CMU fires embattled cycling coach

Fresh allegations of doping cost Crawford his job

Colorado Mesa University cycling coach Rick Crawford has been terminated after university officials learned of a new allegation that he provided performance-enhancing drugs to a cyclist in the past.

Crawford, 53, earlier this month was reprimanded by U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for his remorseful admission of doping two cyclists — Levi Leipheimer and former professional cyclist Kirk O’Bee — for three years from 1999 to 2001. Crawford was allowed to keep his position with the university with the oversight of volunteer director and former professional cyclist Scott Mercier.

Crawford also was required to provide 500 hours of community service.

However, after that story appeared, Mercier was contacted by another cyclist who claimed Crawford had provided him performance-enhancing drugs when Crawford had coached him.

“It’s really sad. It’s a sad day for Rick and for the cycling team,” Mercier said. “In light of this new information, we had to let him go.”

Mercier said the former cyclist refused to be named. Mercier also said he would not release identifying details about the cyclist coming forward with the allegation, only that he is a former cyclist Crawford had coached.

Crawford has coached several well-known cyclists including Lance Armstrong and Tom Danielson, and led Fort Lewis College’s cycling team to 10 collegiate national wins.

Mercier acknowledged this anonymous allegation is a bit unfair to Crawford.

“Based on what he’s already revealed, he’s in a losing situation,” Mercier said of Crawford. “He’s handled this with the utmost of grace.”

Crawford did not respond to an email Monday requesting comment for this story.

CMU team cycling captain Patric Rostel said team members received word of Crawford’s termination after he emailed them the news Monday.

“They are mostly disappointed in the decision,” Rostel said of his teammates’ reaction to the university’s decision. “They can see where it’s coming from. It’s a bad situation, but we have to make the best of it.”

CMU’s cycling team currently is the top-ranked team in the nation, scoring the most points so far this year in track racing and mountain biking competitions. Cyclists are readying to compete in January in cyclocross nationals.

Rostel said team members had embraced Crawford and appreciate how he helped the team succeed.

“Everybody loves him,” Rostel said.

Rostel said Crawford told team members to continue improving and not to let his termination dissuade them from improving.

Rostel will be named interim cycling coach as the team conducts a national search for a new cycling coach, Mercier said.


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