Travis Tygart death threat man sentenced
USADA chief says Floridian urologist wanted to “nail me to a tree and skin me alive”
A man from Florida who sent a violently aggressive email threatening the life of the CEO of the U.S Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), Travis Tygart, has been sentenced to three years' probation, 540 hours of community service and a $5,000 fine.
Retired urologist Gerrit Keats, 72, sent a six-paragraph email to the head of USADA after his involvement in the indictment of Lance Armstrong in 2012. The Floridian pleaded guilty to a federal violation of interstate communications law last year, and was sentenced on Thursday.
Keats’ claims to have no memory of writing the email with the subject line “Nazi tragic Tygart” despite admitting to sending it. The email contained racist innuendo, and threats to Tygart’s life and the safety of his children.
Surprisingly, in a letter of apology to Tygart, the 72 year old claimed that he wasn’t interested in cycling, despite sending the threatening email on 24 October 2012, two weeks after USADA announced details of their investigation into Armstrong’s years of organised doping.
Keats wrote in his letter: "I hardly knew of Mr. Armstrong, know nothing about bike racing and personally dislike biking. Why I was so upset and vehement, I have yet to truly understand."
Tygart’s troubles have not been isolated to the incident involving Keats. During the Armstrong investigation Tygart received three death threats, and had to take out personal security at his home in order to keep his family safe.
The threats were not only directed at him, but also at his staff. He acknowledged, in an interview with L’Équipe in 2012, the lengths that USADA go to keep their offices secure. The interview was translated here.
In court on Thursday Tygart read a statement in which he accepted Keats' apology. He also highlighted the shocking nature of the email as well as the safety concerns that he mentioned to L’Équipe in 2012.
"No employer should have to hold an emergency staff meeting to put its staff on notice that it has received specific and credible death threats against it," Tygart said in his statement. "No staff should have to hear that vile threats from someone like Dr. Keats have been sent through life-threatening emails shockingly describing how he wants to nail me to a tree and skin me alive while I watch my staff and children being castrated, among other heinous acts."
Tygart went on to try and siphon some of the blame onto Armstrong’s PR team.
"I do not know for certain that their intent was to elicit [Keats'] threat through their phony media ploys, however, they did shamelessly and recklessly light the match that incited him to act on his anger and threaten the lives of innocent people," Tygart's statement read.
George Tragos, Keats’ lawyer, blamed the actions of the retired doctor on stress, claiming that he sent the email while caring full time for his mother-in-law, who was suffering from dementia.
Another man who pleaded guilty to threatening Tygart’s life, Robert Hutchins, 60, is to be sentenced in February.