Vail bike racers charged over alleged bib swap
VAIL, Colorado – Two mountain bike racers from Vail, Colorado are facing felony charges after one allegedly used the other’s racing bib in the Leadville 100 last year.
Wendy Lyall, 35, has been charged with criminal impersonation, a felony, in Lake County District Court. Katie Brazelton, 40, will face the same charge, said District Attorney Mark Hurlbert. Both women are from the Vail area.
Ken Chlouber, founder of the Leadville 100, said he informed law enforcement officials of the alleged swap in part to make an example of the women.
“It’s got to be made public so people know this type of complete lack of integrity will not be tolerated,” Chlouber said. “You just can’t do that. It’s cheating.”
Chlouber said he pulled some strings to get Brazelton an entry into the popular race, which occurs each August.
“Then, apparently, for whatever reason, she decided that she didn’t want to race, and Wendy Lyall raced under her name,” Chlouber said.
Lyall raced in the 40- to 49-year-old division, and placed second, earning a gold pin and a silver belt buckle, Chlouber said.
One of the women – it’s not clear which – stood on the podium and accepted prizes in front of 700 to 1,000 people, Chlouber said.
“How could they get up in front of that many people and claim the prize that they literally stole from the women that rightfully deserved it?” Chlouber said.
Chlouber said he was recently told about the alleged deception by a husband of one of the female racers who finished behind Lyall in the age group. Chlouber said the women admitted to the switch when he talked to him.
“They are very embarrassed,” Chlouber said. “But they are only embarrassed and apologetic after they got caught.”
Chlouber passed on the information to Leadville Sheriff Ed Holte.
The Class 6 felony charge could bring up to 18 months in prison for the women. But Hurlbert, whose jurisdiction also includes Eagle County, said he doubts the women will see jail time.
“We were looking at the laws, and this was the only crime that was a fit,” Hurlbert said. “That doesn’t mean they will be convicted of a felony.”
After talking with race organizers, it became clear that this type of incident was increasingly becoming a problem, Hurlbert said.
“There were people that were denied medals and a high place in the standings because these women decided to switch,” Hurlbert said.
This type of alleged deception brings up many issues of liabilities for race organizers, Chlouber said.
Lyall is schedule to make her first appearance in court May 24.
Neither Lyall nor Brazelton could be reached Monday.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.