Andrew Tilin, Local Journalist, Gets Busted for Steroids After Writing Tell-All Book

Categories: Sports
DoperNextDoor.jpg
If aging duffers want to get caught doping, they must publish books like this one.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has announced a two-year athletic competition ban for Andrew Tilin after the 46-year-old Oakland journalist and amateur cyclist released a book titled The Doper Next Door: My Strange and Scandalous Year on Performance-Enhancing Drugs.

Strange as it may seem, doping among veteran-category bicycle racers seems relatively commonplace, a former top official with USA Cycling, the sport's governing body, said in an off-record interview. That's because older athletes, with careers and families, have less time to train for greatness. They also happen to have more dough to pay for dope.

Still, it's rather difficult to get busted. Testing thousands of middle-aged athletes for dope would be prohibitively expensive and it's beyond the reach of Olympic sport federations.

So then how does an aging, middle-of-the-pack doper like this get caught?

Write a tell-all book about it.
In line with USADA protocol, Tilin's results dating back to Jan. 1, 2008, when he says he started injecting himself with steroids, will be nullified. But his dope use didn't take him that far, athletically speaking. He placed a modest seventh  at the local Mount Tamalpais Hillclimb's division for middle-aged beginners.

And that's laughable, especially for a self-described cheater: Tilin finished more than eight minutes behind the fastest open-category finisher of the 12.5-mile race.

Another strange twist: Just as Tilin, a former Business 2.0 editor who now writes for magazines, was hitting the juice, he published a June 2008 article in Outside, "Vanishing Point," profiling a confessed doper named Joe Papp.

The article's subhead turns out to have been autobiographical:

"How badly do professional cyclists want to compete in the fast and fabled pelotons of Europe? So badly that even riders without a prayer of winning big still roll with drugs, lies, and mortal danger. It's a life that can ruin more than a career. Just ask Joe Papp, an ex-pro who lives the doper's nightmare."

Fast-forward to the blurb Tilin's publisher wrote about 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.
Papp, the doping middle-of-the-pack subject of the 2008 article was seemingly scandalized by the book. In a January  2011 comment on Amazon.com, he wrote:

Wonder how aggressively USADA will come out against the author of this filth, given that he knowingly and intentionally competed in sanctioned bicycle races while using banned performance-enhancing drugs, simply because he could -- even after he'd written countless words about the dangers and moral hazard of doping.

But Papp's own story following the 2008 profile contains at least as many bizarre ironies as Tilin's.

In the 2008 article, Tilin described how Papp went from being a doping cyclist to being a prominent witness in the 2007 doping-arbitration hearing for disgraced 2006 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis. Papp's testimony -- that steroids really do help improve athletic performance, and that many cyclists use performance-enhancing drugs -- was carried by news outlets around the world.

Papp "told a level of truth under oath that no American cyclist has matched," Tilin wrote in the Outside article.

What Tilin's article didn't reveal, however, was that Papp was himself involved in performance-enhancing drug distribution during 2006 and 2007, helping facilitate the sale of sports doping products from China to 187 customers, including cyclists.

Papp now faces a possible 10-year prison sentence, and has helped the U.S. Justice Department and USADA mount cases against Papp's customers.

Did Papp drop a dime on Tilin, too?

Update 4:05 p.m.

Papp tells us that he indeed informed anti-doping authorities about Tilin's cheating after the two men discussed the issue in a phone conversation. Papp said his legal situation requires that he turn over doping information, and so he made a call to USADA not long after talking with Tilin. However, Papp said it's possible Tilin confessed before Papp placed his own call.

Notwithstanding his own history, Papp said he was bothered by what he views as cynicism behind Tilin's journalism. Tilin set out to write about duffer doping, couldn't find a culprit, so became one himself, Papp said.

"He had a preconceived notion to write a particular story," Papp said, "and so that's what he did."

Update 4:22 p.m.

We reached Tilin, who declined to comment -- an odd posture for a book author.

"That's what my publicist is telling me to do," Tilin said. "I'm not entirely clear on the logic of it, but I"m staying low on the radar."

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9 comments
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a.rider
a.rider

As a former touring, but not racing, cyclist, I found Tilin's book just what it was advertised as, an account of temporarily using himself as a guinea pig to see what doping is like. I don't see how he made the well-documented massive use of PEDs at all levels of competitive cyclying any worse.

Attorney Christopher Dort
Attorney Christopher Dort

I too was disgusted by that article. As a young racer in the 80s, I traveled to Europe and competed in several countries, but became saddened by truth when after living with a profession rider as a roommate, I realized it was a fake sport.  It was not real competition.  15 years later, after giving up the sport entirely, I returned as a Northern CA Masters rider and thought I could enjoy the sport as an old guy just for fun.  But Tilin ruined the sport for me forever. I'm sickened by the loss really.  I fell in love with the idea of cycling as an honorable competitive sport at a young ave.  Now it sickens me to watch the tour de france. I want my freaking entry fees back.

Joe Papp
Joe Papp

Tilin's Fraud: one of the most despicable aspects of Andrew Tilin's doping is that it resulted, in part, from his desire to write about amateur, "non-elite" (ie, not professional) cyclists who dope(d). And when he couldn't find any to write about, rather than just reporting that fact and giving cycling a moment's respite from the oppression of relentlessly-negative, suspicious and dismissive media coverage (by actually communicating an example to the world of a journalist who went looking for dirty cyclists and instead found clean athletes who competed for their love of sport), Tilin pressed ahead with his plans by...doping himself. Is it any wonder that the world has become cynical about cycling and doping?

Roadkill
Roadkill

I find it sad that cycling has such a bad reputation concerning doping. While there is a problem with doping in my much loved sport, we are the only game in town actually doing anything about it. Since Tom Simpsons death in the 1968 Tour de France, cycling has actually bothered to take a stance and test atheletes. I only wonder how well the WADA would be received by the National Football League. Baseball suspends players for a few games for a first violation and there never seems to be a second. Basketball never even gets tested. Even European Soccer never seems to turn up dopers. The simple reason those atheletes never get caught is because the never get tested. Cycling should be help up as a positive example of the fight. And you, Joe Papp, just add to the problems.

Joe Papp
Joe Papp

Jerry/Roadkill, I definitely added to the problem, but I don't agree with your implication that talking about it now makes it into more of a problem. I do agree with what you write about the contrast b/w cycling's testing regime and every other sport, and I support your position - that the doping that one suspects is taking place in the big-money sports goes undetected (or at least unreported) b/c it's not in the economic interests of the stakeholders in those games at the pro level to take an aggressive stance against doping. I don't think it's much of a stretch to argue that whatever additional testing and sanctioning taking place in those sports is the minimum that the leagues think they can get away with and not attract the wrath of the media (to a lesser degree) or government (to a much greater degree). Where cycling fails is the continued use of performance enhancing drugs by top riders even five years after Puerto. The culture is changing but it's not changing quickly enough for cycling to avoid the role of media whipping-boy. I doped and I helped others to dope, and I regret that, but rest assured that given a do-over, knowing what I know now I would never have become involved. But w/o that luxury, I think it's still reasonable to attempt to transform what is otherwise a life-destroying misstep (mine) into an organic and evolving learning opportunity + to warn-off others and continue to press the authorities to avoid complacency. At the time, doping seemed to make sense and my involvement was an almost natural evolution from my experience racing at the int'l level. Now, of course, it's something that has brought me to the very precipice of failed-existence itself and left me struggling just to survive. But pro cycling will continue as long as people are realistic and clear-headed about what's required for success in the sport, and hysterics don't come to govern the discussion about doping (which I think is what you object to in the first place). Cheers.

mk
mk

As I see it, one of the main problems with the doping culture is that successful amateur racers who may be doping continue to be revered by the cycling community, because the doping problem has yet to reach a tipping point (significant crisis brought on by ill health effects of long term doping regimens?  a trend toward honesty and fair play after a few decades of rampant cheating in our culture at large?) where the dopers can be easily exposed.  Papp, you seem to imply cycling's innocence simply because Tilin couldn't find anyone to come clean, but the simple fact is that almost no one talks, and you know it.  As long as the ruse can be perpetuated with this type of "omerta," the problem will likely get worse before it gets better.  I could be totally wrong here, but I imagine you have a lot more information about doping and dopers than you were forced to divulge in a court of law.  The reason "negative, suspicious and dismissive media" exists is because people like you who are privy to the details that riddle the dirty underbelly of our beloved sport remain largely reticent, which allows the problems to persist, which will continue to reflect negatively on the sport until somehow things change.  But maybe they won't.

Gary
Gary

Or maybe he didn't find anyone because no one would confess to their doping.

mk
mk

What's despicable to me is that there are apparently a whole hell of a lot of amateurs (and low-cat at that) doping to somehow make themselves feel better, so I assume it's happening on my local circuit. I don't care how Tilin--or you (Papp) for that matter--comes up with the information, but if it's the truth, it's a good thing because it will shed some light on the surreptitious cheating that seems to be rampant in this misguided culture of ours.

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