Ex-USA Cycling racer files lawsuit against coach over alleged drug use

A former member of the U.S. junior national cycling team has filed a lawsuit claiming that he was tricked into using banned, performance-enhancing substances by his coach and trainer.

Gerrik Latta of Oregon alleges in a negligence lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Denver that he was given illegal drugs under the guise that he was receiving safe and legal vitamins.

He is suing USA Cycling, the United States Cycling Federation and his former coach and trainer for unspecified damages.

Sean Petty, USA Cycling vice president of marketing, said he had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment on it.

Latta, who began bicycle racing in 1988 when he was 16, claims that former coach Rene Wenzel instructed trainer Angus Fraser to give him several injections in England in 1990 before the World Championships.

He said Wenzel and Fraser assured him the injections were safe and legal vitamins.

Latta also received water bottles with supplements in them and a suppository, the lawsuit said.

Two other members of the four-person team that competed in 1990 World Championships — Greg Strock and Erich Kaiter — have come forward with similar allegations in lawsuits that are still pending.

John Pineau, the Denver attorney who represents all three former cyclists, said the conduct of the cycling officials may be indicative of a greater problem with athlete doping.

Bill Senter, an attorney for USA Cycling, said he hadn't seen the latest lawsuit or heard of Latta's claims. But he said the allegations made by Strock and Kaiter have been vigorously denied.

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