While one-fourth of the homes in the United States utilize a septic system for their plumbing and sewage disposal needs, a Swiss cycling team had other intentions.
Instead, the team, who was riding through outer-LA for the Tour of California, found septic tanks and dumped human waste all over the highway.
The prank was first caught by spectator Ryan Patrick Early, who saw a gaggle of men wearing cycling suits dump piles of sewage all along the sides of Highway 330 in Big Bear Lake. Located about two hours outside of Los Angeles, this area is just one of the stops on the grueling Tour of California bike race route.
Early saw that the team first dumped the sewage and then tried to hide their actions by spraying water over the area, the Washington Post reports. He caught everything on camera and can be heard telling the men on the video,
“Way to ruin the environment. This is what we get when you guys come to Big Bear for the race. … Team 154 dumping their septic tank — I’ve informed the CHP.”
Once the California Highway Patrol showed up on the scene, a hazmat crew started cleaning up the area immediately. CHP called Tour of California organizers, who suspended the Swiss team from the race on the spot and sent them home. This happened during the middle of the race, so the team was unable to finish.
Michael Roth, a spokesman for Tour of California, released a statement saying that the organization has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to defaming areas around the route. He pointed out that since cyclists often fall off their bikes during the race, the presence of sewage could be especially harmful to the athletes.
Additionally, Roth mentioned that the tour group will be contacting the UCI, the world’s cycling governing body to inquire on how to further punish the Swiss team.
A few days later, amidst this scandal, New Zealander George Bennet won the Tour of California.