Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Winnowing: Joe Papp

Joe Papp is an American sometime-professional cyclist who was busted for testosterone use and testified for USADA at the AAA hearing. He has openly admitted his own guilt.

When TBV invited me to share my thoughts on the puzzle that was the Landis Affair, I eagerly accepted – though weeks passed before I could finally articulate my perspective on the case.


As I said during the arbitration hearing in Malibu last May, I didn’t – and don’t – have any ill-will towards Floyd Landis. I understood how my testimony as a witness for USADA could have been perceived by Landis and his supporters, but I took the stand to share with the world my own story, and to state for the record that testosterone, along with many other drugs that wouldn’t seem ideal choices for endurance athletes, are hungrily gobbled-up by professional cyclists and used exactly as I described.

The claim that there is no “scientific” evidence to support the use of testosterone for recovery by professional cyclists during multi-day stage races is a red herring – scientists and medical professionals are ethically-prohibited from carrying out the very research studies that would be required to support or disprove the theory that Androgel® works beyond having a placebo effect. Besides, with finite resources available to support the anti-doping movement, would that research represent the best allocation of funding in pursuit of the goal of “clean-sport?” I would rather see money spent to improve the efficiency and the integrity of the testing and reporting process, to ensure that other athletes accused of doping don’t suffer the same injustice that befell Floyd.

Yes, even though he was convicted of doping, I think that the anti-doping system failed Floyd Landis.

I don’t place the blame on USADA – an agency that treated me justly and respected the basic tenets of fairness during the adjudication of my case – but rather, with the foreign parties who violated Landis’ rights as an athlete and precipitously disclosed the results of his A-sample to the media.

Floyd was criticized for his public “wiki” defense, and I think he erred tactically in some of his statements, but if parties to the case other than Landis hadn’t violated their legal and ethical obligations of confidentiality, there would have been less questioning of the integrity of the entire testing process.

The anti-doping agencies should aggressively fight cheating in sport, but in a manner that leaves no room for conspiracy theories or the challenging of test results based on gross violations of an athlete’s privacy. The laboratories charged with analyzing samples must be held to the same standards to which accused athletes are subjected, because when a process and protocols are intentionally contravened (as in the case of LNDD’s leaking Landis’s results to the media), one can reasonably question the motivation and reliability of those who should be scrupulously neutral.


Mike Solberg said...

Thanks for writing, Mr. Papp. I'm glad you feel USADA treated you fairly.

I still don't understand why a top level athlete would use banned substances when their efficacy for endurance performance is unknown, or even dubious, as I still believe is the case for testosterone in cycling. It just doesn't make sense to me that they would risk being caught when the benefit is uncertain.

But I guess I understand that it happens. It just makes no sense to me how someone can get to that level of performance and have such questionable decision making skills.


Burt Friggin' Hoovis said...

Nice post Joe.

I'd elaborate further, but I'm watching the Pens/Bruins right now.


Unknown said...

It's nice for Papp that he feels he was fairly treated by USADA. I'm quite sure Floyd was not fairly treated by USADA, Mr. Young (their hired gun), or the foreign alphabet soupers.

There are Pros and then there are pros (lower case p). Floyd is the former and Papp might even agree he was the latter? He was.

Agree about the system being corrupt/corrupted wrt Floyd.

Disagree that Papp (or LeMond for that matter) had any business testifying @ Pepperdine because niether had any direct knowledge of the facts that were in dispute. That was a calculated USADA PR ploy. Papp says USADA did not throw him under the bus. LeMond was willingly heaved there. congrats to Papp. He succeeded in getting mentioned i the same breath as Floyd and Saint Lemond, in spite of his lower case p status. Sorry you were mentioned in poor company Floyd.


JMP said...

jrd, no need to congratulate me for anything. please.

i would much rather have never been in a position to EVER be considered as a possible witness in a doping arbitration (as an athlete with some knowledge of some facet of doping), because to have been so is indicative of the colossal, epic error in judgment on my part that landed me in such company.

I would trade infamy/notoriety/15min/a blog/being a cyclingnews.com diarist/"mentioned" with Floyd/whatever for the chance to go back to 2001 and not dope, finish my master's and not destroy so many aspects of my life.

If I'd taken more than 500 words, I would have written about anti-doping education...that while focusing on the possible health risks is important, that what may also be of value is inventorying all the ways that being caught cheating will impact one's life from a practical standpoint. How it will effect employment prospects, standing in one's community, possible legal repercussions, shame cast on family, limitless stifling of what could have been unlimited opportunity, perpetual ethics-cloud, etc.

And all just to go faster on a bike... Talk about distorted calculus.

As for whether or not Floyd did what he was accused and convicted of doing, I don't know. But I have seen - with my own eyes - dozens of other (P)rofessional cyclists do the same and worse...including guys who rode the Giro, the Vuelta, the Classics, the Tour...