Thursday Updates

by Rant on December 4, 2008 · 11 comments

in Doping in Sports, Kayle Leogrande, Tour de France

The Leogrande/Papp Connection

Kayle Leogrande and Joe Papp in better times.After I read the first news stories of the Kayle Leogrande decision, banning the former Rock Racking cyclist from competition for the next two years (give or take a few days), I was a bit puzzled by some of the story. Specifically, the part of the story that concerns Joe Papp. Regular readers of this blog and followers of the Floyd Landis case will remember Joe Papp because he testified at the May 2007 Landis arbitration hearings, which were conducted at Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, California.

At the Landis hearings, Papp didn’t have any direct knowledge of what Floyd Landis was accused of doing. In the Leogrande case, however, Papp seems to have played a more central role. Photographs he took (five, two of which can be seen accompanying an article by Alan Abrahamson on the web site), and a postcard that Leogrande sent to Papp, were introduced as evidence to support USADA’s case against Leogrande.

In at least one news account, the initial version made it sound like the photographs were taken at Papp’s home, and the implication was that Papp was perhaps Leogrande’s supplier. Exactly who supplied Leogrande is unclear, from a close reading of the arbitration panel’s decision in the case. So, as I said, I was puzzled by the account, and curious as to how Joe Papp and Kayle Leogrande might know each other. No better place to go for answers than to the source, so I emailed him, not entirely sure if he’d respond or what he might be able to tell me.

The following morning, his reply was waiting in my inbox.

Exactly how does Joe Papp know Kayle Leogrande? It turns out they met in late 2005, when Papp was spending time training in California. As Papp tells me, the two cyclists spent quite a bit of time training together prior to the start of the 2006 season. That was the season Papp raced in Cuba and in Italy, and had his fateful run-in with the anti-doping system during the Tour of Turkey.

In 2007, Kayle Leogrande mentioned Joe Papp’s name to Michael Ball, the owner of Rock Racing. Papp was offered a contract to direct the team, starting with that year’s edition of the Redlands Classic. Leogrande had a good showing, winning the sprinter’s jersey and taking second place in the criterium.

Papp tells me that Rock Racing flew him out to California, covered all of his expenses during the stage race, but on the day he and team management were to finalize their contract, the deal went south. An assistant to Michael Ball called Leogrande, while he and Papp were actually driving to Los Angeles to finalize the contract. During the phone call, the assistant relayed the message that there never was a contract, and that the deal had only been for the Redlands Classic.

After the deal went bad, Papp tells me that he called Frankie Andreu, to let him know just what he might be getting himself into by working at Rock Racing.

So that’s a bit of how Kayle Leogrande and Joe Papp know each other. Now, about those photographs. I wanted to know a few things about the photos. First, when were they taken? From what Joe Papp tells me, the photographs were taken in March 2007 at Kayle Leogrande’s home. And, unlike some accounts that have been published, Papp tells me that not only were the photos taken with Leogrande’s knowlege and consent, but that Leogrande actually posed for the pictures. If you look at the pictures that accompany Alan Abrahamson’s story, they certainly look as if they’ve been posed. Especially the close-up that shows the label on the bottle.

Whose EPO was it? According to what Papp tells me, the EPO was Leogrande’s to begin with, as I noted yesterday in an update to the previous post.

One question that comes up is what Papp got from USADA in exchange for his cooperation on the Leogrande case. His answer: nothing. His two-year sanction ran out in July, so he’s been free to race since then. However, Papp says he hasn’t applied for a racing license since his ban ended and that he’s not really interested in racing. Since he hasn’t formally retired, he is still in the out-of-competition testing pool, and he tells me that he’s been tested several times during the past year.

I asked him what lessons he’s drawn from his experiences. Cycling doesn’t last forever, Papp told me, and it’s not worth compromising one’s ethics or physical health for short-term glory. The success that can be achieved through doping is illusory and temporary, he added, however, the consequences and negative impact of doping seem to be without end.

I get the impression that the full story of the Leogrande case has yet to be written, and there is much more to tell. (See Suzanne Sonye’s very brief comment to the previous post.)

One other question I asked Joe Papp was whether he was involved in any other cases. If he were involved in other cases, he replied, he wouldn’t be able to comment — in part, to avoid compromising an ongoing investigation. But also to respect the privacy and confidentiality of the accused. Will we see other cases in which Joe Papp may play a role? I honestly don’t know. All I can say is, “Time will tell.”

Note: The photo above, courtesy of Joe Papp, shows Kayle Leogrande and Papp during the 2007 Redlands Classic.

Tour de France History

Way back in April 2007, I gave the “Cliff’s Notes” version of the tale of the first-ever winner of the Tour de France to be disqualified. And, it turns out, it was the first-ever winner, during the second edition of Tour de France. As I wrote back then:

No matter the outcome of the Landis case, Floyd Landis will not be the first cyclist to be stripped of his Tour victory and title. That dubious honor belongs to Maurice Garin, as documented on the official Tour de France web site.

Although Maurice Garin technically won the race for the second year in a row, he, along with the rest of the top four, were disqualified for various infractions. As a result, little-known Henri Cornet, the fifth-place finisher, was declared the winner.

The other riders who were disqualified, from second to fourth place originally, were Lucien Pothier, César Garin, and Hippolyte Aucouturier. After an investigation by the French cycling union, the top four riders, along with all the stage winners, were disqualified in December 1904, due to rampant cheating during the race. This elevated Cornet, a 20-year-old rider who had finished the race in fifth place, to the status of Tour winner.’s Charles Pelkey (a/k/a “The Explainer”) gives a very good account of the 1904 Tour and the disqualification of not just the winner, but also the second-, third- and fourth-place finishers, too. Take a moment to read his article to get a more detailed version of what happened. Cheating at the Tour de France is as old as the Tour, itself. The methods may have changed in the last 104 years, but the temptation to take shortcuts to success seems to be just as strong now as it was then.

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tbv December 5, 2008 at 12:52 am

I’ve fiddled with some of the pieces of this puzzle over at TBV, but I can’t say it is coming together.

When was the postcard sent? Doesn’t that imply a supplier relationship?

What spooked Ball off at Redlands? Money? Some back-channel info? Results too good to be true? Personality conflict and/or bad first impressions?

And, it has to be said, how many people care about Leogrande? Aren’t we more curious to see if it leads anywhere “interesting”, or just fizzles out?

– TBV, hoping to be riding and watching racing, and away from the twilight zone.

burt.hoovis December 5, 2008 at 3:59 am

What I’m trying to figure out is what Papp’s motivation to provide evidence against Leogrande and other people is. Is he doing it because he’s compelled to as part of his deal with USADA, or is there some other reason (e.g., personal).

I’d like to think that Joe had turned some kind of corner and really trying to be “be part of the solution” but I’m also playing wait-and-see…


Paula Kirsch December 5, 2008 at 5:44 am

My question is: what is the reason/motivation behind the taking of those pictures? Seems a pretty odd thing to be shooting unless someone wants to do “something” with them at a later date. Let’s face it, those will not be posted on anyone’s Facebook page for fun.


Rant December 5, 2008 at 7:11 am

Those are questions that I’m curious about, too. I asked about the card, and haven’t gotten any real answer as to what’s going on there. It sounds like a supplier relationship, but it’s vague enough that it could have meant something else, too. Who’s the supplier and who’s the recipient here? On the surface it looks like Leogrande is paying for something. But it’s not clear, at least to me.
The Redlands thing, in Joe’s telling of the story, sounds like a number of other stories. Someone thought there was a deal, someone else says differently, and a person brought on to a certain cycling team leaves, is fired, or isn’t signed to a contract. A few people have come and gone in mysterious ways there. Not sure what to make of it beyond that.
Good question. Taking a wait and see approach is what I’m doing.
I have no idea why someone would pose for such pictures. “Here’s a pic of me holding my EPO.” Umm, that’s just setting yourself up for a fall. I can imagine taking such a picture, if I were doing a long-form photoessay on the darker side of cycling, for instance. But I’ve never understood why people allow themselves to be photographed (or easily identified parts of themselves, like tattooed arms) when they’re up to no good.
Would Tony Soprano allow a photojournalist (often referred to as a “shooter” in the trade) along on a different kind of “shoot”? I don’t think so …

Jean C December 5, 2008 at 10:29 am

For me the pictures and the postcard just show how common doping is!

It’s remember me the EPO years before festina’s affairs when riders injected PED in the team car on Vueta. Everyone can see them. Or all the empty boxes of PED abandonned in the room of riders. For them it was normal, usual.
Few things seems to have changed in that case. Or KL didn’t get the memo that period is finishing since the last years.

eightzero December 5, 2008 at 2:05 pm

I’m with TBV: I want to see all the pieces to the puzzle, but to me they don’t (yet) show a picture. The “interesting” part starts here:

“One question that comes up is what Papp got from USADA in exchange for his cooperation on the Leogrande case. His answer: nothing.”

While many wish to analyize the wisdom of KL’s actions, I don’t find that interesting at all. People do foolish things all the time. What I am more concerned about is *powerful government entities* doing foolish and inappropriate things.

Taken literally, the quote above means Joe received no promise from USADA in return for his cooperation. I believe Joe, and have no reason to doubt his veracity. (Although, I can understand some questioning the statement: “Cycling doesn’t last forever,… and it’s not worth compromising one’s ethics or physical health for short-term glory.” This appears to be exactly what Joe did in the past, but I would believe he has had a change of heart.)

But was Joe “promised” nothing from USADA, or did he in fact receive nothing from USADA? The two are not synonymous, much in the same way that Joe truely believes synthetic testerone assisted his cycling efforts in a specific way, and whether or not he did in fact receive such a benefit. The AAA panel in the FL case seems to at least given some weight to his testimony that synthetic testosterone *in fact* has a PED effect.

Again, I believe Joe when he says he received nothing. I would be curious to know how he knows that. He believes it to be true, and I respect that. I want to know it is true.

So we’re all clear on where this might lead, remember USADA is likely at best a “quasi-government entity.” The “Feds” that come up in discussion are very much a *real* government entity – that’s the DEA, with all the enforcment power of the state. The DEA are stormtroopers, folks, and the only thing restraining their power is the constitution. They have guns. They have many lawyers with extensive subpoena power. There are specially built places where they hold people convicted of acting in a way inconsistent with the rules they make. What can protect us (any of Us) from that power?

The 4th and 14th amendments. The requirement for a warrant. How to you get a warrant? “Supported by oath or affirmation.” As in “I told the USADA.” USADA may or may not be seen as a government police entity – that’s really unclear -but if not, confessions to them (including giving them samples and testimony) need not come with Miranda-type warnings. And info given to USADA can support warrant issue to DEA. USADA, may, at DEA request, promise nothing to Joe, and in fact give him nothing *for now* because they wish to use information he supplies.


Joep December 5, 2008 at 2:31 pm

In response to **eightzero**…who writes:

“Although, I can understand some questioning the statement: “Cycling doesn’t last forever,”¦ and it’s not worth compromising one’s ethics or physical health for short-term glory.” This appears to be exactly what Joe did in the past, but I would believe he has had a change of heart…”

This is becoming insufferable.

YOU can “understand some questioning the statement”?

What question needs to be raised about the statement? My response was to the interrogatory: “What lessons have you drawn from your past, including your involvement in the Leogrande case, that will or have changed how you approach cycling in the future?”

So what “question” would you understand “some”[one] asking in relation to my response? Rant asks me what lesson I drew from my past and how it changed or will change my approach to cycling in the future. I give an honest answer and yet you, eightzero [[while issuing a disclaimer that *YOU* (because you’re not like everybody else) would believe that I had “a change of heart”]] seem to imply that I’m being less than truthful in my response and that it should therefore be questioned?

Are you serious?
Would you – or the “some’s” who you refer to – feel better if you could hook me up to a lie detector while I reflect upon my life and offer philosophical musings…just to make sure that they really represent what I think?
There’s no way to appease you people. If I lie, I’m a villain. If I tell the truth I’m a villain (or at least what I say is suspect). If there is something I don’t want to discuss, I’m a villain. But I’m glad to know that YOU WOULD believe that I had a change of heart.

Rant December 5, 2008 at 2:54 pm

… [wading into a potentially messy spot] …

Just a reminder, everyone. Let’s keep it civil.

Remember that some things don’t come through as clearly in print as in face-to-face conversation. And sometimes things that appear one way in print weren’t meant the way we might take them.

… [/end wading] …

eightzero December 5, 2008 at 3:45 pm

Joe, I believe you are telling the truth. I do not believe you are lying. I do not believe you are a villian. That is my subjective belief, as I have no evidence to the contrary, and indeed for the reasons you cite. You were being open with Rant, and in the context of his post, that seems reasonably clear to me. I am not asking you to be hooked up to a lie detector. I want you to keep telling your side of the story, and what you know to be true. I appreciate your openness and candor.

OTHO, there are likely people that disagree with me. They may believe your use of PEDs in the past show a propensity to not tell the truth now. I merely acknowledge this interpretation and valid subjective evaluation. Remember, there are also many people that believe the world is flat. Please don’t criticize my acknowldgement these people exist. I meant no personal offense to you, and apologize if I was not clear.

My point of interest is that you may not be in posession of all the facts, much as you’ve told us all that we do not know the whole story. I want to know the whole story.

Joep December 5, 2008 at 8:17 pm


You write, “My point of interest is that you may not be in posession [sic] of all the facts, much as you’ve told us all that we do not know the whole story. I want to know the whole story.”

If you’re concerned that I might not be in possession of “all the facts,” and therefore might be in some kind of legal or spiritual danger, then the best way for you to help would be to send me an attorney or a priest ASAP.

But if what this is really about is your wanting to know every detail of my life as it relates to the path that brought me to where I am right now (to “know the whole story” as you describe it), then please don’t subject me to more manufactured concern and just admit that you want to know ‘the whole story’ for your own entertainment and amusement.

eightzero December 5, 2008 at 8:43 pm

Joe, I will so admit that. It is for my own interest that I inquire and speculate. I intend no ridicule or scorn. Again, if I have misspoken or have not been clear in this regard, I freely offer you what I hope you will accept as a sincere apology. My concern is for what lies ahead for us all regarding respect for due process under the law. I think it possible or even likely *none of us* have all the facts. I don’t conclude you are in any sort of danger, other than the danger we all face by the unquestioned, unaccountable actions of a powerful few that might command the awesome power of the state.

The “whole story” I seek is merely that of what our government and their agents are doing. It is not my intent to subject you to anything, other than to encourage you to share with us what you feel comfortable saying in an open forum.

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