Confession: I was a doper

I’m half way through The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton, and with the evidence being published by USADA around their case against Lance Armstrong, I have realized that it’s time I came clean:

I have used EPO, the same drug the top cyclists used to surpass what the normal human body can achieve.

My history with EPO

I was tired.  I needed more energy.  Fatigue greeted me every morning and every evening.

While it was not my idea, when my doctor first suggested it, I did not protest or fight it, but I let him inject me on several occasions.  At one point, my doctor encouraged me to learn to inject myself.  He gave me a needle and a nerf football to practice subcutaneous injection.  After watching me bury a needle all the way in to the football (far too deep), he decided that trained hands should inject me.

Like the pro cyclists who have testified to the use of EPO at all levels of cycling, we had to monitor the levels in my blood to make sure my levels weren’t too high.   That meant more needles, extracting blood to make sure my hemoglobin levels weren’t too high.  Once I had two injections within too short of a time period, and my hemoglobin levels were far above normal, raising a good deal of alarm with my doctors.  I remember the small vials, I remember the complicated payments for the drug.

I did not tell my friends about this.  I did not tell my family about it.  It was not something I wanted to share.   I did not want to admit who I was cheating.


Why would I do this?  What could possibly drive me to let a doctor put EPO into my blood stream?

It’s simple: Both of my kidneys had failed.  Your kidneys are responsible for producing the hormones (the natural equivalent of EPO) that tell the body to generate red blood cells.  As my kidneys failed and performed only at 5% of their original capacity, I wasn’t producing enough red blood cells, and so I needed EPO.

I’m not alone.  Almost every kidney patient out there has seen the small bottles that were our lifeline, that kept us healthy, along with all the other drugs we used to keep ourselves alive.  Our health depended on it.  My cousin Diane, who gave me a kidney, put an end to my need for EPO to survive.   I’m sorry to out all my fellow end-stage kidney disease patients and our past use of banned, illicit substances.   Who were we cheating?  We were cheating death.

One thought on “Confession: I was a doper

  1. Mr. Rollins,
    Your willingness to open wide the door holding back this skeleton, has given me the courage to confess my short lived experience with injecting chemicals into my body.

    Though I had been told all my life not to injest, or even worse, inject drugs into my body, there was something back in 2007 that caused me to take an oppositional stand against what society “in general” is so afraid of. Someone who knew much more about the path I had destined myself to take, repeatedly kept asking is this what I wanted to do. That question was almost always preceded by warnings of all the bad things that could arise from the decision I was making.

    This person, whom I will refer to as “my handler”, made this particular drug (not EPO) available to me; and in doing so, changed how I viewed life. My handler explained that the decision to move forward could not be taken lightly, and that like any illict drug, had the potential of affecting my interaction with others. i was also told that any misfortune on my part (once i started injecting), could bring about negative consequences affecting the joy of countless others I knew nothing about.

    My handler has discreetly gone unnoticed for years, bringing an “enlightenment”, and joy, that can only be experienced, in this lifetime, by the few who are miraculously given such an opportunity. In ways that I will never be able to fathom, my handler has brought many people to experience this journey, without a word ever being spoken to those who such knowledge was forbidden.

    Much secrecy exists regarding those “chosen” to inject their body with the drug I’m writing about. A network of people labor in maintaining the “big secret”. No one can know where those chosen live, what they do, or what they like to eat. However, if the stars align just right, one may possible be allowed to shed their shroud of secrecy.

    Those who are chosen are typically offered 5 days worth of injections of this miracle drug. Some decline the opportunity once it is given; however,most do not. Though my handler did all they could do ensure my decision was informed, there was no way I could pass up my opportunity. Those who do as I did, will almost without exception, tell you they would do it again. Many more so, will admit yearning for a second opportunity.

    I find it most amazing how this drug and it’s pull on those of us remain. Most all who have experienced it flowing, “all the way down to their bones”, yearn for another opportunity.

    Strangely, the drug provides no relief to the chosen few. For many, it only brings about stress and discomfort we were not created to endure. Sensations of relief or satisfaction do not come while one is under the influence of this drug. In fact, feelings of this type are rarely experienced until the drug has done what it was meant to do. It’s true purpose is to allow “more to be taken” than one “could ever naturally give.” The great thing is those who are taken from, in this sense, are never deprived of that which was taken.

    So, my friend, I too, am a doper. My drug was not EPO. It was filgristim. I shot up with it twice a day for five days, allowing my bones to worker harder than they were meant to. To me, my bones felt strong; yet weirdly, I could feel them like one feels shoes on their feet. The work being done by my bones were causing Peripheral Blood Stem Cells (PBSC’s) to be kicked out into my bloodstream; only to be removed at the end of my five days by a process similar to giving blood.

    Those PBSC’s were to be given to a man whom I’ve never had the opportunity to meat. Perhaps it isn’t such a bad thing. The bible speaks of there being “life in the blood”. Who and what we is contained within it. When it no longer flows within our veins, we cease to be. One tastes, desires, drives, and attitudes can be influenced by the blood. I just hope beforehand, this individual wasn’t a clean-eating, non-drinking, law-breaking, soft-spoken, liberal, who refused to allow himself to relax more than what was necessary. If he was(any of those things) we should probably continue to exist without making each other’s acquaintance; for he undoubtedly no longer fits in his old environment.

    When I began my injections, this individual, was very sick. As a last resort to save his life, a doctor decided the best chances of him surviving his battle with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, would be to effectively kill his bone marrow, the very matter that makes the blood that sustains us. In addition to that, he was to go about doing that with a deadly dose of injections of his own, while relying on a person (me), whom he had never met, to give him some of my marrow to replace his. As if that wasn’t enough, this man had no authority over me. If he even wished to do so, he was powerless to make any suggestion as to how i should live, or protect my life, until which time I gave him some of it.

    In closing, I recognize the fact that you are a much more dedicated doper than I. Me and my unknown friend did our drugs in unison, where u went at it alone. I take my hat off to you!

    Mr. Rollins, I am indebted to “my handler” for bringing about the circumstances which allowed you and I to meet. But, much more importantly, There will be countless generations that could not exist if she didn’t do what she does, facilitating the the duplication and/or restoration of life, through bone marrow/PBSC donation.

    Your Friend,

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