Webcor, a San Francisco--based cycling team, was ecstatic to sign David Clinger, a 27-year-old former U.S. Postal Service teammate of Lance Armstrong's--until they met him face-to-face. When Clinger arrived at training camp to meet team members last month, his mug was covered with a Maori-style tattoo he had picked up earlier this year in Argentina. Team management was none too pleased, telling the highly regarded road racer to lose the artwork if he wanted to ride.
Clinger says he got the tattoo, which cost $150 and took a total of 20 hours to complete, in part to relieve muscle tension in his face. He agreed to undergo laser treatment to erase the markings, but he'll keep the tattoo on his scalp, which is covered by a helmet when he rides. The removal process, which could cost several thousand dollars, will take months to complete and could keep Clinger out of action for several weeks after that. (Webcor's season began last weekend in Merced, Calif.) "We value individualism, but at the same time the team is composed of business professionals," says team general manager Ted Huang. "Our riders are role models for children, and you don't want to scare the people you're trying to be role models for." --Rebecca Sun
STEFANO PALTERA/AP (CLINGER)
Clinger can't ride for Webcor until he undergoes lengthy laser treatments to remove his tattoo.