Bobby “Perky” Lea tested positive for metabolites of oxycodone shortly after winning the national points race championship and his sanction was announced today by USADA. The best part of the sanction press release is the generic language that specifically talks about how USADA works with athletes to keep them from doing exactly what Lea claims to have done, i.e. used a drug without checking to see if it’s prohibited.
Below are his two exculpatory messages, with annotations in italics by Cycling in the South Bay to assist readers unfamiliar with the self-serving language used by drug cheats. The first message is an email that “Perky” sent out a few hours before the anti-doping violation and suspension were announced by USADA. The second is a contritely defiant letter posted on his web site.
Dear Friends and Family,
I am writing to you tonight because I have some very important and time sensitive news I have to share with you. And I need to share this with you tonight because it will be public in the next 48 hours and I want you to get this from me directly.
And I also need to apologize for hiding this from you for so long.
Otherwise known as lying.
Over the last few months I’ve had more than a few conversations with many of you and I have had to either dodge questions or just outright lie about by (sic) coming plans.
I have been lying for a long time because I’m a liar who lies.
For that I’m sorry.
But, as you’ll find out if you keep reading, I’m really only sorry because I got caught, I plan to appeal, and if you are a careful reader you’ll see that I never admit to being a cheater. More of a mistake-prone fellow, and I’m sorry for that.
At first it killed me, and then either I started to believe my own story or it just came to (sic) easily, which was also scary.
I am so pathological that I believe my own lies. I’m a habitual liar; so much so that my lies come to me “easily.” This isn’t morally reprehensible or indicative of profound pathology. It is just “scary.”
And not (sic) it’s been eating me up again.
We call this a Freudian slip, Bobby. Soooo revealing considering the number of times you must have proofread this missive.
So on one hand it’s nice to finally be able to put this out there so I can be open and honest but on the other hand I hate to have to say it at all.
It’s nice to be able to come clean 48 hours before USADA issues a press release that will be distributed worldwide. Honesty is nice for a change. Kind of like a different pair of shoes. You wear the liar shoes for a few years, they get a bit scuffed, and then you put on the truthy shoes, at least until the CAS hearing.
So without further ado, here it is.
Pull on the fuggin’ hip waders.
Thanks for reading.
What follows is from “Perky” Lea’s web site. Enjoy. The annotations are mine.
Cycling has been a part of my family, and who I am, for my whole life.
So this is the most amazing and profound betrayal that can be imagined as I shaft everyone at once.
I can say from the bottom of my heart that I love this sport.
So much that I cheat at it.
I would never intentionally do anything to harm the sport or intentionally jeopardize my own ability to compete.
Despite being a habitual liar, dodging, dissembling, and outright lying, I would never lie.
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.
Everyone takes Percocet when they are tired, especially when they are out of their normal sleep aid. You’re probably wondering what my normal sleep aid is. It’s green tea, that’s what. Percocet though is a narcotic, and it is as addicting as heroin. Narcotics are the most widely abused prescription drug in America and because they have gotten harder to obtain they have driven addicts to heroin. In other words, it is something that everyone takes after a race when they are tired. Some of you may have read this article that says opiates are a sleep inhibitor that disrupt sleep architecture but that is bulldonkeys. Shit will knock you OUT. I would never have taken the Percocet in order to numb the pain so that I could win the points race. That would be crazy, for sure. Instead, I took a sleep inhibitor so I could sleep before the big race.
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.
It is a known fact that doctors give you prescriptions for Percocet, a DEA Class II drug, not for actual pain, but “just in case” you crash and to help you sleep even though it’s a sleep inhibitor. Just walk into your doctor’s office, explain that you have sleeping problems and are often tired as a bike racer, plus that you might crash, and they will prescribe Percocet for you. Sure, it’s addicting and disrupts sleep architecture, but who’s an architect? I ain’t building shit, I’m racing bikes. And even if you don’t crash, it’s okay to take it when you are tired. I would be happy to show you the prescription and give you the name of the doctor but I forgot it and the dog ate it plus I think I got it in Bangkok. Narcotics, i.e. morphine, methadone, and oxycodone have never been used in cycling to mask pain from injury or discomfort from illness and I have no idea what “pot Belge” is. Narcotics would never raise an athlete’s pain threshold so they can continue competing through the pain. Because that would be cheating and cheating would be a betrayal of everything, especially all the things that I have betrayed.
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.
I had the prescription from my doctor and never checked it against the prohibited list. Even though I carried it around for sleeping and pre-crash pain and post-race exhaustion, it never occurred to me to check whether a powerful narcotic that comes with a long list of side effects and warnings might possibly be prohibited. After all, lots of other narcotics are not prohibited like heroin, opium, and stuff. I think. Are they? Anyway, I was tired and it was late at night. When it’s late I just take stuff. If you were a pro you would understand. Plus, I have checked my drugs hundreds of times over the years. Now this doesn’t mean I’ve taken hundreds of prescription drugs, it means I have checked prescription drugs hundreds of times. I’ve actually only taken some aspirin once. And Alleve. But I’ve checked those two drugs hundreds of times because rules can change. So now you’re wondering what kind of drugs was I checking for those hundreds of times. I know. Sounds weird, but it was just aspirin and Alleve. And once I smoked a joint. But I didn’t inhale.
Had I done that I would have seen that Percocet is not banned when used out of competition, but is banned in-competition.
And if Grandma had balls she’d be Grandpa.
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.
You see, I’ve been in pharmacies all over the world. Haven’t you? When you travel you want to see the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and French pharmacies. When you’re in Mexico you want to see pyramids in the Yucatan and pharmacies. And in China you’d be insane to see the Great Wall and miss out on the pharmacies. Anyway, it’s a simple check and I’ve done it in a zillion pharmacies, checking everything I ever buy there, and then I’ve checked my prescriptions hundreds of times. But I never checked whether a prescription narcotic might be banned. My bad! Sometimes I am a silly fellow!!! (Sad face!)
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.
I didn’t cheat. I didn’t lie. I didn’t do anything wrong. I simply was suspended as the result of a finding, kind of like having to wear a cast as a result of falling off a ladder and breaking your arm. Shit happens, right? Nowhere did the suspension call me a doper or a cheater or a douchebag, by the way. So I got that going for me.
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.
Does it, like, mean sixteen calendar months? Or does it mean “hire an attorney and appeal because I wuz framed!”
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.
And how to wind it “up,” heh heh.
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.
Story crafting, making stuff up, fairy tales, it’s only natural to want to make stuff up when you lie all the time. And with the right “stuff” you don’t even have to make it up. You can make it real. You picking up what I’m laying down?
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.
Which is totally different from crafting a storybook ending, and more like returning to the womb. And ending it on your own terms means, well, how do I say this? Here’s how: “CAS.”
Now that I’ve lost the ability to write my own ending, I’m left to answer some very hard questions.
“Why did I cheat?” however, is not one of them. Neither is, “Why did I lie?” And of course I’ve never asked, “How can I possibly write any of this crap with a straight face?”
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?
How do I feel about having lied and covered up and dodged questions and traveled the world’s pharmacies and taken prescription narcotics as sleeping medication? How? I’ll tell you how: CAS.
Can I walk away from the sport today and feel content with what I’ve done?
Especially when I haven’t done anything wrong? When I’m basically being victimized because unlike what I did at all the world’s pharmacies I accidentally on purpose took some narcotics? Can I be content with using oxycodone as a sleep aid?
Have I accomplished what I set out to do?
Can I get the suspension lifted? The market for forcibly retired drug cheat US trackies is not too hot these days.
Does the ending change the body of work?
Although most people associate “body of work” with literature, science, music, or other intellectual endeavors, isn’t bicycle racing like that? Aren’t races a “body of work” like Einstein, Beethoven, etc?
I like to think that I know the answer to some of these but I think the reality is somewhere between knowing and hoping.
In other words, I know I’ve been busted but I sure as fuck hope I can beat this rap in CAS.
At the end of the day, I made a mistake and that was wrong.
I didn’t cheat. I made a mistake, like when you put on mismatched socks or when you drop an egg on the kitchen floor. Now you’re probably wondering what is wrong about making a mistake, and I’d agree with you. Mistakes aren’t right or wrong, unlike cheating and lying and deceiving. Those things are wrong but I didn’t do those things except for where in that earlier message I admitted to all that outright lying. I just took some narcotics to go to sleep instead of doing what I do at all the other pharmacies I visit and what I did the hundreds of other times I had prescription drugs.
I know that as an athlete, I am accountable for everything that I ingest, regardless of the source.
This doesn’t mean I cheated or that I accept my sanction or that I will ‘fess up, sit the fuck down, and take my beating like a man. Rather, I mistaked. I accidented. And if I’d been at, say, the pharmacy in TJ that I like to hit when I’m in Cali, I would have checked. That’s what I’m guilty of: Not checking.
I live with my mistake and I accept full responsibility for it.
However, not “full responsibility” as in “I accept the sanctions.” That’s different. What I accept is the responsibility of not checking. And I think we’ve all not checked stuff before. So in a way we’re all the same. Plus, it’s hard to check stuff when you’re tired.
To my family, friends, coach, fans, sponsors, and the sport that I love: I am deeply sorry.
You may be wondering “Sorry for what?” since I haven’t spelled it out and to that I can only say I’m sorry for not doing what I do when I’m at the pharmacy in Beijing: checking. But since I didn’t cheat I’m not sorry for cheating.
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.
For other people.
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.
What in the fuck do I have to lose?
Thank you for reading.
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