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Cyclist Receives Her Due

November 10, 2008

An Olympic mountain biker from West Virginia recently won a $319,000 settlement in U.S. District Court in Wheeling after being kept off the 2004 U.S. Olympic team.

Susan Haywood, a resident of Davis, W.Va., in Tucker County, has been ranked as high as second in the world for women's professional mountain biking, said her attorney William Wilmoth of Wheeling. She was selected for the 2004 Olympic team, but was later taken off in a controversy involving disputed points that determined what mountain biker went to the Olympics.

Wilmoth said the USA Cycling organization in Colorado Springs, Colo., is the entity responsible for the sanctioning of the U.S. mountain bike team. The organization's role is to keep track of the points the cyclists earn in competitions throughout the world, and to report them to the Cycliste Internationale that oversees the sport.

It also sets the criteria for determining Olympic participation based on the numbers, he said. In 2003, Haywood participated in a race in Sand Point, Idaho, for which she earned points that weren't reported by USA Cycling, Wilmoth said.

Without these points, Haywood was ranked second in the country in the sport behind Mary McConneloug of California.

It initially was thought that two women would be picked for the team, but in the end the U.S. was given only one spot in the Olympics in women's mountain biking. USA Cycling caught its error, re-added the totals, and informed Haywood she made the team, Wilmoth said.

McConneloug then filed an arbitration case with the U.S. Olympic Committee, which she won. Haywood then filed the federal suit against USA Cycling for costing her the Olympic position.

In a summary judgment last week, U.S. District Court Judge John Preston Bailey ruled in Haywood's favor, determining that USA Cycling had been negligent in not correctly reporting the points she earned to international officials.

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