Former professional cyclist turned drug trafficker Joe Papp has had a lifetime ban reduced to eight years for his help in various investigations into doping in cycling, the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has announced. The news coincided with Papp being sentenced to three years’ probation, including six months’ house arrest, for selling performance enhancing drugs online.
In a statement on its website, USADA said that Papp had “received a reduction to an eight-year sanction in accordance with the rules since he has provided substantial assistance to anti-doping authorities, sharing information about ongoing criminal activity as well as potential anti-doping rule violations by athletes under USADA’s jurisdiction and/or the jurisdiction of other anti-doping organizations.”
Papp’s eight-year ban started on 1 September 2007, which USADA says is “the day he accepted a provisional sanction and began providing assistance under the rules,” and now ends on 31 August 2015.
According to a report on ESPN, in a short pre-sentence statement, Papp said: "I accept responsibility for my actions, and I apologize for them."
Afterwards, he spoke to ESPN about his involvement in doping and the choice he has made to be honest about his past since being caught.
"Nothing I've done for the anti-doping movement is something I could have done if I hadn't been involved with doping in the first place," he explained.
"But since September 2007, I have not tried to cover up anything. I've been completely transparent to the degree I could, legally. It has ruined my life, and there's nothing positive or redeeming about it. I would give anything not to be in this position.
"I obviously regret all of it, and I wish I could take it all back," continued Papp, who is now jobless, living at home with his mother and getting by on handouts from his family.
Papp had initially been banned for two years in 2006 after testing positive for metabolites of testosterone during that year’s edition of the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey. His ban expired in July 2008, although he has never returned to competition.
In 2007, while still banned, Papp appeared as a witness on behalf of USADA in the arbitration hearing into Floyd Landis, who had been stripped of the Tour de France title he had won the previous year after testing positive test for elevated levels of testosterone. Papp had himself used synethetic testosterone during his career.
At that time, USADA had been unaware of the Federal investigation proceeding against Papp as a supplier of EPO and HGH, including while the Landis case was being heard, but even once the truth came out the organisation continued to tap Papp’s insight into doping within professional sport.
Travis Tygart, CEO of USADA, told ESPN: “Joe eventually did the right thing in admitting his criminal behavior and deciding to assist authorities in correcting his wrongs and ultimately helping the fight against doping in sport."
Papp himself said: "I also really regret the way I handled testifying at Floyd's arbitration. I wish I hadn't put USADA in that position."
In February 2010, Papp pleaded guilty on two counts of conspiracy to distribute performance enhancing drugs, acting as a link between a Chinese company, Shandong Kexing Bioproducts Corp, and more than 180 international athletes between 2006 and 2007.
Since then, he has also become reconciled with Landis after the latter’s belated admission of doping.
As reported on road.cc last month, Papp was said by French sports daily L’Equipe to have claimed that the former world and Olympic champion Jeannie Longo was among the athletes he had supplied.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.