Wednesday, April 28, 2010

UPDATED: Levi Leipheimer Tested Positive for Doping in 1996

Though seemingly a topic that is intentionally avoided by the US cycling media, America's own Levi Leipheimer tested positive for doping once, during the 1996 US Amateur National Criterium Championship. Leipheimer, now a key member with Lance Armstrong of Radio Shack, was caught for doping with ephedrine. But until now, a cursory Google search would turn-up nothing on Leipheimer's doping past - even as his pseudo-U23 teammate Taylor Phinney tries to harangue recent Liège-Bastogne-Liège-winner Alexandre Vinokourov:


Either Young Phinney (aka "His Twitterness..."), whose father was said by Eddie Borysewicz to possess strong legs but also weak eyes, has bought into the Lance Armstrong-school of strategic communications, or he's simply ignorant of his pseudo-teammate's doping past, and will soon explain to us why he is not tweeting "Doper!" about Vino' AND Levi. After all, Taylor himself says, "Did I say anything bad about Astana? I don't care who anyone rides for...I just don't like cheaters."

While Pappillon is but a modest effort to blog, report about, and opine on all-things-cycling, we will go ahead and post the full text of the USA Cycling Levi Leipheimer is a Doper Press Release from 1996, so that others may find it and draw their own conclusions:

"A USA Cycling disciplinary panel recommended that Levi Leipheimer receive a three-month suspension as a result of a violation of Bylaw N., Section 2, Part 4, Prohibited Practices, stemming from competition at the USCF Amateur Men's Criterium Championship, Aug. 18 in Grandview Heights, Ohio. That recommendation has been upheld by Lisa Voight, USA Cycling executive director. The 23-year- old Leipheimer will be required to return his national championship jersey, medal and prize money. He will also be suspended from the U.S. National Team for the same period. The decision is subject to appeal."

UPDATE(1): Link to original article appearing in the Salt Lake Tribute after LL's win, here.  

Mention of Honor
Date: September 24, 1996

"Salt Lake resident Levi Leipheimer, who rides for Team Einstein, won the Frigidaire National Criterium Championship, Aug. 18 near Columbus, Ohio. ``I got away very early and my [Einstein] teammates were back in the group. With eight laps to go, six riders joined our group of five. One rider lapped the field, then I attacked. My teammates got me through the race pack and then I beat Matt Johnson [of Seattle] in the sprint,''said Leipheimer, 22, the son of Butte, Mont.,..."

Author: Salt Lake Tribune
Page: B2
Word Count: 277
Publication: Salt Lake Tribune, The (UT)


And who was Matt Johnson? The 1992 US Junior National Champion, that's who! Check out his profile at the CyclingArchives.com, here!

UPDATE(2): May 21, 2010 - Though it hardly seems like the number one issue we're facing in cycling today, I'd be remiss if I didn't share with you all the fact that USA Cycling did not wish to officially confirm the original sanction against Leipheimer, let alone provide any details. They were both polite and practical in their deflection of my request, suggesting I get the records from Levi himself (or at least obtain a release from him), but disingenuous nonetheless. At the same time, with hindsight it's apparent that they were taking no chances of exposing themselves to any potential liability, or adding one more branch to the firestorm of scandal that was about to explode onto page one of sports sections across the world with Floyd's emails. As far as I'm concerned, the myth suggested by some that Levi didn't really test positive because there were no Internet archives from 1996 that reported the fact is fully busted. Even the emails from USA Cycling acknowledge the existence of records that would need to be searched for in their archive...



From: Smith, Andrea
Sent: Monday, May 03, 2010 5:47 PM
To: Joe Papp
Subject: RE: Levi Leipheimer 1996 doping suspension confirmation

Hi Joe-
   We have changed legal counsel and moved offices in the many years since 1996, so we do not have any records on site. In any event, if we are able to locate any archives we would need Leipheimer’s express permission to share information. Before we undertake the effort necessary to search for these records it would make your (and our) task easier if you could get the records directly from him or at least get a release from Mr. Leipheimer.
Thanks.

  -Andrea

From: Joe Papp
Sent: Friday, April 30, 2010 1:35 PM
To: Smith, Andrea
Subject: RE: Levi Leipheimer 1996 doping suspension confirmation

Thanks, Andrea. I appreciate your looking into this. I’d also like to know if the suspension was appealed, and if so, whether or not it was upheld, modified, rejected, etc. and who was named national criterium champion in L.L.’s place.

Best,

Joe

From: Smith, Andrea 
Sent: Friday, April 30, 2010 3:09 PM
To: Joe Papp
Cc: Kahn, Keri
Subject: RE: Levi Leipheimer 1996 doping suspension confirmation

Hi Joe-
  That was quite a while ago. I’ll see if I can look into it and let you know.

  -Andrea


UPDATE(3): May 23, 2010 - Link to Winning Magazine's publication of the original sanction announcement can be found here. Below is a screen-shot of that page, if you don't want to wait for it to load.

45 comments:

  1. Let Levi ride!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Let Vino ride!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Interesting. Do you know exactly what he failed for? At least Taylor is taking a stand. LA is pretty much silent on doping unless he's denying that he's done it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. According to the report it was for ephedrine,a stimulant very useful in crits!! Taylor is taking a blinkered stand though. Either hate all dopers or none at all, picking and choosing them seems a bit hypocritical doesn't it?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Once a. Doper always a doper, maybe just smarter as you would put it
    If you're into doping. If you don't make the cut forget it. Plenty of racers should not be in the peleton. Life is full of choices. Htfu

    ReplyDelete
  6. Pretty sad if u require more juice than the length of the race!!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Well he DID ride for Rabobank...a team with a known organized doping ring. Then, Gerolsteiner which had just about everyone on the team failing a test at some point.

    Guilt by association in my book!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thankfully he got out of that doping team Gerolsteiner and joined Johan Bruyneel's Discovery Channel, where he could finally reach his full, clean potential and podium at the TdF.

    ReplyDelete
  9. SWEET! thanks for digging this up papp. levi and the gang are a bunch of pompous assholes. thanks again for shedding light on this glaring violation.

    ReplyDelete
  10. How about some cycling journalists ask Levi about this? A virtual unknown until he joins Armstrong, I think he should be held accountable. The irony that Lisa Voight, Hein Verbruggen's very dear friend, upheld this recommendation Leipheimer be published is comical. That's most likely because he wasn't in Armstrong's fold quite yet. On the drug of choice found within: maybe it was for one of his upteen animals he mistakenly injested as he was cuddling it to bed.

    ReplyDelete
  11. It would be helpful to have more info. Ephedrine is in almost all over the counter cold and congestion medications, and the 3-month suspension seems to indicate that it was determined to be an inadvertent use of a banned substance.

    ReplyDelete
  12. As a previous poster noted (at cyclingnews.com forum) to receive any sanction at all in 1996 - let alone a 3mos ban - WAS to have the book thrown at you.

    I competed in the race from which Leipheimer was DQ'd - he was 23, I was 21 - and the man lapped the field on one of the hardest criterium circuits in North America. That he was later found positive for a stimulant was not surprising. And no, he was NOT sniffling at the start of the race, or giving any indication that he had a cold on the starting line of a mid-August race in Ohio.

    ReplyDelete
  13. And who was Levi's coach and team director for this race? ...

    ReplyDelete
  14. As I just noted, I rode this race, I remember Levi lapping the remnants of the field on what was one of the hardest crit courses in North America, and I also remember not being entirely surprised when it was revealed that he'd doped.

    But of course many fans of cycling now weren't around in 1996 to see the printed notification of his transgression, and so think of L2 as a clean-by-default (that is, by virtue of not having tested positive) rider. Others know the truth.

    Taylor Phinney is not one of them, however, and if there's one thing I hate more than a doper who doesn't get caught it's a hypocrite. And for Taylor to bash Vino' while he own pseudo-teammate has a doping history, well - make all the excuses you want about the 1) substance 2) whether or not LL might have "accidentally" taken it or 3) the length of time for the suspension. It's right to say that he would face a 2-year ban if caught doing the same thing today, but more importantly, it's right to point out the fact that the rising star of US cycling is either 1) too ignorant to know that Leipheimer was positive and is therefore a "cheat" in the same vein as Vino and should be harangued via Twitter by young TP just like said Kazakh, or 2) already engaging in deflection and other calculated PR gambits to tarnish the image of some riders, while leaving others unmolested.

    ReplyDelete
  15. TP is so far up LA ass its no wonder his initials are TP.

    ReplyDelete
  16. "TP is so far up LA ass its no wonder his initials are TP."

    LOL! Nice...

    ReplyDelete
  17. I remember pretty clearly that Leipheimer's excuse at the time was that he suffered from allergies and had been prescribed Claritin-D (i.e., Claritin with [illegal] decongestant) instead of regular Claritin. Claritin was still a rather new drug in 1996.

    Leipheimer had a great season racing domestically in '96 and I was not too surprised by the nationals result, though of course I was surprised by the positive test.

    I have since been very surprised how difficult it has been to get information about Leipheimer's infraction. If you try to google it, it's as though it never happened.

    ReplyDelete
  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  19. oe you seem to get upset that people don't take your word for it. I think all anyone is asking is for more information from a second source. I find it interesting but I really would like another source to verify your claim. Secondly doping in 1996 wasn't new and the bans were longer than 3 months for intentional doping. Being Canadian we all lived through the grandaddy of doping scandals Ben Johnson in 1988. By 1996 the 2 year ban was in place for doping infractions.

    As for Taylor Phinney how would he know Levi tested positive in 1996, it doesn't seem to be general knowledge and Taylor was what six years old at the time. The only things on the internet that can be found are references to your claim.

    Maybe he didn't have sniffles at the line because he took the OTC medicine so lack of symptoms doesn't prove anything.

    That finding that you've printed seems to be only a portion, where can one find the original in full?

    ReplyDelete
  20. The information came out at a time when almost no cycling press was being transitioned to online media. It came in the form of a pr from USA Cycling, but here is Winning magazine's online archive of it:

    http://web.archive.org/web/19970124204723/http://www.winningmag.com/story/wol1204c.html

    I emailed USA Cycling and asked for confirmation tonight. It may take awhile for them to find the records in the secret cave, but...we'll see.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Strange that his 1996 positive should be coming up now. I always assumed it was common knowledge, but I always had Levi on my radar. I raced in Belgian Kermesse circuit in 1994, the same year that he was over there. I kept track of the other Americans who were placing, and he was one of the better ones, many top tens and a few podiums. We must have been living near each other, but at the races, our paths never crossed.

    I did OK over there, but the racing was hard, and the doping was common. I took a look into the abyss of pro cycling and realized it was not for me. But I would be lying if I were to tell you I have never wondered where I would be if I chose to be flexable in my ethics. Seeing one of the expat class of 94 racing in the Protour can be painful at times.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Anon 11:22:

    We understand your pain and salute you for your strong moral and ethical convictions which kept you from choosing to medically-enhance your performances. Nevertheless, had you gone that route, we'd have understood, and would be here now ready to support you (as we are for Levi) were you contemplating denying ever having tested positive despite its being on record...

    ReplyDelete
  23. When I wrote this post, the emphasis was not on Taylor Phinney, though he was a catalyst for it. I also want to address the claims that have been made to me directly, here via my blog, and through the cyclingnews.com forum, too, that there is some question about the validity of the web archive from Winning magazine where the sanction notice is held. Despite the fact that everyone knows such information would be nearly impossible to find online because of the year in which it occurred and the relative lack of internet penetration (And mainstream use) then, I've taken steps to seek confirmation from the original parties, and also corroboration from other journals and media outlets that may have reported on it.

    That will be valuable for overcoming the objections of the wikipedia folks who keep deleting this information from L.L's entry based on bogus source claims.

    Lastly, for everyone who's tried to make relativistic arguments about the "relative" lack of severity of L.L's transgression, compared to say, blood doping, that's not even the point. The point is that to be caught cheating is to be caught cheating, regardless of what you cheated with, and in fact the concept or zero-liability was developed in response to athlete's making the disingenuous claim of accidental ingestion of a banned substance in hopes of escaping punishment.

    I started writing about Levi's positive test because Taylor Phinney, who - regardless of age should realize that if he attacks in print a rider like Vino, he should be prepared to have his words, motivations and intentions subject to intense scrutiny - ... well, he attacked in print a rider like Vino, and in doing so exposed his (TP's) own hypocrisy by not offering the same condemnations of his RS pseudo-teammates, especially L.L.

    And I'm not about to cut him a break when Lance Armstrong is an informal mentor of his. And specifically to avoid a scenario where people in the future have difficulty locating information on L.L's positive test, I wrote this, and am doing the laborious work now of getting confirmation in an official form from the stakeholders so that it can't be disappeared into the non-internet dustbin of history again.

    Have a good weekend.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Good post. Some of us have been around and remember 1996. That team also included Burk Swindlehurt and DZ. I love the jonny come lately guys posting on here thinking you made this story up. Pure comedy. Then again those guys are probbaly wearing their Livestrong shirts and wrist bands as they read this.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I raced in the 90's and remember Levi's positive very vividly. As stated, suspensions back then were much shorter - 3 to 6 months, sometimes 1 year. Neben only got 6 months for her positive, which was served in the off season in 2003. The two year suspensions didn't start until later after 2004 or so. Can't remember exactly when.

    ReplyDelete
  26. What a bunch of shit go ride your bike!

    ReplyDelete
  27. YEAH! What a bunch of shit from Levi Leipheimer to learn he was a fucking doper! Jesus, isn't there anyone clean out there? What, he's now like the 10th teammate of Armstrong's to be linked to doping. With that new Biopassport scandal there's probably an 11th in there, if not a 12th. My guess is Pellizotti as one of them, though. That guy was an alien in the 2009 Tour. Maybe Nibaldi, too. And Yaroslav Popovych (Ukrainian: Попович Ярослав)?

    ReplyDelete
  28. Levi, how could you???03 May, 2010 13:06

    FínEh!! Who to be more madder at? Doper Papp for bringing up this news that should have stayed buried or Levi for getting mixed-up in doping ever, and then never acknowledging it so some twat like Papp couldn't break his balls with it.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Let Levi lie

    ReplyDelete
  30. I think John Wordin was the director of the team at the time. Comptel-Colorado Cyclist?
    Horner and Klasna might've been on it.

    ReplyDelete
  31. @'Levi, how could you???', I think Joe is better regarded as Whistle-blower Papp, no?

    Go away troll.

    ReplyDelete
  32. This is too classic. No one can get up in Papp's shit any more for reminding the world that Levi juiced with ephedrine in '96, without first breaking the nutzsack of Floyd Landis for mentioning that he and Levi auto-transfused blood for the Tour. Holy shit...this is all too amazing. Floyd may be crazy, and he may want to burn down Armstrong's house, but holy fuck - he did it (kind of).

    The great thing is that now whenever someone says Armstrong doped, and someone else says he didnt, person 1 can be like, "Yo, but remember that Floyd Landis claims Lance taught him how to dope and had him look after his blood while he was on vacation, as if it was a fucking cat."

    awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Seems like pretty weak evidence against Levi.

    No offense, but your evidence consists of something you typed. No official documents, just a paragraph you put "'s around.

    Hmmmm...

    Mercy....

    ReplyDelete
  34. Weak evidence of what? He was sanctioned for doping at the 1996 national criterium championship. That's not in doubt. Nor is the correspondence w/ USA Cycling. And according to Floyd Landis, Levi is guilty than a lot more than intentional-or-accidental ingestion of a banned substance 14 years ago...

    Here is a link to the only direct online source for the Winning Magazine reportage of the sanction:

    http://web.archive.org/web/19970124211641/www.winningmag.com/story/wol1204c.html

    (General link here: http://web.archive.org/web/19970124202216/http://www.winningmag.com/)

    Sorry that I didn't include that in the original post. I'll update it to include that link now.

    ReplyDelete
  35. LET LEVI LIE
    UNTIL HE SAYS GOOD-BYE



    like all the rest of 'em

    ReplyDelete
  36. I was there. Remember the positive being reported a few weeks after the event. I like to tell that story to friends who are cycling fans now.

    It defiantely was a difficult course, and it kind of reminds me of when Frank McCormack solo lapped the field at Superweek the same year on the Brewer's Hill course, which is fairly similar to the 96 Nats course.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Levi is a tool. When Jason Donald nearly won the prologue at the Tour of California, Levi confronted him in the elevator of the race hotel and belittled him for trying to upstage him at his race. Jason Donald said he was shocked at Levi's behavior.

    Levi also presents this pro-animal loving attitude and even did a PETA ad. But what PETA apparently doesn't know is Levi willingly gives interviews for the Versus TV crew. Versus shows all type of hunting and bull riding programming, which PETA adamantly opposes. PETA is notorious for going after its former spokespeople who act in hypocritical ways - particularly supermodels who wear fur on the catwalk after doing ads for PETA's cause. PETA never knew that Levi was a 'friend' of Versus.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Congrats for once again getting out ahead of a major doping case and establishing yourself as a rampant cheater who took responsibility for his actions and is trying to clean-up cycling in his own way. Someone needs to be the muckraker and say the unpopular stuff, just like you did when you pointed out the irresponsibility and absurdity of the pro-death penalty statements of Steve Cozza.

    Don't stop what you are doing - just don't fall over to the side of hyperbole yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  39. ok.. I admit this is the first of the LL doping scenarios I came to after Holzer's comments.

    So - to keep the downer going, is Horner dirty too? I think it would be interesting to see how he would have done if he went to Europe earlier.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Horner DID go to Europe earlier... From
    1997–1999 he rode with Française des Jeux.

    ReplyDelete
  41. "Horner DID go to Europe earlier... From
    1997–1999 he rode with Française des Jeux"

    oh for sure man... that's seals it. horner is a doper. there's no insinuation too cheap for you is there.

    "I also remember not being entirely surprised when it was revealed that he'd doped."

    oh yea, that ephedrine was some heavy stuff. over the counter cold medication made him fly. what was your drug of choice back then? probably something that needed a needle i'm guessing, and you still saw nothing but levi's back side.

    you were never more than a mule joe, even the dope couldn't make up for that. doped to the gills on your best day you couldn't hang with talent like levi and you know it. and now you're a professional slanderer masquerading as a anti-doping crusader. comparing taking an over the counter medication 14 years ago with your injecting epo, hgh, and about anything you could put in needle, and dealing in those drugs yourself is like comparing rolling through a stop sign to armed robbery.

    my opinion is that levi probable did many if not all of the stuff you did, but you couldn't complete with that kind of talent whether you were both doped or both clean. you were jealous then and you're jealous now.

    and seeing your profit by catering to the internet form crackpot crowd makes me want to throw up. and you still have the gaul to criticize Holczer for writing a book. and you even dare do it on a website full of advertizing. you need to take another look at the definition of the world hypocrisy.

    ReplyDelete
  42. in commenting, you agree that you will not: 2) Post material abusive, slanderous, hateful, or embarrassing to any other person or entity.

    i see you exempt yourself from your own rules.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Anon 20:21 - the rules apply to comments left by "you" ... though if you want to comb the blog and find the instances where you believe I've made a comment that violated 1, 2, or 3, I'd be happy to review them and consider them for deletion.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Anon 20:17 - I'm happy to delete the ads if that means you'll stop accusing me of being a hypocrite - b/c I can assure you that I don't earn any income from this blog, and it's not a for-profit venture. My revenue from Adbrite for the last monthly ad cycle was something like...$5.01.

    I'm not trying to profit from my "story" now, unlike Holczer, who turned a blind eye to doping when he was managing Gerolsteiner b/c to do otherwise would have threatened his personal finances, and the employment of his riders and staff - but who now is critical of Leipheimer at a time when it's apparent that 1) he won't be able to return to the sport w/ a new team b/c he can't find a backer and 2) he has a new book that he needs to promote.

    Are you defending Leipheimer or Holczer, or neither or both, or are you just looking for another issue that you can use as a jumping-off-point for criticizing me? B/c if your goal is just to break my balls, why conflate your argument when you could just attack directly?

    Regardless, thanks for taking the time to comment. Your feedback is welcomed. And in fact, if you have specific feedback on what you think the best advice is to give to a rider in his mid-20's who competes at the ProConti/ProTour level who might have to leave the sport for the Big-D-O-P-I-N-G but could bring down a few people on his way out, while also sullying the image of the sport even more? Should he do it, or should he take the Basso-Route and clamp his mouth shut except when asked about the terms for his comeback contract two years from now (b/c if he stays silent and maintains the omerta, he might be able to return to the paid ranks, albeit for less money)...

    Cheers.

    PS. I'll be sure to post a copy of that Adbrite check so you can see how lucrative it is to opine on cycling via a blog.

    PSS. When the new site is launched over at www.joepapp.com before Sept., there won't even be ads, so you'll definitely need to rework that attack prior to the new launch.

    ReplyDelete

Pappillon welcomes your comments and encourages your participation. However, in commenting, you agree that you will not:1) Post material that infringes on the rights of any third party, including intellectual property, privacy or publicity rights. 2) Post material that is unlawful, obscene, defamatory, threatening, harassing, abusive, slanderous, hateful, or embarrassing to any other person or entity as determined by Pappillon in its sole discretion. 3) Impersonate another person.