Bobby Lea has received a 16-month suspension for a positive anti-doping control from the American national track championships on August 8 in Carson, California. Lea was considered America's best chance for a track medal at the Rio Olympic Games but his suspension will see the 32-year-old three-time Olympian banned from competition until December 2016.
"We were very saddened and disappointed to learn that Bobby Lea tested positive for the narcotic noroxycodone, a metabolite of oxycodone, at the 2015 Track National Championships in August," read Derek Bouchard-Hall's statement.
"It is not acceptable for an elite athlete to compete with unauthorized prohibited substances in his or her system, and we support USADA's findings and the sanctions imposed. This case demonstrates the effectiveness of USADA's testing and adjudication process, and that it is absolutely essential for athletes to be vigilant in competing according to anti-doping regulations."
Lea competed in the points race in both Athens and Beijing and the omnium at London 2012, finishing 12th overall. He claimed bronze in the scratch race at the 2015 World Championships and has also won several World Cups medals across his career.
Following the announcement by USADA, Lea posted "an open letter to cycling" on his personal website explaining his decision to take medication the night before competition at the nationals and explaining he will appeal the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
"On the night of August 7th, in a state of post-race exhaustion and having run out of my normal sleep aid, I made the poor choice to take my prescription Percocet hoping it would help me rest. This medication had been prescribed by a doctor to help me manage pain and sleep while traveling for competition, especially in the event of a crash. Because it was late at night, and I was trying to sleep, I failed to check my prescribed medication against the prohibited list, an action I have correctly executed hundreds of times over the years. Had I done that I would have seen that Percocet is not banned when used out of competition, but is banned in-competition. Had I done that simple check, the same simple check I’ve done in pharmacies all over the world, I would have reached for another beer or two and I would not find myself here today," Lea wrote.
"Nearly 24 hours later, after winning the Points Race at the USA Cycling Elite Track National Championships, I was notified that I had been selected for drug testing and reported to USADA to provide a sample. The sample I provided showed trace amounts of noroxycodone, the metabolite of oxycodone, which is the active ingredient in Percocet. As a result of that finding I was given a 16-month suspension from September 10th, 2015.
"At the end of the day, I made a mistake and that was wrong. I know that as an athlete, I am accountable for everything that I ingest, regardless of the source. I live with my mistake and I accept full responsibility for it. To my family, friends, coach, fans, sponsors, and the sport that I love: I am deeply sorry. I remain committed to the strict rules and ethics that govern track cycling and Olympic Sport and I support any and all anti-doping efforts that help better it. However, because I want to end my career on the track and not in a lawyer’s conference room, I will appeal this sanction to the Court of Arbitration for Sport."
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