Jonathan Chodroff has admitted to buying and using erythropoietin (EPO) in early 2007 and has been given a two-year sanction by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). The American, who rode for Jelly Belly in 2010, purchased the doping product online through a store run by Joe Papp before turning professional in 2009. He has fully confessed and has urged other riders who may be under investigation by USADA to do the same.
“I’m taking full responsibility for purchasing a doping product over the internet about three and a half years ago,” Chodroff told Cyclingnews. “It was an internet store that was later to be revealed to be managed or designed or backed by Joe Papp.
“I couldn’t live with myself by fighting this. It’s not fair to USADA and it’s not fair to the other riders. I want to fully admit to my errors.”
Chodroff was contacted by USADA over a week ago. The governing body wrote a letter explaining that they had electronic evidence linking him with the online store. He immediately called USADA and fully confessed.
“I deeply regret my actions and that I’ve let down my family, friends and the entire cycling community. I’ll have to live with this for the rest of my life,” he said. “The least I can do is be completely honest with the governing body and take full responsibility for my actions.”
USADA’s CEO Travis Tygart spoke to Cyclingnews and confirmed the sanction. “Jonathan Chodroff was presented with evidence of his violation by USADA and he did the right thing by acknowledging his involvement and accepting the consequences that goes along with it,” said Tygart.
"I think that's really important in sports, where the cheating may seem normalised, that when athletes are confronted with the evidence, they accept the situation and acknowledge their mistakes and move forward.
“While Jonathan made mistakes and broke the rules he did the right thing when confronted and accepted responsibility and the consequences. He didn’t lie about it and didn’t force us to spend precious resources to prove the truth. He did the honourable thing in accepting the penalty.”
While Chodroff’s confession will comes as a surprise to many, Cyclingnews understand that several US domestic riders are also under investigation in the US, all of whom are linked to Papp, who earlier this year admitted to distributing drugs. Chodroff may be the first to announce his ties to Papp and EPO, however he has appealed for any other guilty parties to follow his lead and come forward.
“I hope that if there are others being pursued in this case that they do the same because it’s the right thing to do at the very least, to take full responsibility for your past actions,” said Chodroff. “If you get caught you should be fully honest.
“I have to make it clear too that I had no relationship or communication with Papp directly. I have never met him or talked to him before. It was completely on my own and acted individually. My actions have no connections with any other riders.”
While no sanction has been announced by USADA, Chodroff will likely face a ban from professional cycling. However the American was already looking to walk away from the sport. Before he does so he wants to make amends for his mistake.
“My team are aware. I stopped cycling two months ago,” he said. “The reasons were separate to this but I was moving on and I knew I wasn’t racing next year for completely other reasons. I was ready to do other things.
“I’ve talked to my closest friends and family, around 15 people, and I hope they would stand by me. I’ve been amazed by how supportive and understanding they’ve been towards me. They recognise that good people make bad mistakes in life.
“I’m not a shady character,” he added. “I’m easy to talk to and amiable I hope that people realise I’m not a bad person but that I just made a bad choice which I’m trying to make amends for.”
Cyclingnews attempted to contact Papp but he was unavailable for comment.