USA Cycling Announces Results of Investigation from Altercation at Salt Lake City Criterium


Justin Williams

Hernandez, Sierra, and Williams were suspended after the altercation at the end of the Pro Men’s race at the event.

USA Cycling announced today the investigation results following the altercation at the Salt Lake Criterium, which occurred on July 16, 2022. As a result of the investigation, Michael Hernandez  (Best Buddies), Robert Sierra (Best Buddies), and Justin Williams (L39ION of Los Angeles) all received suspensions.

After the race, USA Cycling immediately began an investigation of the incident, interviewing all three riders. The investigator also reviewed videos of the confrontation and interviewed other witnesses. As a result, the investigator found that all three riders violated USA Cycling rules prohibiting acts of violence among riders and unsportsmanlike conduct.

USA Cycling notified the offending riders of the investigation results and subsequent suspensions on July 25. All three riders were offered reduced sentences if they accepted the investigation results and subsequent suspension and served community service in conjunction with those suspensions. Hernandez and Sierra accepted USA Cycling’s offer, with Sierra accepting a one-month suspension with eight hours of community service, and Hernandez accepting a three-month suspension with sixteen hours of community service. Williams requested a hearing as allowed by USA Cycling’s Policy III. A three-member panel heard Williams’ case and upheld the suspension. Williams then accepted the initial five-month suspension recommended by the investigator beginning on July 25.

Race Contact and a Fight Ensues

In the final lap, Michael Hernandez (Best Buddies) made contact with Cory Williams (L39ION of Los Angeles) out of a left hand turn.

Cory Williams wrote on his Instagram,”Last night at the SLC crit, a rider with a history of aggression towards L39ION made an incredibly dangerous move, diving into turn one and hooking my elbow; causing my front wheel to skip and my foot to come out of my pedals. As I was falling over from the impact, I collided with said rider. Moments later, we took 1-2-3-4-5 in the race respectively. The rider who collided with me was waiting to confront us at the finish line, openly sharing with our staff that he was “going to fight me”. What should have been a moment of celebration, and could have been an opportunity for him to apologize and move on, turned into us responding to his uncontrolled aggression and resulting in us defending ourselves.” 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Cory Williams (@nationsnumber1beast)

As Cory Williams, tried to stay upright on the right side of the road, he shouldered Hernandez and went across the road to the curb on his left.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by The Original Crit Drama (@critdrama)

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Dustin B. (@dash_dustin)

Hernandez sat up and did not contest the sprint. L39ION went on to capture the top 5 places.

After the race, a heated Hernandez confronted Cory Williams. Words were said and then unfortunately a fight broke out as Cory Williams brother Justin Williams (L39ION of Los Angeles) stepped in to show support. Then things went from bad to worse quickly as fists flew and cycling shoes slipped as the podium presentations were getting ready to take place in front of race fans and the Salt Lake City community.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Dustin B. (@dash_dustin)

As a result, Michael Hernandez (Best Buddies), Robert Sierra (Best Buddies), and Justin Williams (L39ION of Los Angeles) all received suspensions for their part in the fight after a USAC investigator found that all three riders violated USA Cycling rules prohibiting acts of violence among riders and unsportsmanlike conduct.

USA Cycling has zero tolerance regarding violence, instigation of violence, and bullying. The behavior at the Salt Lake City Criterium is inexcusable,” said Brendan Quirk, CEO & President of USA Cycling. “We are working with the race organizers of the American Criterium Cup to increase our scrutiny of rider behavior in the peloton, including the use of video replay officials at the event. And while this will allow us to better identify dirty riding in real time, this doesn’t replace the need for riders to show basic respect for each other.

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