Cyclist Who Exposed Steroid Use in Cycling Avoids Jail

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Cyclist Joe Papp was sentenced to three years probation and six months house arrest for selling performance-enhancing drugs online to amateur and professional athletes. In February 2010, Papp pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to distribute Jintropin-brand human growth hormone (hGH) and Eposino-brand erythropoietin (EPO). He admitted to selling $80,000 worth of the PEDs between September 2006 and September 2007.

The charges stem from a raid of his house by federal agents in the fall of 2007. He had faced up to 10 years in prison. However, he provided extensive assistance to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). This could have been a factor that helped Papp avoid prison.

His cooperation directly resulted in a reduced ban for his second doping offense (i.e. drug distribution). USADA gave him an 8-year ban instead of a lifetime ban.

Papp was previously caught using anabolic steroids during a cycling competition at the 2006 Tour of Turkey in his first doping offense. He tested positive for the use of exogenous testosterone on May 7, 2006. USADA issued a two-year ban shortly after Papp testified against Floyd Landis.

Papp, acting on the incredibly bad advice of his attorney, testified at the USADA arbitration hearing that investigated Landis’ positive result for the use of testosterone. It is this testimony that incriminated him in the distribution of hGH and EPO.

Papp had no connection to Floyd Landis and no direct knowledge of Landis’ steroid use. Furthermore, Papp reportedly did not receive a reduced ban from USADA for his testimony. Nonetheless, Papp decided to testify at the hearing as a forum to provide his story as a cautionary tale of doping in cycling.

Floyd Landis’ legal team argued that anabolic steroids, specifically testosterone, had no performance-enhancing benefit in an extreme endurance sport like cycling. Papp’s testimony undermined and discredited this argument.

Papp testified to the widespread use of steroids (testosterone) in the peloton. He described how exogenous testosterone allowed cyclists to recover more rapidly during multi-stage races like the Tour de France.

Papp exposed how easily it was for cyclists to use steroids without getting caught by existing anti-doping controls. He argued how easily it was to use testosterone gels through proper timing and still have acceptable levels of testosterone that did not trigger a positive doping result.

On several occasions, Papp has acknowledged his own use of various PEDs including anabolic steroids, EPO, HGH, thyroid and amphetamines. He has been blackballed from the athletic community after his cooperation with anti-doping agencies.

His customers included approximately 187 amateur and professional athletes from a variety of sporting disciplines including cyclists, triathletes, track and field athletes and mixed martial artists (MMA). Only a handful of these athletes have been publicly identified e.g. cyclists Kayle Leogrande, Jeannie Longo and Phillip Zajicek.

 Joe Papp


Ford, B. (October 23, 2011). Joe Papp’s long and winding road. Retrieved from http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/7132452/former-cyclist-joe-papp-gets-three-years-probation-ped-case

Rosen, D. (September 4, 2007). Joe Papp: The Rant Interview. Retrieved from http://rant-your-head-off.com/WordPress/?p=367