By Mark Zalewski
The Morning Call of Allentown, PA reported on Wednesday that Andy Lakatosh, Marty Nothstein and Leigh Barczewski have been suspended by USA Cycling resulting from a June 10 incident during a keirin race at the Lehigh Valley Velodrome. Lakatosh reportedly grabbed Jame Carney's handlebars, causing Carney to crash following the final race of the KidsPeace Bicycle Racing League Finals. It was observed that Lakatosh's actions were retaliation for earlier actions by Carney that caused another rider, Ben Barczewski (Leigh's son), to crash.
At the time, race officials disqualified Carney and Lakatosh from the event. However, Carney filed grievances with USA Cycling against the four race officials, as well as against Ben Barczewski, his father/coach Leigh Barczewski, Marty Nothstein and Mike Grabowski. The officials, along with Nothstein, were charged with collusion for disqualifying Carney because of the crash. Nothstein serves as the velodrome's COO and Director of Cycling Operations. The charges against the officiating crew and Grabowski were eventually dismissed.
USA Cycling CEO Gerard Bisceglia told the Morning Call that Lakatosh's suspension is until January 2006 and that Ben Barczewski was issued a reprimand for a verbal confrontation with Carney. Nothstein received a two-month suspension, beginning in September, for violating USA Cycling's Code of Conduct.
"It was probably the strangest hearing we've ever had," said Sean Farrell, the technical director for USA Cycling. "I've never seen that many complaints go out at once, and all in one direction. Most of it came up as insufficient evidence. The majority of the people had their charges dismissed for lack of verifiable evidence." Lakatosh filed a grievance against Carney for physically confronting him after the initial incidents, but that charge was dismissed, according to Farrell, because of Lakatosh's prior transgression. Leigh Barczewski and Nothstein were cited for a section of the USA Cycling code of conduct that includes verbal and physical abuse.
USA Cycling investigator Randy Shafer did not review the video tape of the Ben Barczewski crash. No grievance was filed by Barczewski against Carney for that incident. "The video wasn't being used for Carney/Barczewski... as part of the investigation as to whether or not the officials' call was right that night," Farrell explained. "The video was used for Carney/Lakatosh. I think, regardless of what anyone thinks about what happened on the track with Carney/Barczewski, USA Cycling cannot let retaliation be allowed."
Shafer originally suggested a three-month suspension for Lakatosh, but Bisceglia lengthened that suspension. "I want to make sure that everyone understands that behavior of this type, to intentionally pull down a rider, is not tolerated by USA Cycling, no matter what the reason," Bisceglia said.