By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Greenville, SC
After winning the Mt. Washington Hillclimb last month, Tyler Hamilton said he should be selected for the U.S. World's team based upon his fitness level. Steve Johnson, CEO of USA Cycling, was observing the USPRO time trial in Greenville on Friday, and spoke to Cyclingnews about Hamilton's comments in light of UCI president Pat McQuaid's revelation that new information about Hamilton's involvement in Operacíon Puerto.
"We hear a lot of the same things, [Hamilton] making comments to people who then ask us," said Johnson. "But the reality is we have more automatics than spots, so we are waiting to hear from them to see if they have interest. Any discretionary [selections] would go to our selection committee for rider selection."
Johnson said that beyond the automatic bids, riders that wish to be considered for the team must submit a petition, which Hamilton has failed to do. "We have a very structured process for qualifying for a world championship team. Part of that involves submitting a petition if you are not an automatic, and he is not an automatic. He needed to submit a petition and we didn't receive one by our deadline of August 11."
Johnson said he has no official position on the matter, but that he would like to see the current generation of riders given a chance to compete. "It is up to the committee and not up to me or the coaching staff. I have no position. It is conceivable and [Hamilton] is eligible by virtue of the fact that his suspension ends before the event, but again we have a lot of young American riders who have been racing the past two years and have earned the opportunity to be considered. That is definitely the way we would approach it. If they are qualified I think they should get the opportunity."
While all of this is moot for Hamilton who has no petition submitted to USA Cycling, Johnson did allude to Hamilton's chances if he had filed the appropriate paperwork. "Since we haven't even received a petition at this point we wouldn't even consider him. If we did, he would be last in line."
As previously reported, USA Cycling has not received any information regarding Hamilton, new or otherwise. "I actually asked the UCI to tell me when we could expect it and they had an indeterminate answer saying, 'We are working on it, we will get to it when we get there,'" said Johnson. "As Pat McQuaid expressed they are working on the guys who are currently riding and not as concerned about the guys currently serving a suspension."
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'
April 2, 2009 - Valverde indignant over possible suspension
April 1, 2009 - Valverde: Italy requests two-year suspension
March 13, 2009 - Le Monde newspaper hit with fine over Puerto allegations
March 2, 2009 - WADA president Fahey asks for Puerto evidence
February 24, 2009 - Spanish federation seeks access to Puerto blood bags
February 20, 2009 - CONI considers Valverde case while UCI awaits verdict
February 19, 2009 - Valverde under criminal investigation
February 11, 2009 - Valverde summonsed for Operación Puerto in Italy
February 8, 2009 - Eight charged in Operación Puerto