Leogrande suspended for 2 years – a closer look at the timeline (updated)

Posted on 03. Dec, 2008 by in news

As was reported in cyclingnews and velonews, Kayle Leogrande received a two-year suspension following hearing on Monday. A three-person AAA/CAS arbitration panel ruled unanimously in a 15-page decision that Leogrande had used the blood booster EPO.

The panel ruled that Leogrande’s “clear and repeated admissions of doping, which in and of themselves may be sufficient to establish an anti-doping rule violation, are corroborated by a significant amount of circumstantial as well as scientific evidence.”

The two key witnesses against Leogrande were Suzanne Sonye and Frankie Andreu who both worked for Rock Racing in 2007. In a sworn affidavit filed with USADA, Sonye alleged that Leogrande told her that he had used testosterone gel, taken EPO and put soap on his wrist prior to July 26 doping control to mess up the results.

USADA also provided photos of Leogrande holding some synthetic EPO vials which Leogrande testified were taken at Joe Papp‘s house, along with a UPS notecard with the following note in what appeared to the panel to be Leogrande’s handwriting: “Joe, 2 boxes G. 100 iu; 7 boxes E. 60,000; $500. I owed you! Thanks, Kayle”.  (or were the photos taken at Leogrande’s house – see updated below)

Leogrande denied the allegations, testifying he did not soap his wrist prior to providing his urine sample, and that never admitted to doping to Sonye nor to Andreu. Leogrande told Velonews that he felt USADA had targeted him, and that a suspension was a foregone conclusion.

Let’s take a closer look at the timeline using the AAA/CAS decision and other documents:

The players:
Frankie Andreu: retired pro-rider, DS with Rock Racing in 2007
Michael Ball: owner of the Rock Racing team
Matt Decanio: former professional that admitted to using EPO during the 2003 season. He has a controversial website against doping in cycling.
Kayle Leogrande: 31-year professional cyclist on the Rock Racing team in 2006 & 2007.
Joe Papp: USADA witness in last year’s public case against Floyd Landis. In that case, Papp said he was a drug cheat and testified about the ways synthetic testosterone helped him recover.
Jordan Schware: mechanic with Rock Racing in 2007
Suzanne Sonye : soigneur with the Rock Racing team starting in 2007, former professional cyclist who rode with the women’s Saturn team

updated:  Just how did Papp and Leogrande know each other? According to Papp, via rant your head off, the two met in late 2005 when Papp spent some time training in California. Roll forwards to 2007, when Papp (recommended by Leogrande) was offered a contract to direct the Rock Racing team, starting with Redlands Classic, where Leogrande had a good showing, winning the sprinter’s jersey and taking second place in the criterium. However, after the race the deal went sour and Papp was not offered the DS job.  According to Papp, while  Leogrande claimed that photos in question were taken at Papp’s residence, but Papp claims that the photos were actually taken by Papp at Leogrande’s residence with his consent.

The events:

20 September 2006: UCLA lab reports A sample taken in August as positive (1)
3 October 2006: UCLA lab reports 20 September B sample as borderline for the presence of EPO (1)
3 January 2007: 20 September sample ultimately declared as negative in letter from USADA (1)
13 July 2007: SuperWeek starts in Wisconsin.
week of July 15 2007: Leogrande asks Sonye if she knew where to obtain testoterone patches during in a conversation in her hotel room at the Milwaukee EconoLodge. Leogrande told her that he had used testosterone gel but wanted patches, Sonye replied that she did not know but maybe they could be bought in Mexico. (1)
20 July 2007: Leogrande wins Green Lake Criterium (10)
21 July 2007: Leogrande finishes second at Carl Zach Cycling Classic presented by Couri Insurance Agency (10)
23 July 2007: Leogrande wins Pharma Pacific Tour of Holy Hill (10)
24 July 2007: Leogrande finishes fourth at WDSC Cedarburg Cycling Classic presented by Time Warner Cable (10)
26 July 2007: Leogrande finishes second at PCW Cycling Heritage Square Classic Criterium (10) and is selected for a drug test after race held in Sheboygan. Doping chaperone allowed Leogrande to pee at his request in the parking lot. After the sample was provided. Leogrande and chaperone filled out a form identifying the parking lot stop as this is not allowed. Leogrande also lists having taken albuterol on his doping form. (1)
27 July 2007: Leogrande tells Sonye that he was nervous and had not slept well the night before because of the doing control test. When asked why, Leogrande then told Sonye that he had taken Vicadin, Ventalin and EPO. During this conversation, he placed his hand as if holding a syringe and pretended to stick a needed into his arm. When Sonye told him that he would test positive, he explained that he had put soap on his wrist prior to entering the doping control station and that while giving his sample, he put some of the soap into the stream of his urine, thinking the soap would “fuck up the test”. During this conversation, Leogrande also told Sonye that his mother had previously taken EPO under doctor’s orders, that his mother knew that he had used EPO and that she had told him to stop taking it. (1)
28 July 2007:
Sonye went to the mechanic on site, Schware and told him what Leogrande had said. When asked for advide, Schware suggested that she call DS Andreu and inform him of the admission. Using Schware’s cell phone, Sonye called Andreu who was in France. Andreu understood SOnye to be calling him asking for direction about what to do with the information Leogrande had told her. Andreu told Sonye that she had done the right thing by telling him and stated that he would take care of it. (1)
Leogrande wins The Columbia St. Mary’s Great Downer Avenue Bike Race (10).

Leogrande provides urine for doping control. The samples were not reported positive. Leogrande also lists having taken albuterol on his control form  (1)

29 July 2009:
Leogrande finishes second at Whitefish Bay Classic, and finished second overall at SuperWeek (10)

Leogrande received a massage from Sonye during which he told her that he did not want his career to end with a positive test to which Sonye responded that there was a good chance that the drug test he took would come back positive. Later, Leogrande called Sonye and told her that he really respected her and understood that she was doing her job which Sonye took to mean that Leogrande had been informed that she had told team management of his admissions. (1)

Fall 2007: On his return to the USA, Andreu had a short cell phone conversation with Leogrande during which he told him that Sonye had told him what happened at SuperWeek and asked Leogrande: “what the hell was he thinking?” Andreu has no doubt in his mind that Leogrande told Sonye he had used EPO during SuperWeek. After the call with Leogrande, Andreu had multiple conversations with members of management at Rock Racing and recommended that Leogrande be terminated based on his admissions of doping. A decision was made to suspend Leogrande from racing for two weeks after which he was restored to race with the team. Note that timeframe is not precise (1)
August 2007: Sonye called USADA some time before the end of August to report Leogrande’s admission of doping. (1)
1 September 2007: Cyclingnews publishes interview with Andreu where he states that “he is looking forward to next year because we are growing and looking to be more competitive in all different types of races.” (2)
28 September 2007: Leogrande finishes fourth at USA Crits Finals in Las Vegas (16)
27 October 2007: Sonye spoke by telephone to DiCanio where without her knowledge, DiCanio recorded the conversation. She told him that Leogrande had admitted to doping to her.  DiCanio posted the conversation to his  website. (1)
13 December 2007: When asked about a rumor that Leogrande tested positive at SuperWeek, Ball tells Velonews: “Absolutely not. This is all horrible rumor. Kayle just received his “Congratulations, you are negative” letter from USADA. It’s just bullshit. Someone is out there trying to get him, and I will take it to the mat, dude, let me tell you.” (7)
3 January 2008: Citing differences “with business strategies and the direction the team is headed,” Andreu announces to velonews the termination of his contract with Rock Racing. (8)
6 January 2008: Rock Racing announced 2008 roster which includes Leogrande. (3)
26 January 2008: AP reported on Friday that an unnamed cyclist ‘John Doe’ filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court seeking an injunction to prevent USADA from testing a backup urine sample the agency took during the 2006 racing season even though, as the suit claims, the A sample for the rider returned a negative result. (4)
27 January 2008: ‘John Doe’ is identified as Kayle Leogrande (5)
January 2008: Sonye resigns from Rock Racing (9)
13 June 2008: Leogrande finishes sixth in Stage 4 of Nature Valley Grand Prix (14)
6 August 2008: Leogrande sues Sonye and DiCanio for slander over the illegally taped phone conversation. In response Sonye’s attorney filed a motion to strike. (11)
16 August 2008: Leogrande finishes second at Pro-Am 1/2 International Challenge (15)
17 August 2008: Leogrande finishes sixth at USPro Criterium Championships, racing for Rock Racing (13)
20 August 2008: Sonye wins motions against Leogrande lawsuit (12)
17-18 November 2008:
During hearing, panel heard testimony from Sonye, Andreu and Schware (1)
USADA also provided photos of Leogrande holding some synthetic EPO vials which Leogrande testified were taken at Papp’s house, along with a UPS notecard with the following note in what appeared to the panel to be Leogrande’s handwriting: “Joe, 2 boxes G. 100 iu; 7 boxes E. 60,000; $500. I owed you! Thanks, Kayle”. (1) (6)
Papp’s cell phone records showed 274 telephone calls and text messages with Leogrande between July 2006 and July 2007. (1)

Dr Christiane Ayotte, Director of the WADA lab in Montreal reviewed 4 urine samples provided by Leogrande on August 20, 2006, April 1, 2007, July 26, 2007 and July 28, 2007. After discarding the fourth sample as a too faint profile, Ayotte concluded that the 3 samples reflected the administration of recombinant EPO. (1)

17 November 2008: Rock Racing announces 2009 roster which does not include Leogrande
01 December 2008: Leogrande receives two-year suspension following hearing (1)

The outcome: The AAA/CAS panel sanctioned Leogrande for the maximum period of ineligibility of two years commencing on the date of its decision, December 1, 2008, through November 30, 2010. In addition, all competitive results obtained during SuperWeek (The Point Premium Root Beer International Cycling Classic) and all subsequent results obtained the through the date of this decision, December 1, 2008, shall be disqualified.

Following the decision, Michael Ball issued the following statement:
“Whenever a rider is suspended – be it for doping or any disciplinary issue – it brings negative attention to the sport that so many of us are working hard to cast in a positive light.”

“In Kayle’s case, knowing that several of the sport’s governing bodies were also conducting their own investigations, we felt it was not appropriate to prevent him from racing until a verdict was reached. USA Cycling and the UCI did not deny him the right to race. Rock Racing absolutely and unequivocally does not condone doping, but we do respect due process.”

“The decision to not re-sign Kayle for the 2009 season had nothing to do with this case. It was based on performance.”

(1): Kayle Leogrande 15-page decision
(2): An interview with Frankie Andreu, September 1, 2007
(3): First Edition Cycling News, January 6, 2008
(4): First Edition Cycling News, January 26, 2008 and Leogrande said to be ‘John Doe’ suing USADA
(5): First Edition Cycling News, January 27, 2008
(6): Leogrande doping case proof of cultural shift
(7): Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood: Rock Racing’s fiery team owner sounds off
(8): Andreu leaves Rock Racing
(9): Soigneur: Leogrande confessed to me last summer
(10): SuperWeek results 2007
(11): First Edition Cycling News, August 6, 2008
(12): First Edition Cycling News, August 21, 2008
and Judge dismisses suit against Sonye
(13): Race 5 – August 17: USPRO National Criterium Championships
(14): Stage 4 NVGP Results
(15): Race 2 – August 16: Men’s Pro-am 1/2 International Challenge,
(16): USA Crits Finals – NE

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5 Responses to “Leogrande suspended for 2 years – a closer look at the timeline (updated)”

  1. Anonymous

    03. Dec, 2008

    I find it interesting that Cyclingnews left out the following from its article quoting Michael Ball’s statement:

    “Rock Racing absolutely and unequivocally does not condone doping, but we do respect due process.”

    Decide for yourself, but it would appear Cyclingnews has an ax to grind with Rock Racing by not publishing the statement in its entirety:

    Thanks for giving us the unbiased view, Lyne.

  2. Nikki

    04. Dec, 2008

    Thanks for the outline of events Lyne. Lot’s of work putting together all that and it’s appreciated.

  3. Anonymous

    05. Dec, 2008

    Papp was Leogrande’s “coach” and the
    DS for rock racing for Sea Otter 2007 (2006?) also.

  4. Anonymous

    05. Dec, 2008

    Papp was:

    1. Leogrande’s competitor
    2. Leogrande’s coach in some capacity
    3. Rock Racing’s director at the 2007 Redlands stage race (he also says he’d been asked to work as one of the team directors for the entire 2007 season).

  5. daniel m (a/k/a Rant)

    05. Jan, 2009

    A belated thanks for the link. Most appreciated.