By Neal Rogers
Rock Racing rider Kayle Leogrande is the anonymous rider filing a lawsuit against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, charging that it planned to test his B urine sample after his A sample tested negative for performance-enhancing drugs, several sources told VeloNews Friday.
Sources with intimate knowledge of the case confirmed that Leogrande is the unnamed cyclist suing USADA, and verified that sworn affidavits have been filed with the agency as it tries to build a case against the 30-year-old rider.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that an anonymous professional cyclist had filed a lawsuit against USADA on behalf of “John Doe,” seeking an injunction to prevent the anti-doping agency from ever testing the B sample. The 25-page lawsuit, filed on January 23 in Los Angeles County Superior Court, claims that USADA originally planned to test the B sample on January 15, but backtracked after the plaintiff's attorneys demanded the agency forgo the second test.
USADA general counsel Bill Bock said Friday that agency rules prohibit him from discussing any specific open cases. He also told VeloNews that that the testing of a B sample after a negative A sample “is not prohibited, and certainly we believe it to be permissible.”
Voicemail messages left by VeloNews with both Leogrande and Rock Racing team owner Michael Ball went unreturned. A caller from Leogrande’s cell phone left a message for AP sportswriter Eddie Pells Friday evening, saying, “Lose my phone number. Don't call me again. … I don't know how you got my phone number, but lose it,” before hanging up.
The urine test in question occurred at the International Cycling Classic, also known as Superweek, where Leogrande won three events, finished second at three events and placed second overall by five points to winner Marco Rios of Kahala-LaGrange.
The lawsuit alleges that USADA notified Leogrande on November 15 that his A sample from Superweek came back negative. On November 27 VeloNews asked Ball about persistent rumors that Leogrande had tested positive at Superweek. Ball said that Leogrande had recently received a congratulatory letter from USADA informing him that he had tested negative.
Several sources have also confirmed that USADA is collecting testimony from witnesses who have alleged that Leogrande has admitted doping. Such testimony is admissable under provisions of the WADA code that allow the use of non-analytical evidence in building a case for an alleged doping violation.
The lawsuit claims that by telling race organizers and the UCLA testing lab that the plaintiff is under investigation, USADA has damaged the cyclist’s reputation and ability to compete in races and secure sponsors. Earlier this week, the Amgen Tour of California announced that it would become the first event to have the cooperation of USADA, which has agreed to inform the race organizers whether any riders on team rosters face doping inquiries.
Rock Racing has made headlines for signing former ProTour riders whose careers were marked by doping scandals, including Tyler Hamilton, Santiago Botero and Oscar Sevilla. Ball confirmed with VeloNews on January 8 that he was in discussions with suspended 2006 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis. Attorneys for Landis, Maurice Suh and Howard Jacobs, are listed as the plaintiff’s attorneys in Leogrande’s John Doe v. USADA lawsuit filed in Los Angeles.
Leogrande, the 2006 elite national criterium champion, who also runs Classic Tattoo Studio in Mailbu, California, stands out from other riders in the peloton because of his heavy tattoos and piercings. Ball suggested Leogrande’s appearance might be one reason he is being targeted.
“It’s got to be shocking to see Kayle with full sleeves,” Ball said in November. “It must be shocking to those that are conservative and don’t get it and don’t want that in this sport. Some people, for some reason, their prejudices take them to a completely different level. And because they are in power, they think they can apply that power to an individual_
“There is someone out there that has a huge hard-on for that man and is looking to take him down, for whatever reason. As far as Kayle is concerned, I will support him.”