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Ciolli, like anywhere from 25 to 80 percent of America’s entire aging population, experiences hormone imbalances that some doctors seek to treat with supplements.Her physicians tell her that to feel normal, she needs supplemental estrogen, progesterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and testosterone.“For some people, it’s very sad to watch those abilities go away.” Ciolli—who admits to her use of banned substances and also insists that she did not take them to boost performance—represents a potential third group of older competitive athletes.For most of their adult lives, these athletes have lived in largely healthy bodies that delivered on most requests to go harder and faster.
She loved the sport’s speed, and how it taught her to focus and persevere through pain. She kept riding, and in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2008, she won a USA Cycling Masters National Road title in the women’s 40-44 criterium race.
USADA says that it doesn’t keep score, but according to the list of sanctioned athletes on the agency’s website, these calculating cheaters are outliers: 13 percent of athletes sanctioned by USADA over the last 12 months were over age 40, and even some of those “guilty" dopers received no or reduced punishments for their infractions.
For more than a few aging cheats, however, a steroid like testosterone represents but a beginning.
On a steamy Saturday morning in June 2016, 48-year-old road racer Kim Ciolli lined up for the Women’s Master 40 event at the St. Ciolli’s race was one in a series of prestigious criterium races held annually over a three-day weekend in the northern Oklahoma city.
As she looked over the competition, Ciolli thought one thing.