Team Type 1 and the Electric Kool-Aid Litmus Test
an editorial follow-up by Bikezilla to his 4-part interview with James Stout
You might think that speaking to James Stout for our interview formed my opinion of Phil Southerland and Team Type 1 management. You’d be incorrect
When I first heard about James, my immediate opinion was, “Disgruntled former employee,” ”prima donna,” “crybaby.”
James is at once, mature and immature; humble and arrogant; naive and wise; grounded and flaky; stoic and a drama queen; tough and a sniveling bitch.”
What James is not, however, is a bitter former employee out to badmouth his ex-boss.
I gave James opportunity after opportunity to talk shit about Phil Southerland and Team Type 1. Not once did he take advantage of that, not even off the record.
When he discussed Phil and the team he seemed frustrated, sad, flabbergasted, regretful, but not angry.
Contrary to what I had expected, James felt and continues to feel a significant debt of gratitude toward Phil and TT1.
In fact, the one and only time that James ever seemed angry, was when he discussed the doctor who mockingly told him to “play chess.”
Almost as soon as I began my research on James Stout, I came across the account of Willem Van den Eynde, whose abuse at the hands of Southerland and Team Type 1 instantly one-upped the Stout story.
To summarize the situation, according to Van den Eynde himself, Willem was denied food and sleep, forced to sleep on the floor of Southerland’s hotel room, screamed at by Southerland for daring to momentarily place his bag on the bed in that room, berated by management for daring to train on his bike, given a diet that neither conformed to his diabetic needs nor to his needs as an athlete (putting him at risk of a hypo), was denied testing supplies by Phil Southerland though they were readily at hand (apparently Southerland laughed at him after the denial of testing supplies), was forced to pay all of his own expenses and never reimbursed.
Then I learned that WHILE James was going through his ordeal there were three other riders (at a minimum) who acknowledged they were going through similar hassles and harassments.
Every one of those other three riders is so intimidated and outright terrified of what Phil Southerland might do to them that they all refuse to discuss their time with Team Type 1.
The topper, however, the detail that pushed things over the edge in my formation of an opinion regarding Phil Southerland and Team Type 1, was hearing the rumors of an insurance fraud investigation that is ongoing in Italy.
The spread of dishonesty and corruption had become too much to overlook, or even to doubt, at least in my own mind.
From those few details that I’ve just shared came another handful of thoughts and opinions:
- If we know that just during Stout’s time with TT1 there were at least four riders all in similar circumstances, and we know that prior to that time there was at least one other, how can we not assume that there are many, many more such cases?
- Looking at the bulk of just the known cases; three of the five are so frightened of Southerland that they’ve gone into hiding and cannot bring themselves to speak of their time on TT1. Willem Van den Eynde spoke up very briefly, but has since vanished and gone silent.
- It seems that Southerland and top management at Team Type 1 are a kind of wolf pack, identifying the weak sheep, culling them from the herd and savaging them without mercy. The difference here, in my opinion, is that unlike wolves, Southerland and his crew seem to inflict their torments purely for sport.
- Worse, Southerland and his top managers choose young athletes who lack the life experience to even properly recognize what’s being done to them until it is far too late.
The only thing that set James apart from the other victims (those we know of and those we don’t), is that after a series of personal struggles, which saw him very nearly caving in to the same fear and intimidation that has muzzled all the others, he found just enough spine to step up and tell his story.
The interview that I did with James very nearly didn’t happen. Even after it was completed and written, James wanted it pulled and he see-sawed between hiding it from the world and daring to allow it to see the light of day.
Why? One can only presume that it is out of fear of Phil Southerland.
The day after Part 1 of our interview went up on Cyclismas for the first time (it was taken down for several days due to James’ concerns, then republished), Phil Southerland called James and screamed at him on the phone for 45 minutes.
If you’ve read Part 1, then you know that part of the interview is completely innocuous. There’s not one thing in there that could possibly be taken as negative regarding Phil Southerland or Team Type 1. They’re barely even mentioned.
Considering that Part 1 was completely inoffensive, then Phil could only have been in a panic about what he thought would be coming in future installments of the interview. Since nothing negative was even hinted at in Part 1, Phil must have knowledge of things that he 100% knows that he does not want released to the general public.
Phil Southerland had avoided any personal contact with James for months while James was struggling to learn what was going on and why, while James was losing his apartment, living in his car, unsure of where he would find his next meal, suffering without proper access to diabetes testing supplies and insulin. I’ve concluded that the moment Phil thought that James had found the courage to speak up in his own defense, Phil was instantly in contact in a most personal and threatening manner. To me, that speaks volumes for the character, ethics and morality of Phil Southerland.
Here are a few more details.
Immediately after Part 2 of my interview with James Stout went up, there was this comment posted to the Cyclismas site by an “AJohnson”:
How anybody could take this interview serious is beyond me. This kid has the reputation of a liar and a talentless cyclist. Plus, it sounds as if the interviewer is just trying to start a bunch of rumors about one of the few teams that is actually trying to do something good in cycling.”
First, the assessment that James is a “talentless cyclist” is something you may think is hinted at in our interview, where James tells us that he was at first on the elite team, and then on the developmental team. Except that if he were truly talentless, he would have simply been released. No team keeps on riders that cannot help the team, and no team should have to justify getting rid of a rider like that. That’s just a part of sports; if you aren’t good enough, you go home.
If James had been struggling in his performances, this is the kind of thing that would generally be known by someone who raced against James, but even more so by his coaches and teammates. But no such sentiments have been found online to back it up and no evidence nor even accusations of James presumed lack of talent were given as reasons for his release. To toss that out publicly now is disingenuous.
Second, in my researching James, I did not come across a single reference about any lack of truthfulness or integrity in him. Not one. Even afterward a Google search for “James Stout liar” brings nothing. Nothing.
Instead, what I’ve been sent since the interview started going up has been 100% in praise of James and his character, that he’s pleasant, trusted, that the information he’s shared about diabetes has allowed individuals to help themselves and to help others.
Aside from the mysterious and utterly unsupported “AJohnson” comment, not so much as a single comment, tweet or email has even hinted at James Stout lacking integrity or honesty. Not. Even. One.
The statements in the “AJohnson” comment are the types of statements that are made by disgruntled employers trying to cover their asses.
So I speculated that “AJohnson” was actually Phil Southerland himself, or else someone very close to Phil.
I discussed this with William Thacker, the publisher of Cyclismas, who checked the IP address. This is what he told me he found:
“The comment came from an ISP in Georgia, just outside Atlanta.”
The IP address has been saved, just so we can back that claim up.
Where is Team Type 1 headquartered? Atlanta, Georgia.
The day after “AJohnson” left his comment, Chris Baldwin started asking people I know about how to reach Cyclismas. He was given the editor’s email address, but has yet to contact her.
Chris Baldwin, according to the team’s website, is TT1′s PR Director for Europe. Right, he’s not a manager, he’s a PR guy, a spin doctor. That says to me that the team wants to spin the James Stout “problem” and that they feel that the interview contains things that embarrass them.
Then I have to think, “This Southerland guy seems far too much like Lance Armstrong, in all the most negative ways.”
- As with Lance, everyone who speaks out against him is a liar, bitter and jealous because they have no talent.
- As with Lance, sure he’s done a few questionable things, but you should just ignore all that because he’s really an unappreciated Man of the People, doing such good that any evil is negligible.
Phil seems to be setting himself up as a messiah figure, the savior of all those with type 1 diabetes. Much like Lance Armstrong has set himself up as the messiah figure to all those with cancer. Much like, in 1978, Jim Jones had set himself up as messiah to his followers in The People’s Temple, leading them to the tragedy in Guyana, and giving us the original reference of “drink the koolaid.”
I ask you now, can it be concluded that much like Lance Armstrong, Phil Southerland is a bully, a sociopath and a coward?
It is my fond hope that other abused riders will take courage from James Stout, and come forward to tell their stories, too.