He Was the Face of a Bike-a-thon to Fight Cancer. He Was Also a Fake.

“He was ingratiating himself with riders without our request, and I was concerned by that,” she said. “At the same time, I was, and am in, no position to say he was lying.”

And yet Pelotonia did remove Mr. Looker’s promotional video from its website, cut him out of publicity materials and removed him from reports. With only rumors to go on at the time, it did not bar him from riding in the event or from soliciting money, and said nothing publicly.

Ms. Merlino and Ms. Decker were not happy. Shouldn’t the community know that the Pelotonia legend was possibly a fake?

Some of Mr. Looker’s closest friends were also becoming uneasy.

In May 2016, Dr. LeMay was one of four people helping Mr. Looker with his yard sale. Anything she sold was supposed to be deposited into her Pelotonia fund-raising account. By October, the money still wasn’t there, she said.

Then, in August 2018, at least seven years into Mr. Looker’s supposed illness, two other Looker’s Hookers, Paul Harrison and Dave MacPhail, grew doubtful. Mr. MacPhail, 57, had known Mr. Looker since the mid ’90s. Back then, he recalled, Mr. Looker said he had colon cancer.

The three decided to confront Mr. Looker. But first they sat down with Mr. Addison.

Mr. Addison didn’t believe it. He and Mr. Looker had been together 17 years; how could his partner have made up a disease? “You’d never think someone would lie about having cancer,” Mr. Addison said.

About a week later, Dr. LeMay and Mr. MacPhail met with Pelotonia’s chief executive, Doug Ulman, who once ran Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong foundation, and two other employees.