I’ve spent a lot time thinking about this moment, what it would look like, what it would feel like and what I would say.
And then I had to spend a lot of time making peace with the idea that this moment might not ever happen. But here I am. I can honestly say that without all of you, all of my supporters, I wouldn’t be in the position I am today.
When I set out on this journey, this quest for that elusive Olympic medal, a few years ago I thought it was just about me, just about my own quest for something I thought I needed, something I thought was missing. Now the origin of that drive is so far in the rear view mirror I can’t remember from where it came.
But thanks to all of you and your incredible support I realized I’ve already found what I was searching for and it turns out I didn’t have to go to Rio to find it. And right about the time I realized that I had found what I was looking for I realized that this Olympics has become about so much more than just me. It’s become about all of us.
So now I am on my plane to Rio and I am still chasing that medal, not just for me but for all of us, because so many of you have had a hand in this over the years. So thank you so much for all of the support and let’s see about bringing home that medal after all.
I suppose it’s only appropriate that a saga which began with a sleepless night ended with a sleepless night. I woke up at 2:45am to a voicemail informing me that the CAS panel settled on a 6-month sanction starting September 10th, 2015, the date I accepted the provisional suspension. It means that I miss the upcoming World Championships and ultimately the entire winter season. As hard as it is to sit on the sidelines while my peers are competing, I recognize that a rule was broken and a price must be paid. I maintain full responsibility for my actions and I accept the punishment as handed down by the CAS. Looking ahead, I am thankful that the big goal of qualifying for my third U.S. Olympic Team and competing for a medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games is still very much in play.
The last few months have provided ample time for introspection. I’ve had a lot of time to think about what is important in life and where cycling, and more specifically bike racing, fits into the bigger picture. What has been most helpful was the incredible support from friends, family, and acquaintances I’ve made along the way. The emails, text messages, phone calls and social media messages flowed in and really showed me what’s important. And it’s not standing on the podium of bike races. It’s the journey. It’s the adventures. It’s the lifelong relationships made along the way. I’ve been very fortunate to have made some great friends and met some great people over my years in the sport and that’s something that will I carry with me for the rest of my life. I think only through the events of the last several months could I have learned that lesson so clearly.
So now I head into the final chapters of my career armed with this fantastic new perspective on life and sport. I have a new understanding of the true value of sport, the gift of sport as well as the limits of sport. There is so much life to live outside of sport and by the same token there is so much richness added to life by sport. I feel like I’m in a unique position now to really enjoy the process and fully appreciate my last run at the Olympics.
To everyone who supported me over the last few months, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. Your support and encouragement helped me weather the storm and stay focused on the end goal. Thank you again and I look forward to seeing all of you out on the road.
Cycling has been a part of my family, and who I am, for my whole life. I can say from the bottom of my heart that I love this sport. I would never intentionally do anything to harm the sport or intentionally jeopardize my own ability to compete.
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.
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.
As I write those words, 16 months, even though I have spoken them out loud, it’s difficult to wrap my head around what they really mean. It’s even more difficult to accept that meaning. As an elite athlete, I think it’s only natural to spend a lot of time thinking about how best to wind down your career. I think its only natural to want to craft the storybook ending; the ending where you walk off the track after the biggest success of your career. Or maybe you want to return to your roots, to the place where it all began, and say goodbye one last time. I think it’s only natural to want to end it on your own terms.
Now that I’ve lost the ability to write my own ending, I’m left to answer some very hard questions. When I look back at my career, how do I feel about what I’ve done knowing that I may have raced my last race? Can I walk away from the sport today and feel content with what I’ve done? Have I accomplished what I set out to do? Does the ending change the body of work? I like to think that I know the answer to some of these but I think the reality is somewhere between knowing and hoping.
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.
Thank you for reading.
Will debut as a Felt track athlete at the 2015 PanAm Championships in Chile
Irvine, CA (Sep 1, 2015)—Felt Bicycles is pleased to announce that elite track cyclist and 2-time Olympian Bobby Lea will ride Felt track bikes through the Rio Olympic Games and 2016.
Lea is the recently crowned 2015 U.S. Track Cycling National Champion in the Omnium, Pursuit, Points and Madison and holder of an impressive 27 elite titles to date. He won a bronze medal in the Scratch Race in the 2015 UCI Track Cycling World Championships and also finished third overall in the 2015 UCI Track Cycling World Cup points standings. He is the current frontrunner for a 2016 U.S. Olympic Cycling Team nomination as a men’s endurance athlete, and with valuable UCI points on the line will be racing aboard his new Felt’s at the PanAm Championships in Santiago, Chile from September 1-6.
“I am thrilled to become a Felt athlete especially as the chase for Olympic Team selection has started to ramp up in earnest,” says Lea. “The company has such a storied history in racing and leading-edge technology and I look forward to racing with all of the aero and material design advantages their bikes bring. They are a small group of very capable and passionate people and I can already tell that being a part of their family is something very special.”
“We are excited–Bobby is a great fit with us and we are fully committed to giving him every bike design advantage as we head towards next summer’s Rio Olympic Games.” says Doug Martin, Felt’s Sports Marketing Director. “Our track program is a vital part of our total product development process and is a great showcase discipline for so much of our technology. Bobby’s input and feedback will be extremely useful and we are looking forward to lots of success together.”
Lea will race the Felt TK FRD model track frameset built with UHC Ultimate + TeXtreme® spread tow carbon fiber, InsideOut molding and Bayonet steering system.
Bobby Lea is represented by Kinetic Group Sports Management in Boulder, CO who can be reached at +1 303 517 0624 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Bobby visit www.blearacing.com and follow @B_Lea1.
About Felt Bicycles
Felt Bicycles is a leading designer, manufacturer and distributor of its own proprietary premium quality bicycles, e-bicycles, framesets, components and accessories. The company’s U.S. office is in Irvine, California, and its European office is in Edewecht, Germany. Felt Bicycles is an internationally recognized brand with bicycles and products sold in more than 30 countries worldwide. Athletes on Felt products have won numerous events including World Championships, Olympic Games, ESPN X-Games and other major national and international competitions. For more information on Felt Bicycles call (949) 452-9050 in the U.S. or (49) 4405-928015 in Europe, or visit Felt online at www.feltbicycles.com or www.feltelectric.com. You can follow Felt on Twitter and Instagram at @feltbicycles and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/feltbicycles
Contact: Doug Martin (949) 268-4475
One of Bobby’s fantastic sponsors, Cuore, provides custom kits to highlight all of his other great sponsors and supporters. Longtail Creative, responsible for the design, are selling the ktis through their website. You can support Bobby and his sponsors by clicking here and purchasing a kit. The sales will directly help Bobby get to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
ON A CHILLY AUTUMN morning in Washington, DC, with the sun still catching its last bit of sleep, the Lea family clusters around the youngest, Syd, 26, getting him ready for a 110-kilometer ride they will take together at the Audi Best Buddies Challenge, an event that pairs mainstream and intellectually challenged riders.
“Baah-BEE, last year I was COLD,” Syd protests to his brother, who is encouraging him to remove a layer of clothing on what promises to become a fine morning.
Bobby Lea, 28, smiles indulgently. “It was bad weather last year, Syd,” he says. “This will be different.” Bobby nods toward his mother, who is also fussing over Syd. “Mom hates to be cold, too,” Bobby says. “She’s dressed for five hours at 35 below.”
Read full article on Bicycle Magazine.
US trackman Bobby Lea will soon be on the boards of Paris fighting for the World pursuit gold medal, so our ‘6 Day’ expert, Ed Hood, talked to Bobby after a successful outing at the Berlin 6. With over twenty Elite titles to his name, there’s a good chance of adding a Rainbow jersey to that total in the French capital.
The USA team has a realistic contender for a medal in Bobby Lea who took bronze in the London World Cup omnium and has recently been polishing his form on the six day tracks. Originally Bobby was to be riding the omnium; a combination of the flying lap, 40 K points, the kilometre, pursuit, elimination and scratch race. But as there is now a clash between the pursuit and the omnium he has opted to go for just the pursuit race. The 2015 track Worlds will be staged in France’s new National Velodrome in South West Paris, between 18 – 22 February. Here’s what he had to say to PEZ when he was preparing to ride the omnium and not the pursuit….
Read full interview on PEZ
Bobby Lea claimed third place in the men’s omnium at a UCI Track Cycling World Cup meet on Sunday, the first American men’s omnium World Cup medal in history.
The meet took place in Guadalajara, Mexico and was the first stop of three. The 31-year-old Lea won Saturday’s individual pursuit race, part of the six-event omnium.
Lea rode to sixth in Sunday’s kilometer time trial to move into third overall with two races left. He then battled hard in the flying lap and the points race to secure bronze….
Read more at VeloNews