Kenny Souza suspended for three years.Kenny Souza, probably the most recognizable name in the sport of Duathlon, has been suspended by Tri-Fed for three years. The suspension is retro-active to 1998. The 'crime' for which he has received this - he has been racing sanctioned duathlons since 1998 without a current license. The whole issue came to light at the Dannon duathlon in Florida earlier this year. Kenny along with 6 other athletes (including Alec Rukesov) were found to be without current licenses. The race organisation allowed Kenny to go ahead and race in the age-group division in that event, and subsequent events. After a more thorough investigation they found that he had not held a valid license since 1998.
Due to his long standing negligence on this Tri-Fed launched an investigation and last week allowed Kenny a hearing. A panel of two people and an attorney, gave him the opportunity to address the issue, and plead his case. Kenny takes full responsibility for himself and freely admits that he knew that duathlons were sanctioned events and he just never bothered to renew his license. He says that, due to the fact that he has raced only 6 times since 1998 (including winning a national championship), and that the events were not that big - no-one ever asked or checked for licenses at any of the events he had been at. In fact it has now come to light that Paul Thomas who was awarded Duathlete of the Year by Tri-Fed in 1999, did not carry a current license during his season of racing that year.
In a conversation with Kenny this morning he fully understands the position of Tri-fed and also has no issue with being 'made an example'. He is however very disappointed with the handling of his case. He had his hearing last week on Monday. All present at the hearing knew that he intended to travel to the Boston duathlon this past weekend to work (Kenny is the marketing manager for Clif Bar which has been involved and supported the Dannon series since 1998), and to participate in the age-group division. He bought his ticket and left for Boston on Friday. On Saturday he received a call from his wife in San Diego to tell him that a letter from Tri-Fed had arrived effectively banning him from the sport until May 2002. So he turned around and flew home. "I just wish they had given me a call to let me know before I got on the plane to fly across the country…they all knew I was going to Boston."
Kenny is understandably disappointed with the punishment that has been handed down. His current feeling is that the sport of duathlon needs all the help it can get at the moment. His feeling is that his punishment should in some way give back to the sport, (paying his fines and retroactive dues, being suspended for a number of events and be required to volunteer at a certain number of events whilst he sits out his suspension), rather than being told as he says 'to go away and don't come back.'
Kenny has been the biggest 'name' in duathlon and is without doubt responsible for putting it on the map from its inception. He in no way condones what he did over the past few years, and has stepped up and taken full responsibility. I have no doubt that if Tri-Fed was to launch a full scale investigation, there would be numerous cases of athletes who have been out there over the past few years racing without licenses. Unfortunately for him he was in the wrong place when the axe came down. He says that Clif Bar will continue their support of duathlon events, but he will no longer be out at the events. I am sure he will be missed, and this is yet another of those cases that make you wonder about 'the letter of the law vs the spirit of the law'.