Kayle Leogrande filed suit against USADA in January seeking an injunction to prevent the agency from testing his backup urine sample after the original 'A' sample was ruled negative because of a technicality.
USADA scrapped plans to test the backup sample, and the lawsuit was later dismissed. But the agency continued with the doping case and wound up with a "non-analytical positive" — proof of doping through witnesses, documentation and other evidence.
The three-person arbitration panel ruled unanimously in a 15-page decision that Leogrande had used the blood booster EPO. The 31-year-old cyclist's two-year ban began Monday.
"It's another case where athletes are coming forward and relying on us to take their evidence to help the playing field," USADA chief executive officer Travis Tygart said.
The two key witnesses against Leogrande were Suzanne Sonye and Frankie Andreu. Both worked for Rock Racing, the team Leogrande raced for in 2007. Sonye was a soigneur responsible for providing physical therapy, food and logistics for the cyclists and Andreu, a former rider, was an administrator.
Leogrande's samples were taken during the International Cycling Classic in July 2007, where Leogrande won three events, finished second at three more and finished second overall at the event, also known as Superweek.
Though his 'A' sample was ruled negative because of a technicality, a panel ruled testimony from Sonye and Andreu, along with other evidence, was convincing enough to prove doping. Sonye testified that Leogrande told her he had used EPO and she told Andreu. As the news spread through the team, there was a debate about whether to fire him or suspend him. Eventually, Leogrande was suspended for two weeks.
"No one within Rock Racing management questioned whether he'd used EPO," the decision read. "The only debate was what to do about it."
Other evidence in the case included pictures of Leogrande holding EPO vials that [**LEOGRANDE CLAIMED] were taken at the home of cyclist Joe Papp and a letter that read: "Joe, 2 boxes G. 100 iu; 7 boxes E. 60,000; $500. I owed you! Thanks, Kayle."
USADA also introduced Papp's cell phone records that showed 274 calls and text messages to Leogrande during a 12-month period ending in July 2007.
Papp was a 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.
Papp received a two-year ban for doping, the customary penalty for a first-time drug offender.
Trust but Verify coverage.
**Note that it is only Leogrande who claims that photos in question were taken at Papp's residence. Photos were actually taken by Papp at Leogrande's residence with his consent.
Leogrande has never been to Papp's home in Pennsylvania...