US adds Lea to Rio Olympics team after arbitration case
Olympic veteran Bobby Lea was been added to the U.S. team for the Rio Games on Friday after the track cyclist's successful appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport resulted in a reduced doping suspension.
Lea will compete in the omnium during the Summer Olympics in August.
The medal hopeful was suspended 16 months after a test during last year's track national championships revealed a metabolite of oxycodone in his sample. Lea acknowledged taking the prescription painkiller Percocet without realizing it contained a substance banned in competition.
Lea appealed his suspension to sport's highest court and it was reduced to six months.
That was only the first step in reaching Rio, though. USA Cycling's selection criteria states riders must be in good standing with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and U.S. Olympic Committee when the team is selected, and Lea was still serving his suspension when the long team was announced in January.
Lea appealed the language used in the selection criteria and an arbitration panel ruled in his favor this week, stating that riders need only to be in good standing by the final team selection.
USA Cycling's selection committee, which had chosen Jake Duehring to the long team in Lea's absence, met Friday and adhered to the panel's ruling by adding Lea to the seven-member track cycling team.
''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,'' Lea wrote after his suspension was handed down.
''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.''
Even with Lea, the U.S. will have a small contingent at the Olympic velodrome in Rio.
Matt Baranoski will compete in the men's keirin, while the world record-holding women's pursuit team of Sarah Hammer, Kelly Catlin, Chloe Dygert, Jennifer Valente and Ruth Winder has gold-medal aspirations.
Hammer will also compete in the women's omnium, where she is a former world champion.