The Leogrande/Papp Connection
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 universalsports.com 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.
VeloNews.com’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.