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 andFast-forward to the blurb Tilin's publisher wrote about The Doper Next Door.
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."
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.