vail Valley cyclists blasts through a roundabout.
If the race organizers themselves can’t deal with a little dishonesty, then they deserve to have cheaters sullying the integrity of their races.
Of course, this all started in Leadville, where a deputy allegedly Tasered a bunch of teenagers just for kicks and the sheriff’s office arrested a firefighter responding to an emergency. But bib-swappery is not something our law enforcers should be spending even a little bit of their time (or our precious taxpayer dollars) on.
OK. I have to say it: Go punish some real criminals.
Managing Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-748-2926.