Two-time Olympian Bobby Lea, who won bronze in the scratch race at the 2015 Track World Championships in February, has been handed a 16-month ban by USADA after returning a positive test at the 2015 US Track National Championships in August.
Lea tested positive for the narcotic noroxycodone, a metabolite of oxycodone, which the rider claims was the active ingredient in Percocet, a prescription medication he took the night before the nationals, where he won gold in the points race, Madison, individual pursuit, and omnium.
In an ‘Open Letter to Cycling’ on his own personal website, Lea said: “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.”
While Lea, who finished 16th in the men’s madison at the 2008 Olympics and 12th in the men’s omnium in 2012 and was considered USA’s best chance of a medal in Rio, did accept full responsibility for the mistake, he says he will appeal the sanction to the Court of Arbitration for Sport because “I want to end my career on the track and not in a lawyer’s conference room.”
Having been issued in September of this year, Lea’s ban is set to expire in December 2016. Lea hopes that by appealing he may still be able to compete in next summer’s Rio Olympics.