Feb 17, 2010 – Former professional cyclist Joe Papp has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute performance enhancing drugs, including Human Growth Hormone and EPO, at a time when he was offering information against other athletes suspected of doping violations.
Papp was originally suspended from competition for two years after testing positive for synthetic testosterone following a race in Turkey.
In 2007 he came into the public spotlight when he testified at the suspension hearing of Floyd Landis, testifying that doping was widely used among cyclists and that synthetic testosterone can help athletes recover quicker from competition.
Papp told VeloNews on Wednesday that his guilty plea should not cast any doubt on the testimony he offered in the Landis case.
“The matter for which I publicly acknowledged my guilt today in Pittsburgh had nothing to do with my appearance at the Landis hearing. I didn’t testify against Floyd Landis in that hearing,” Papp noted. “My testimony was about my own personal experiences with the drug testosterone and how it is generally perceived within the peloton. That was it. I told the story of how testosterone works and can help you as a cyclist by enhancing recovery.”
Papp pleaded guilty in a Pennsylvania federal court to conspiracy to sell HGH and EPO over the internet. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary McKeen Houghton told the Associated Press that Papp earned more than $80,000 selling the drugs to 187 customers, including cyclists and other athletes. The customers were not named.
Papp’s original suspension was the direct result of his positive doping test. A guilty plea to conspiracy charges could subject him to additional penalties and a life-time ban from sport.
Papp has, however, quite publicly cooperated with officials from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, both testifying in the Landis case and in the non-analytic doping case against former Rock Racing rider Kayle Leogrande.
“What happened today has its origins in a very distant time and place, during a part of my life that long ago closed,” Papp said. “It’s unfortunate in a way, the timing of this announcement, since its somewhat out-of-context and not representative of the person who I’ve become. Having escaped a corrupt system in which doping was a practice as accepted and normal as brushing one’s teeth, I strongly believe in clean sport and for several years have been fighting against doping both publicly and in ways that I simply can’t comment on.
“I wish I could, though,” Papp added. “I’d like to help everyone to understand the enormity of the efforts being made to rid sport of drugs, but prudence and good legal sense dictate that I don’t. Nevertheless, this is certainly not an excuse for behavior I previously engaged-in, and so I acknowledged my guilt for past actions and continue to do my part to ensure that young cyclists aren’t led into those situations where they find themselves choosing between a needle or their conscience.”
Papp said he was unsure whether USADA officials would consider pursuing additional charges as a result of his guilty plea.
“I have a very good relationship with USADA, but they are really the only ones who can answer that question,” said Papp.
2007: Interview with Joe Papp
2007: Papp suspended
2004: Papp wins GMSR stage