Bobby Lea Positive

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I did a long-ish ride yesterday and when I got back I was perusing the internet and saw this article at Velonews that said that Bobby Lea has been suspended from racing for 16 months, for a positive sample at track nationals this past summer, for noroxycodone, a metabolite of oxycodone.  Oxycodone is a opiate, really a high power pain killer.

I’ve known Bobby for a long time.  He isn’t really a super good friend, but I say hi when I see him.  He has been around forever and is a smart bike racer.  And fast.  I believe he’s been on 2 Olympic track teams, was 3rd at the Worlds and was on a World Cup podium last year.  He is the real deal, a very good bike racer.  He and his family must be devastated.

Man, I don’t know what to think.  I know he is smart enough to understand what you can and can not take in competition.  For sure he is on the out-of-competition list and is really familiar with the whole process.  I can’t imagine him taking oxycodone at track nationals, knowing full well he will probably get tested.

I say all this, but was dumbstruck when I was talking to a friend a Richmond Worlds, that is involved in cycling at the highest level.  We were talking about the rampant use of tramadol and he said that many of the riders are now taking oxycodone and even oxycontin when they are racing.  That is crazy.  I took both those drugs after shoulder surgery and there is no way I could race a bike in that state.   Plus it doesn’t seem like it would be “worth the risk”, considering the benefits, whatever they may be.

So, oxycodone is in the peloton, but that still doesn’t explain why a guy like Bobby would take it when he knew that most likely he would be tested.

I hope he makes a statement and tells his side.  I’d like to hear it.

*And here is his side.  Guess it is the only thing that makes sense.  I guess Perocet helps you sleep?  It’s an opiate.  Pretty stupid way to “end his career” as he says.  Not sure that appealing the suspension is going to help him.  Seems like he has already admitted ingesting the drug.

Or you can click on Seth Davidson’s link, to the right, to get his take on Bobby’s deal.  It is pretty scathing, but humorous, of course.

And here is a link to an article that I posted 3 years ago about Bobby and his brother Syd.  It links to another article at Bicycling.



bobbyinstgram copy

His Instagram after track nationals this past summer.

34 thoughts on “Bobby Lea Positive

  1. Rich

    Used to be a huge fan of this guy when I lived out East. Questions: why take OxyContin when you can apparently take Tramadol and be ok? Who takes OxyContin to go to sleep? I take a Benadryl if I need a little help to sleep. Prescription drug abuse is rampant in other sports. If this guy has a problem, I hope he is getting help.

  2. Brent

    I was puzzled by him stating that he used it for sleep as well. Actually I was kind of puzzled by his entire “open letter.”
    ” Blah, blah, blah, blah …but I will take it to the CAS.”

    YOU didn’t check the list and you admitted you used it for sleep (RECOVERY!). What are you going to convince the CAS of?

  3. Spinner

    This is not really a case of doping. There’s no performance benefits from taking Percocet. It is used for pain relief and as a sleeping agent. The pain relief benefits come with a DECREASE in performance (decreased arousal, exercise heart rate suppression, lethargy….none of these are conductive or supportive in riding fast).

    There’s doping and then there’s doping: before we string a rider up by there thumbs let’s consider what the rider has taken.

    Was B. Lea doping? No. He was taking a drug that he thought would help him sleep. Was he a dumb-ass for not knowing it was on the “banned” list? Probably…..

  4. Bill V.

    Derek Bouchard-Hall is really cleaning up the domestic scene! Whenever Bobby renews his license, he’ll get to chip in for the extra testing too!
    Who is next?!

  5. jeff

    “oxycontin ” that’s stupidity… that stuff is highly addicted and many go on to take even more potent drugs…
    check out –

    “Many pain drugs are opioids, like heroin. And the number of opioid prescriptions has risen from 76 million in 1991 to 207 million today.”

    america has an addiction problem…

    to take drugs to win races is stupidity… I had the opportunity to join the “gang” back in when I was 14 weightlifting. Glad I never did steriods. for many have failed kidneys at the age of 40+, for what… a few trophies and 15 minutes of fame… what’s the point.
    Keep it real.
    drugs get self destructive.

  6. jeff

    gotta really really watch addictions… while racing all sorts of drugs are release (naturally) – dopamin, seratonin, adrenalin etc…
    then to add in even more drugs.

    what I would like to know, is how many high end cyclists end up crashing if they just quit sports without slowly coming down… what happens to the mind and body…

    dopamine alone is a powerful drug, add oxy and its a chemical addiction mess… hard to come down off of all those drugs…

  7. Rider 44

    Spinner, Percocet is a very powerful opioid (narcotic) that is a combination of acetaminophen and oxycodone. It is very effective at treating short term acute pain. It is also highly addictive and overdoses can be fatal. It is a controlled substance for good reason. It is not a substance a person should take because of minor sleep difficulties. However, many people do just that despite the dangers. Many people take it to get high as well and they often combine it with alcohol or other drugs. Those combinations can also be fatal. It is a controlled substance for good reason. It is a very good bet that someone you know is either addicted or is related to someone who is addicted to opioid pain drugs. It is an epidemic in the USA and has caused many undue misery.

    As far as it being banned, drugs are often banned for reasons other than performance enhancement. They are simply dangerous on a number of levels to the riders and also to anyone that is riding near them. Oxycodone is nearly identical to heroin. Do you want someone high on heroin riding next to you in a crowded peloton? Finally, the drug can be used as a PED if it is combined with a stimulant or stimulants. That is the basic idea behind the potentially lethal pot belge.

  8. andrew

    Taking a narcotic sleep aid during a long week of track racing, where races typically run to 10 or 11 PM, is absolutely a performance enhancer.

    I, too, am at a loss for what he thinks his grounds for an appeal is, if he’s admitting he took it. He’s been part of the out of competition testing pool for over a decade, so I don’t think there are any valid excuses here.

    Have another glass of wine next time.

  9. L

    What’s so hard about racing completely clean? Way back in the 90’s when I was a Cat 1, I did Redlands, Mammoth, Tour of Willamette, Cascade Classic, Nats, Collegiate Nats, Olympic Trials and a myriad of NRC crits and other Pro-1-2 road races on – literally – nothing more than proper training, Cytomax, and Power Bars.

    I figured that if I went so hard in a race that I couldn’t recover for the next day, then so be it – would have to come back and train harder/better/different. I can’t tell you how pissed off it made me when I’d finish a stage (at Redlands, particularly) and see guys on the Chevrolet-LA-Sheriff team hooked up to a saline IV in public. Or Coors Light dudes (Oravetz, Phinney, Grewal, Engleman) sitting there with an oxygen mask on their faces. Sure, maybe that stuff wasn’t technically illegal, but it sure was unethical. If you can’t recover completely naturally, then you should race tired. Massages are one thing, but IVs, sleeping pills, pain killers and the like should be off limits.

    If you train or race so hard that you can’t sleep, then that’s a signal to your body that you’re either doing something wrong, or that your body is not cut out for what you’re demanding of it. So, while there may be no “technical” performance enhancement from taking Oxycontin, if you are taking it to help you sleep (which aids in recovery, obviously) then you SHOULDN’T BE TAKING IT – sorry.

    Oh, and for what it’s worth, being able to beat some of those guys feels absolutely GREAT when you know you’re clean and they’re not.

  10. channel_zero

    but that still doesn’t explain why a guy like Bobby would take it when he knew that most likely he would be tested.

    How many times do we have to go through this routine? Just because a test comes back positive doesn’t mean a sports federation will open a sanction. Between the CIRC report clearly stating that’s exactly what happened with Armstrong and Hajo Seppelt’s articles, this is no longer a conspiracy theory.

    I bet Marty Nothstein has a couple of stories to tell about never testing positive.

    The only mystery is why Mr. Lea is the recipient of the sanction and not some other positive test by another athlete.

  11. El Jabón

    Just because he was taking oxycodone, why do we assume that was for athletic enhancement?
    In high school I used to smoke the liquid form with a little hash… it was a nice high.
    Just saying…

  12. RGTR

    To hell with the latest pharma gerbil…I want to know your thoughts on the bombshell about the WorldTour and ASO taking all of their toys and going home. Holey sheet.

  13. Krakatoa East of Java

    I can’t speak to how Percocet makes other feel. I can only speak from my own experience. I only took it to manage pain from my broken hip surgery (for a week or two). It was an interesting animal. I immediately gain a powerful level of cautionary respect for this drug. I’d take it, and while the horrible pain was still completely with me, it just “didn’t matter” anymore. It was doable. Bearable. But this medication made me completely foggy-minded, and the LAST thing it did was help me to sleep. If anything, the drug kept me awake… still acutely aware of my pain, and just not giving a damn that it was there.

    I was SO happy to leave that drug behind and switch to Advil. Perhaps some people end up having a love affair with Percocet. Perhaps it gives them a euphoric high or sorts. Perhaps it puts them to sleep. My own experience makes both of those unfathomable.

  14. chuck martel

    ” Do you want someone high on heroin riding next to you in a crowded peloton?”

    It’s impossible to put into words how trivial, in the great scheme of things, drugs are in the world of cycling and sports in general and how unimportant the detection of them is in this area. On the other hand, there’s practically no public concern over drunk, doped, psychotic law enforcement officers running around with loaded guns in fast cars. A high cyclist might unjustly win a race or maybe foul one up. A doped up cop kills people. The time to worry about drugs in cycling is after cops are subjected to random, 24/7 drug testing with a loss of license and employment for failure.

  15. Mike Rodose

    My opinion only

    Bobby Lea’s positive for percocet is worth a 6-month suspension. Like marijuana or some other banned substances that aren’t rocket-fuel PEDs.

    Anabolics, hgh, testosterone…..2 years. And a life suspension for EPO and blood enhancement drugs.

    Does it make sense to use a tiered ban in accordance with a substance’s PED-impact?

  16. AB

    His not knowing oxycodone is banned in-competition is BS — makes me doubt his intentions or his IQ. Some pros don’t even take vitamins, just in case. He had to know.

  17. Stefan

    Not ready to condemn Bobby Lea. He had a prescription for the drug and approval of it for out of competition use. Perhaps it’s an addiction problem? Maybe treatment is an appropriate response (and suspension while he gets things back under control).

  18. L

    Really? How so? I drew the line at helping my body recover by doing things that didn’t require medical supervision or pharmacology. That’s pretty simple. And, you know what? I got as far as I did, without lying, cheating, stealing, or ruining anyone else’s chances to succeed.

    Everyone knows what cheating is. The only question is whether you have the character to follow through with it.

  19. Krakatoa East of Java

    If you got popped for this drug during an event, you’re either too injured to be racing, or you’re an addict OF this drug.

  20. The Singularity Group, a family company

    oxycodone is natural for the most part. That other crap, synthetic. Oxycodone is metabolized and out of your body in a quick way, the other stuff nope.

    I take it for a tooth (oxycodone). Carry it with me until I can get it pulled and an implant placed.

    57 year old Cat 1 road (retired of course. DOD engineer now). The young fellow here did not deserve a suspension, period.

  21. The Singularity Group, a family company

    oxycodone is indeed addictive. I don’t knw the young fellow here but his type generally aren’t of an addictive nature. I’d say he used it, and probably continues to use it as a tool. To relieve pain, naturally, or as a sleep aid, naturally. Not performance enhancing, simple like that.

    I use it, have used it, have used similar since 1982 or so when this pin head shut down a rocking good Nats TT effort 200m early and blew a good time. Only 15th or so with a mid 50’s I think. Bent a San Rensho Katana at the start. Far north of 2300 watts by estimate at the start did that. oxycodone was not in my system pre race, it was post effort as I needed to get ready for the Road Race in a day or so.

    Very simple. A person can be hard, sometimes not hard enough, and you need a little help to take the edge off. That, I believe, is the case here. Looking at it from a historical personal perspective, and from that of a dod Mechanical Engineer today.

  22. The Singularity Group, a family company


    Followed much of your same trajectory, really. Add an early 80’s crash into LeMond as a teen around the Madison WI Capitol Building where I thought I killed the future Tour Winner….. who was lapping a field of the best of what the Midwest had to offer at the time like he was a little kid on an around the block tricycle ride. Did that three times with no perceivable effort. He zigged while on his third go around, I and others zagged, shoulder to shoulder, me @ 150, he @ a teen 130. No incident, no death.

    oxycodone is easy. I used it then (post 1982 TT Nats …. somewhere in the top 15-20 after shutting down 200m early and ramping it back up,,,,,,,to beat down the resultant pain so I could sleep for the Milwaukee Road Course the next days)

    Pretty simple really. The youngun here may have been in a similar boat. DBH is barking up the wrong tree. EPO and others, yep…. not oxycodone, with a reasonable excuse. He needs a note from his mother or doc.

  23. The Singularity Group, a family company

    Krakatoa East of Java = same here. Not a hip, thank fucking God…. but a tooth that is jacking my pain level to 12 on and off. With the holiday’s and until it gets sorted, I carry a bottle in my brief case, jacket pocket and glove compartment.

    Your assessment of how it works, spot on. Someone could come after me with a running, chained up chainsaw to take care of that tooth and I’d smile. My Family may be at wits end, but they’re used to it with me.

    I can’t wait to dump it’s use…. likely after the first of the year when my first heads back to USC. Don’t want to miss any of her visit with a yanked tooth, root canal (stupid as they are) or any other distraction.

    Not addicted now, wasn’t addicted back in ’82 at TT/Road Nats in Milwaukee when I may have taken something similar to buffer the pain of a mid 50’s (?) effort. It’s not rocket science folks, that’s my 19 year old’s wheelhouse. Drop this stupid suspension and everybody get back to work, nothing to see here.

  24. The Singularity Group, a family company

    @ Jeff – boring

    Amerika does indeed have an addition problem. To big pharma psych drugs, to weight loss pills, to blood pressure pills etc.

    Blood pressure and this simple narcotic are tools. Some of the docs writing Rx’s are tools. I’d be willing to stick my analytical neck out here and say the young fellow here has a good doc, a real need for the med, and USAC is sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong…. in the middle of the HIPA protected doctor/patient privileged zone.

    I hope the young fellow here sues the living fuck out of the USAC, and DBH to boot. Put a lien on their property for they messing with his ability to make a living.

    As an Engineer, I’ve done it. Out of the box thinking is what builds efficient carpet bombing systems. It also keeps USAC in its hole. First step, a restraining order on those fools so they can’t bother him anymore. Then, call the Singularity Group, a family company. I’m retired, got a few hours to spare….. from mental masturbation.



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