A former member of the British special forces who smashed the Guinness World Record for cycling the length of the Americas and made it back to the UK in time to attend the wedding of his friend Prince Harry has rejected allegations of cheating.
Dean Stott, aged 41, had originally aimed to ride the Pan American Highway from Argentina to Alaska in 110 days and thereby shave a week off the previous record.
During his journey, however, he learnt of the invitation to the Royal Wedding at Windsor Castle in May and upped his pace to complete the 14,000-mile ride in a new record time of 99 days 12 hours and 56 minutes.
However, Mail Online reports that it has now been claimed that he used fake documents to help ease his support team’s passage across borders and that, contrary to the rules for the record, used two bikes – one suited for flatter terrain, the other for climbing.
According to the newspaper, the allegations have been made by a solicitor working for some of Stott’s support crew who left the record bid in Mexico to return to the UK after their relationship with him was said to have broken down.
The solicitor, Simon Fagan, said: “The trip was organised by Mr Stott, his wife Alana and close friends.
“It would appear that during the expedition they facilitated or instructed other team members to create documents needed to bring equipment and machinery across borders to prevent the challenge being delayed.
“The actions of parties working with or for Mr Stott put our clients' welfare at risk.”
He added: “Had they been caught with illegal papers, they would have been arrested and almost certainly imprisoned.”
The volunteer support team members, who say they are owed a total of £120,000 in expenses, include paramedic Paul Lawrenson.
He commented: “We were working for free and felt exploited as none of us were getting any media exposure. It was all just about Dean.”
Stott, who served in the Special Boat Squadron, told the newspaper that while documents had been “copied and pasted” during the challenge, they were concerned only with support vehicles.
He insisted it was “incorrect and misleading” that it had helped his record attempt.
“It is disappointing the huge positives that have come out of this are being overshadowed by unfounded claims,” he added.
His challenge has raised close to £1 million for the mental health charity Heads Together set up by Prince Harry and his brother, the Duke of Cambridge.
Stott himself suffered from mental health issues after a knee injury sustained in a parachuting accident forced him to give up his military career.
He met Prince Harry when the pair were on a six-week military training course together in 2007 and the pair have worked on a number of fundraising efforts for a variety of charities over the years.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.