I wish I didn’t care about all the doping in SoCal masters racing, but I do. With regard to races that I actually enter, I can put it out of my mind thanks to the advice of a fellow leaky prostate masters profamateur, who wisely said this: “If you can’t race your bike without wondering who’s on drugs, this isn’t the sport for you.”
The team of Kayle LeoGrande, the guy whose doping shenanigans arguably opened the door for the fall of the House of Lance by going after immortal badass Suzanne Sonye, Kayle LeoGrande, the freakshop who “won” a national crit title from Steve Tilford in 2012 and later zoomed to a masters crit title amid shouts of “Boo!” and “Doper!”, announced yesterday that Kayle was leaving the team due to [insert surprisey-face emoticon] a USADA doping test result.
Kayle got busted again? Hard to say for sure because shortly after their Facebag page blew up, the team deleted all the comments and even the team page. A quick check of USADA’s sanctions page shows no positive test results for the esteemed Mr. LeoGrande. Hopefully it was all just a mistake and he’s been reinstated with his national champion’s clothing, pro bike & wheels, and his customary cheering section.
But if it’s true, well, too bad, so sad.
When Kayle joined up with Team Surf City Cyclery there was a lot of outcry, but not from me, as the team voted to “give him a second chance” and added him to the roster. I thought then and still do that after you’ve served your time you should be allowed to race. That’s what the rules provide for, and masters doping isn’t first degree murder. Whether I’d want this unrepentant cheater on my team is another story. But if those guys on Team Surf City wanted to throw in their lot with a doper thug, that was on them. Now every single rider in that outfit gets to explain how they’re clean and it was only Kayle and no one had any idea and blah, blah, blah. As my grandpa used to say, if you lie down with pigs you’re going to smell like shit.
My problem is that I really do want to support bike racing and see it thrive, but at the same time I’m repulsed by the cheats. Whether it’s Thorfinn Sassquatch or Richard Meeker or now Kayle LeoGrande, these clowns make it such an uphill battle. Ironically, they don’t make it difficult for me; I’ve known about doping in the amateur ranks since I was offered my first syringe in 1986. But they make it so hard for me to recommend the sport, to encourage others to participate in it, and to back it financially.
And can anyone really be surprised that there is doping among — gasp — SoCal masters racers? After all, Kayle wasn’t simply busted for doping back in 2008. The arbitration panel’s careful legal language suggested that they found him to be a thoroughly unconvincing, pathetic liar. Check out these choice bits from the ruling in 2008:
- He [Leogrande] misrepresented his use of an inhaler by initially calling it a puffer. When realizing the inconsistency with the doping control forms, he then went on to claim he had no idea of the contents of the inhaler, but trusted the doctor who had prescribed it.
- Respondent [Leogrande] had numerous communications with Joe Papp during the one year period from July 2006 to July 2007. Respondent testified that Papp stored EPO at his home, thus it is very certain that he was in a position to have knowledge of EPO and the ability to obtain it. This close relationship with Papp, combined with the UPS note card, which does appear to be a receipt for E. (EPO) and G. (Human Growth Hormone) addressed to “Joe”, and which was signed by “Kayle”, which Leogrande denies was his signature, calls his credibility into question. For Respondent to disavow any knowledge of this card is unconvincing. The signature, in addition to being that of his unusual first name, looks to this Panel, to include the same script features as Respondent’s distinctive signature on the doping control forms.
- Respondent’s [Leogrande’s] lack of denial or outrage when he spoke to Andreu, under either Respondent’s or Andreu’s version of the telephone call, is persuasive of his having used the Prohibited Substances (EPO, albuterol and testosterone) he was being punished for/accused of taking in that conversation.
- Respondent [Leogrande] did not recall important events and conversations when it would have been very helpful for him to do so. Thus, he had no credible explanation for the conversations recalled clearly by Sonye and Andreu.
Whatever you pretend to be, don’t pretend to be surprised that a lying doper who was busted in 2008 might have returned to the sport and continued to lie and dope, and don’t be surprised as you read through the 2008 decision that the same ill thought processes might still be alive and well in the mind of this truly disturbed dude. This is a guy who lied, cheated, admitted to using banned drugs, and then had the nerve to sue for defamation the very person to whom he’d made the confession.
This isn’t some poor slob who was choking down tainted meat, or some up-and-coming kid who chose the needle over an unemployment line, it was a deliberate, calculating, corrupt liar whose first line of defense was to wreck the lives of those who dared tell the truth. On the bright side, it’s awesome to note in the arbitration decision against Kayle in 2008, that in Paragraph 65 it says that despite the fact that Suzanne Sonye had everything to lose by going against this doping doper who dopes, “nevertheless she persisted.”
Hahahahahaha! Warren & Sonye in ’20!
And of course those who doubted that it was a new, improved, Kleen Kayle needed to look no farther than the famous Visalia punch-em-up, where Kayle exhibited violent behavior that looked less like a mature man and more like someone mentally overcooked on the fumes of ‘roid rage. With an apology and a bit of contrition his team let bygones be bygones. “Let Kayle be Kayle” they said, or some other such flibberflabber which everyone else interpreted as teamspeak for “STFU, dude wins races so IDGAF.”
But anyway, here’s what I know about watching Kayle race as a “reformed” ex-doper masters racer who was “given a second chance”: He was really good and one of the fastest in a crit but he wasn’t all that great. Because so many people dope now, there aren’t enough drugs in China for a saggy old fart like Kayle such that it will put him orders of magnitude above the drug-addled grandpa peloton. He won, but so did others. The Pollyannas pointed to that as evidence of a Kleen Kayle and a level playing field, but there’s a much worse explanation, which is that doping is now the norm because it has dripped down through the I.V. to the very lowest, contemptible, and delusional level of the sport: Middling masters racers.
How do I know? Because I’ve sat in a field as recently as this year and watched Kayle singe the nuthairs off of a 60-strong peloton, only to get brought back again and again and again. In the last race we did together I wound up off the front late in the race with him and it was like sitting behind a Ducati. “Just hold on,” he said as I bent over the bars trying to get small and looking like a giraffe on a barstool while he generated some impossible wattage, but not impossible enough that the peloton didn’t peg him back.
I slunk to the back, charred to the bone by my three-minute effort of sitting on, while Kayle took a breath, attacked again with two laps to go, and soloed for the win. Just another SoCal Sunday crit, dude.
And how doped was the peloton at Dana Point Grand Prix, where Kayle won his (hopefully) last race ever? According to one friend, it was the fastest race he’d done his entire life. To me this was just more evidence of what I’ve maintained for years: Doping in masters racing isn’t necessarily predominant at the top, but it’s absolutely predominant in the middle.
Nor is this bizarre level of speed and strength limited to the “young” masters racers. I’ve personally witnessed one old hack go from backass straggler to on-the-point hammerhead in a single season with no visible change at all to his physiognomy. I guess he just woke up in January and decided he would pedal harder than he had been for the last five years.
It’s the mid-level hacker with a zero percentage risk of getting caught who turns these mass-crit fields into NASCAR, because so many guys now are good for at least one 1200-watt effort, and where even if you’re doing drugs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it’s still not enough to reliably seal the deal as Meeker used to do almost every single time regardless of whether it was a hilly road race, a crit, a time trail, a sprunt … a whatever. USADA and USAC, far from having frightened masters racers into clean racing, have to reckon instead with the tidal wave reality that every year the dopers increase even as the number of racers evaporates.
And who’s quitting? The clean ones. There is a handful of also-rans on the SoCal masters circuit, guys who do everything right and who have all the right physiology, who can’t seem to close the deal on the big day because no matter how hard they train, you can’t out-train chemistry. And what about the ones who have no chance of winning and, more and more, who no longer have a faint chance of even finishing? Who remains under conditions like that? I’ll tell you who: The pathetic old meatbags like Dopey McDopester who are willing to pay good money to chase a tainted result, and the pack fodder frauds who lie to themselves that their testosterone and anti-aging supplements aren’t for bike racing but for their personal health needs.
Like Richard Meeker, this reprehensible SoCal crit cheat will go away and discover hiking, open a juice bar, devote more time to his family, find some part of his glory hole that hasn’t been inked, or *MAYBE* become a USAC-licensed coach for the seven juniors left in the state of California. Maybe he’ll even man up like Levi and start a famous grand fondue, or really serve the public like Jonathan Vaughters and start his own professional race team. But what he will not have left in his wake is destruction, ruined dreams, or shattered lives.
Because at this late stage in the autopsy if you still think it’s a clean sport with only the occasional random cheat, you’re almost as deluded as the cheaters.
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