Andrew Tilin, Local Journalist, Gets Busted for Steroids After Writing Tell-All Book
|If aging duffers want to get caught doping, they must publish books like this one.|
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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