There has been a lot of hearsay and what not all over the internet, surrounding this incident that occurred during practice at the Enduro World Series in Crankworx, Whistler. But here we have the facts that currently stand. Any updates and we’ll update this post.

Initial reports surfaced that Barel had been caught shuttling during practice and received a 5 minute penalty, which left him unable to race the event competitively (he would have placed 3rd had it not been for the penalty). The Director of the Enduro World Series, Chris Ball released this statement:

Following a number of requests for information surrounding the five minute penalty issued to Fabien Barel in Crankworx Whistler we would like to clarify the situation. To avoid riders gaining an unfair advantage and to maintain the spirit of the race on the long liaison stages in the Whistler valley, Crankworx created a rule that outlined no outside assistance (including using a vehicle to assist) would be allowed during the event. This rule was further explained and clarified in a mandatory athlete’s breakfast scheduled on Friday morning and hosted by the Crankworx Whistler organisers. Riders who chose not to attend this briefing missed crucial information regarding course changes, details of shuttling and race specific information. We are not responsible for educating riders who choose to miss planned briefings. Following the submission of evidence by a number of sources and a discussion with Fabien where he cooperated fully, admitted to a lack of knowledge of the rule due to team communications and an admission of his use of a vehicle, the organisation chose to apply a five minute penalty to his race time, removing any advantage that may have been gained from his use of the vehicle. We are all now looking forward to an incredible race here tomorrow.

This immediately caused an outcry from ‘internet warriors’ claiming Barel was a cheat. But as always there is two sides to every story, the discrepancy seems to lie with the misunderstanding of the term ‘shuttling’. Fabien was under the impression that he was allowed to drive his car down the highway to the bottom of the tracks, as he wasn’t using it to take him to the top of the hill. Although he does accept that he did unknowingly break the rules.

Whilst Fabien admits to all the allegations he was faced with, he does not feel the penalty he was faced with was fair, because lots other riders were doing the same thing as Fabien, were caught, but faced no penalty. He feels that he has been made an example of because he is one of the top riders in the series.

This is the official response to the situation from the Canyon team and Fabien himself...

Unfortunately a misunderstanding between Canyon's team management and the race organisers around the rules applied during the trainings brought Fabien in an arguing situation after he was issued a 5 minute penalty. The definition of shuttling in during the training period (Friday and Saturday) has not been properly defined in writing to everyone and the Organisation considered shuttling as driving around the valley. Few riders have been reported as doing so, and even one rider has been caught directly by Crankworx management and sent back the village (without consequences). Fabien did not feel the situation was handled properly by the organisation as there was a lack of definition and no proof beside Fabien's forthcoming honesty on the fact that there was a lack of clarity in the rules applied.

"I have been honest and clearly mentioned to the Organisation that I did drive 1.5km from my apartment down to creek side with my car on the highway 99. At first, I did accept the facts especially if it was a misunderstanding from my team manager but then I realised that the case of many other riders had been simply overlooked. There is no written rule about shuttling or driving around anywhere from the organisation and there is no way to shuttle up the stages in whistler as they are in the middle of the mountain." Fabien says. "The EWS is a new series that is building its professionalism and ruling event by event. I have been the first one to help developing it to keep the spirit of enduro and the fair play for all riders. I just feel that Organisation has taken me as example to create fear with the others of what could happen but I do not agree with this type of procedure!"

Despite all of this Fabien still ended with the following statement...

"I still really enjoyed the weekend and the Organisation has been doing a great job on the course. The loop was a real enduro."

So what do you lot make of all this? I actually think it was only a matter of time before something like this happened because there do seem to be a fair few grey areas when it comes to enduro racing, and as much as I dislike the UCI and their millions of rules (which are pretty much spelt out in black and white) it does seem that sometimes you need to make sure that you have set rules, and they're made clear. I am sure that this is just part of the learning curve for the EWS though, and apart from this one slight glitch it has so far been an overwhelming success in my eyes. Long may it continue...