Justin Williams (L39ION of Los Angeles) and Michael Hernandez (Best Buddies) have been suspended from competition for five and three months by USA Cycling for their fist fight at the Salt Lake Criterium last month. Hernandez’s teammate Robert Sierra was also suspended for one month for his involvement in the altercation.
Immediately following the Salt Lake Criterium on July 16, part of the American Criterium Cup series, Hernandez confronted Cory Williams (L39ION) and accused him of intentionally riding him into a curb on the final lap of the race. Justin Williams came to his brother/teammate’s defense, and soon shoving and punches broke out, and both the L39ion and Best Buddies teams became involved.
After the brawl, race officials disqualified and fined Hernandez and Justin Williams $500 each for their involvement, and USA Cycling opened an investigation into the incident. Sierra was not fined for the incident. Hernandez and Williams both later apologized for the incident.
After interviewing all three riders and witnesses and reviewing videos of the confrontation, the USA Cycling investigator determined that Williams, Hernandez, and Sierra all violated USA Cycling rules prohibiting acts of violence among riders and unsportsmanlike conduct.
All three riders were notified of the decision back on July 25, and were offered reduced sentences on condition that they accept the results of the investigation and also served community service.
The Best Buddies riders accepted the offer, with Hernandez receiving a reduced three-month suspension with 16 hours of community service, and Sierra receiving a reduced one-month suspension with 8 hours of community service. The Best Buddies team had previously handed Hernandez a two-race suspension shortly after the altercation.
“I accept USA Cycling’s 3-month suspension from competition,” Hernandez wrote in an Instagram post on July 26. “During this time, I will work with USA Cycling and the American Criterium Cup to find paths to improve American crit racing so incidents like this do not occur again.”