The mountain bike community was shaken yesterday and this morning after learning that former world champion Missy "the Missile" Giove was arrested on federal drug charges following a large-scale drug bust near Albany, New York. According to several published reports, Giove was charged Tuesday with conspiring to possess and distribute nearly 400 pounds of marijuana.
The 37-year-old Giove and two others were taken into custody after police followed a truck and trailer she was driving to the residence of Eric Canori, 30, of Wilton, New York. Police reportedly seized 220 pounds of marijuana from the trailer and another 150 pounds from Canori's home, where they also found more than $1 million in cash hidden in a closet and in the basement.
"She'd always been a type-A extreme-case shredder with everything she did, from biking to life in general," said former Volvo-Cannondale DH race technician Doug Dalton, who wrenched for Giove from 1998 to 2000 on the World Cup circuit. "They didn't call her 'The Missile' for nothing."
According to Associated Press reports, DEA spokeswoman Erin Mulvey said that authorities learned of Giove and Canori's plans last weekend after Illinois state police pulled over a woman driving a truck trailer with about 220 pounds of marijuana. Giove, according to those reports, later picked up that truck outside of Albany, New York, and drove it to Canori's home in the nearby town of Wilton. Police made the arrests of Giove, Canori and Tamara Geagley in nearby Saratoga Springs.
If convicted, Giove faces between 10 and 40 years in prison. Already in custody, she is scheduled to have a detention hearing today.
This isn't Giove's first encounter with the law. The notoriously rebellious rider says she has been arrested at least four times previously. Once for reportedly "borrowing" a police officer's cap and "accidentally" hitting another with a skateboard. As a child, she was repeatedly expelled from grammar school for fighting. "My parents realized early I wasn't the type of child they could control," Giove once told People magazine.
During downhill racing's halcyon years of big-budget race teams, six-figure contracts and international fame, Giove stood out for her brash, aggressive style and willingness to let it all hang out. And when she crashed, she crashed hard, breaking more than 30 bones during her career. She famously wore a dead piranha around her neck, and rode with the ashes of deceased pets tucked into her sports bra. While shocking, Giove's style propelled her to 14 NORBA downhill titles and 11 World Cup victories, including the 1994 Downhill World Championships.
"It's a shame to hear," said Foes Racing owner Brent Foes, whose team Giove raced for following her stint with Volvo-Cannondale. "I think she could have had a future in the bike industry, working with some companies, promoting product. When she was around, people knew it. When we had her on the team, it definitely gave us some notoriety. She was good for the sport, gave it some flavor."
Indeed, Giove's notoriety helped her--and the sport--gain international attention. Giove parlayed her racing career into a guest host spot for MTV and appearances on the David Letterman show. She also started an organization called Team Amazon to help young urban female racers compete in an equipment-dependent sport.
Giove's notoriety, it appears, was even known by DEA Special Agent John Gilbride, who, according to a story in the New York Daily News, regrettably quipped that “Drug trafficking can lead you downhill fast.”