Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Joe Papp, Andrew Tilin, and Iconoclasts

Yesterday Joe Papp contributed to our discussion on drug testing, saying the following:

"One thing you might consider doing, which doesn't cost anything but a phone call, is to reach out to USADA with any concrete evidence you have of another athlete's doping, or even well-founded suspicion. They are in a position to analyze the information and decide to pursue it with targeted testing, if warranted, that comes out of their budget. Clearly this is only viable if you actually have reason to believe that one of your competitors is really doping."

If you don't know anything about Joe, check out this raw interview:

Joe Papp Interview from Phil Anderson on Vimeo.

Clearly (and hopefully) this guy knows way the hell more about this subject than us, and I hope MABRA organizers take his advice before moving forward with the drug testing proposal.

Joe faces sentencing in May of this year, and will probably serve time for selling controlled substances. While I abhor the use and sale of dangerous drugs (just don't touch my booze and caffeine), I find it hard to believe our justice system can't come up with a better way of extracting retribution or recompense from those who do what Joe did.

Let's be clear about what's going on: Joe's going to jail for circumventing drug companies and the American Medical Association--in economic terms a cartel of doctors and businessmen making a killing on their monopoly of certain substances. Joe's crime was a crime against America's business interests; his offense against us cyclists was in contributing to the erosion of the sport of cycling. Which is reprehensible.

Still, it's weird to me is how we willfully ignore what Joe has revealed. He testifies against dopers and doping, explaining the extent and use of the drugs that drive our heroes. It would have been fine if Joe was just another doper; we'd have forgiven and forgotten his sins, as we have of O'Bee, Zirbel, David Millar, Basso, and so on. Papp, like Floyd, didn't just admit guilt and become a software salesman. No, he spoke up, and, since no one seems to be really listening to him, he continuously attacks our monstres sacrés, our gods above reproach.

For your average fred with his Livestrong bracelet and yellow Trek and aunt with cancer, this means that Joe Papp is on the side of...
... cancer;
...small dreams and those who deny miracles. (Lance, on the Tour podium in 2005: "Finally, the last thing I’ll say to the people who don’t believe in cycling, the cynics and the sceptics: I'm sorry for you. I’m sorry that you can’t dream big. I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles. But this is one hell of a race.")
....and those who like it in the rear! (Lance on-stage at the ESPYs to Jake Gyllenhal: "Jake, why are you sitting in the front? I thought you liked it in the rear.")

Joe and Floyd have defaced our gods, and for this they must be banished.

Meanwhile, we get guys like Andrew Tilin, in 2006, at least, a Cat 4 cyclist and writer who puts out the occasional piece for the New York Times, Outside Magazine, and Wired. Tilin has written a book called "The Doper Next Door: My Strange and Scandalous Year on Performance Enhancing Drugs." I haven't read the book, and I can't find any reviews of it. I don't want to read the book, but I assume it will have stories of the awesome power derived from substances, and then a little moralizing which justifies the experiment for the sake of human knowledge and making a poor writer some cash.

Andrew Tilin, Cat 4 and author

In 2008, Tilin wrote a slightly unfavorable profile on Papp for Outside Magazine. In the article he questions Joe's motives and fails to address the obvious--that Joe's testimony damns pro cycling.

So, Tilin damns Joe in 2008, and sometime between then and January of 2011 he conducts his experiment of a year on PEDs. He races while on drugs (see Tilin's race results here) writes a book about it and releases it in January of 2011.

Here's what the Amazon blurb says:

"What happens to a regular guy who dopes? Surprised to learn that pro athletes aren't the only ones taking performance-enhancing substances, journalist Andrew Tilin goes in search of the average juicing Joe, hoping to find a few things out: Why would normal people take these substances? Where do folks get them? Does the stuff really work?

But these controversial drugs often silence their users, and so his queries might have gone unanswered had Tilin not looked in the mirror and succumbed to curiosity. Soon wielding syringes, this forty-something husband and father of two children becomes the doper next door.

During his yearlong odyssey, Tilin is transformed. He becomes stronger, hornier, and aggressive. He wades into a subculture of doping physicians, real estate agents, and aging women who believe that Tilin’s type of legal “hormone replacement therapy” is the key to staying young—and he often agrees. He also lives with the price paid for renewed vitality, worrying about his health, marriage, and cheating ways as an amateur bike racer. And all along the way, he tells us what doping is really like—empowering and scary."

Tilin when he decided to dope was a cat 4, a father, and well into mid-life. Unlike Papp, Tilin was driven by curiosity and the desire to write a book--one of the recent trend of "do-something-for-a-year-and-write-a-tell-all" book.

For doping, Joe will go to prison and Tilin is still up on USAC cycling results, he gets a nice book advance, and everyone loves him. Readers will probably give him props for his Timothy Leary-esque sacrifice in the name of science and humanity and all that crap.

How messed up is that?

Maybe Joe's an a-hole, but the guy's going to prison, and that's provoked, in my opinion, some raw, honest and profound ideas from him. It gives him some kind of credibility, like a man standing at the gallows. It's the same thing with Floyd.

Yeah, they crushed our idols, but that's because we worshipped false gods. Let them crumble.

And let's do what Joe and Floyd can no longer do: take pride in our clean riding, slow as we may be. Schadenfreude often comes off as cruel, taking joy from others suffering, but in this case, I think it's the gift they want us to have.


TheJerkbeast said...

There's another article available online from Outside magazine regarding self-testing with PEDs.

It's an interesting read.

Ti( * )( * )ies said...

Looking at Tilin's lackluster results (having not read the book and knowing nothing of his training or fitness) it seems like his time/money would have been better spent riding/training more.

qualia said...

Shocking, depressing interview.

About Tilin... for most readers of this blog, if doping didn't vault Tilin onto the podium in Pro/1/2 races, then maybe it's no big deal. No big deal, because you'd still kick his 45-year old hypocritical ass, clean.

But take someone like me, who sucks at bicycle racing exactly as much as pre-drug Tilin, and yet for some inexplicable reason, loves it too, and suffers from persistent delusional fantasies about improvement, performance, etc. Even though I've haven't finished on the podium, in any category, and doping in the peleton is far, far down my list of obstacles, it still pisses me off that cheaters might make the difference of top ten for me, in a shitty 4 race, or might break my elastic in a 3/4 or masters event, or outsprint me.

Tilin's confession is not of the O.J., "If I did it" variety. Strip his ass of those lousy results and ban him from the sport. The least we can do is add insult to injury ( I mean, profit, sorry).

JMP said...

Thanks for taking the time and putting the effort into writing one of the fairer op-eds on my involvement in doping. Jut as an FYI, Tilin's book hasn't been published yet - I believe it's scheduled for June. The irony of what he wrote about me, and what then he himself did and wrote about, isn't lost on this kid.