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The most visible and influential American criterium team will no longer attend the series that has defined American crits for nearly fifteen years after L39ION of Los Angeles announced via Twitter that it will “no longer be participating in USA Crits races or events.”
Behind L39ION’s somewhat cryptic Tweet are concerns regarding USA Crits’ longtime managing director Scott Morris, who is currently serving a ban imposed by SafeSport, an independent non-profit that was set up under the United States’ Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017. Morris was also indicted in 2008 for possession of child pornography.
The 2008 indictments are related to L39ION’s decision to remove itself from the series, though.
“We had heard some rumors and started looking into it for ourselves,” said Reed McCalvin, L39ION’s director of finance and culture, via a brief phone call with CyclingTips. “As a result, we’re not comfortable supporting USA Crits into the future.”
UCI development team Aevelo was quick to follow suit.
After learning what @USACRITS deems permissible amongst its organization and staff, our decision to omit their events from our racing calendar has been cemented.— Aevolo Cycling (@Aevolo_Cycling) October 16, 2021
The precise nature of the SafeSport complaint has not been released and SafeSport did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Morris’ SafeSport ban began on September 14.
Run by Swagger LLC, USA Crits is a private entity that organizes a collection of independent criteriums across the United States into a series, all of its races sanctioned by USA Cycling. As a contractor for Swagger LLC, Morris was the managing director of USA Crits through the 2021 season, but has since been removed from the USA Crits website. He has also been dismissed from the company.
Multiple USA Crits teams contacted by CyclingTips indicated they had not been informed of Morris’ ban by USA Crits. L39ION currently sits in third overall in the D1 USA Crits team standings, and is also hosting its own criterium, unaffiliated with USA Crits, at the end of October.
In November of 2008, Morris was indicted for 45 counts of sexual exploitation of children after movies and images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct were discovered on his computer. Prior to those indictments, Morris was on bond and house arrest for 20 counts of the same charge after images were found on a laptop he used while director of the Halifax County Industrial Authority in Virginia. All exploitation charges were eventually abandoned and Morris was convicted of computer services theft, which is not a sex crime.