Earlier this month we told you about how antidoping authorities penalized Oakland journalist and amateur cyclist Andrew Tilin after he released The Doper Next Door: My Strange and Scandalous Year on Performance-Enhancing Drugs. Authorities tossed Tilin's racing results after the author proudly acknowledged he had competed -- and won -- while on dope.
But we didn't get a chance to share the story of the real victim of this sordid affair: Bill Laddish, a Danville cyclist who had placed eighth in duffer veterans' category in the 2008 Mount Tamalpais Hillclimb, just behind Tilin. That seventh place win was Tilin's greatest ever, and now it goes to Laddish.
Since then, Laddish, who we recently spoke to, has blossomed into a much better racer than Tilin ever was. He has won races, including the Merced Criterium, qualifying for the elite Masters 1, 2, 3 racing category -- a status Tilin never achieved.
Laddish trains 250 miles each week -- without dope. He told us he was was
astonished that anyone would take drugs to become barely competitive as a
"People are doping in Cat Four, 35-plus racing?" he said in
reference to the lowly category both he and Tilin had competed
in. "I'm shocked. I'm amazed."
In fact, Tilin's cheating was not really evidence of widespread doping among part-time athletes. In fact, it seems to be just the opposite.
When he set out on his book project, Tilin had hoped to find a bunch of doping duffers and write about them. But he was short on material, so he kept his book project alive by doping himself -- and writing about it.
Laddish doesn't discount the idea that middling bike racers might be doping, however. Masters racing -- the term for competition among adults 35 and older -- is extraordinarily competitive in the Bay Area, as men with families and jobs awake before dawn to log hundreds of miles to prepare for weekend races.
"I race primarily master 1, 2, 3s," said Laddish, in reference to the more elite middle-aged category he qualified after being "beat" by Tilin in 2008. "I've met guys who are so wound up at races, and so angry, and so fit, that, if I was going to turn somebody in, I'd point my finger directly at them."
He's one of the few cyclists to have his racing results restated, thanks to another competitor's doping suspension. So we had to know how that made him feel, three years later.
"I guess that puts me in seventh place," Laddish says. "That's a pretty competitive place, no matter what field you're in."
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