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Leogrande gets two years

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Kayle Leogrande (Rock Racing)

Kayle Leogrande (Rock Racing) (Image credit: Jon Devich)
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Leogrande at last year's Tour of Virginia

Leogrande at last year's Tour of Virginia (Image credit: Jason O. Watson)

By Cyclingnews staff

The United States Anti-Doping Authority (USADA) has announced the suspension of Kayle Leogrande for two years after it was established he used EPO during last year's Superweek series.

The three-member arbitration panel decided that Leogrande's admission of drug use during The Point Premium Root Beer International Cycling Classic on July 26 last year, in addition to a 'borderline' A-sample taken in that period, constituted grounds to suspend the Rock Racing rider for two years, commencing December 1, 2008.

The panel heard that Leogrande admitted to using Vicadin, Ventalin and EPO to Rock Racing soigneur Suzanne Sonye following an in-competition test by USADA. Sonye recalled the rider telling her that he had not slept well the night of the test, and when asked why this was the case, he informed her that he had used the prohibited blood-boosting substance.

Evidence also emerged that Leogrande 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 f*** up the test." This came after the 31-year-old had asked Sonye where testosterone patches could be bought, as the testosterone gel he had earlier tried had not been as effective as he had hoped.

The panel learned that then-Rock Racing directeur sportif Frankie Andreu was informed of Leogrande's admission by Sonye, and he praised her for doing so. He then spoke with other team management and told them of the situation, outlining the need to terminate the rider's contract based on his admissions. Instead, he was suspended for two weeks after which time he could continue racing.

The court stated, "No one within the Rock Racing management questioned whether Respondent [Leogrande] had used EPO. The only debate was what to do about it. Management determined that it would not terminate Respondent, but instead wait until Respondent received his doping control results from Super Week before making that decision."

Andreu parted ways with the team earlier this year and told Cyclingnews at the time that, "Before Christmas they made some business strategy decisions with me and other members, and that made it obvious to me where they were heading. Since then I was left out of the majority decisions."

It's damning evidence for the team, with team owner Michael Ball coming under fire on occasion for signing riders and staff with dubious records in relation to doping infractions. The latest chapter in this came with the announcement that former T-Mobile soigneur and advisor Rudy Pevenage would have an involvement with the squad next year.

USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart was pleased with the outcome of the hearing, and stated afterwards, "All those who value clean sport should be encouraged by this decision and by those who voluntarily come forward with reliable evidence, placing their trust in USADA, to aggressively pursue those who will cheat their fellow competitors by using prohibited drugs."